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Reviews

21 Oct 2019
The eighth annual Desert Daze returned to Lake Perris this year, marking the second year in a row that Phil Pirrone’s music festival has set up camp at this non-desert spot, located an hour or so away from the Coachella Valley. While last year’s festival faced a lot of logistical challenges, organizers put those largely behind them this year—I easily traveled through the main gate to the general admission parking lot. I was motivated to make the drive from the real desert to see the reunion of Stereolab on Friday; the last time I saw the band was in Pomona at the Glass House, just prior to their breakup. Performing on the Moon Stage (main stage), lead singer of Lætitia Sadier was perfect—and yes, heavy synth music does sound better in French. Fans screamed Lætitia’s name; she responded with, “Merci … let’s ping pong”—of course, introducing the song “Ping Pong.”…
12 Aug 2019
The 15th and apparently final Campout came early to Pappy and Harriet’s, July 31 through Aug. 3. Yeah, the July 31 gig was technically a solo David Lowery show—but don’t tell that to all the Campout fans who came out. The Campout started when Cracker recorded the record Kerosene Hat in Pioneertown. Lead guitarist Johnny Hickman shared via social media: “Memories of the morning that Pappy and I were making go-bos (sound walls) to use in the soundstage/barn where we recorded Kerosene Hat. Our producer, the late Don Smith, came in and yelled, ‘Johnny … get your guitar-playing fingers away from that skill (sic) saw.’” The gold record for Kerosene Hat hangs on the Wall of Fame at Pappy and Harriet’s. Wednesday night featured Peter Case, who had a short but incredible set that was briefly interrupted by a young lady who was asked to leave. That was followed was…
24 Jul 2019
Beck, Cage the Elephant, Spoon and Starcrawler made a Night Running Tour stop at the FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine on Wednesday, July 17. While the tour did not make a Coachella Valley stop, all of the performers are familiar with the area, having made appearances at Coachella, Desert Daze or Pappy and Harriet’s. Spoon was its usual great self, flawlessly executing the band’s hits, with Britt Daniel jokingly praising Arrow de Wilde, lead singer of Starcrawler, for “finally calming down.” (However, her performance was anything but calm: Arrow de Wilde is a female version of Iggy Pop, someone who never stands still and runs around like she just escaped from an insane asylum—in a wonderful rock ’n’ roll sort of way. Unfortunately, I missed most of her performance.) Spoon’s “The Way We Get By” is always a smash with audiences—and is even more popular after presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg shared…
23 Jul 2019
KOLARS, a Pioneertown favorite, returned to Pappy and Harriet’s on July 13 to open for Guster. The members of KOLARS apparently love the desert; Rob Kolar and Lauren Brown have been regulars since the days of former band He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, and they performed at the Joshua Tree Music Festival last October. The fan composition tilted toward Guster, with many fans wearing handmade T-shirts declaring their love for the headliners. I did run into a few Crumbs (Cracker fans), introduced to KOLARS via the annual Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven Campout; these fans made the trip just to see KOLARS. KOLARS’ can-do attitude and musical energy won over a whole new group of fans. Rob Kolar greeted the crowd: “How is everyone doing? In honor of Guster, we will count down this song backwards, 4321.” On the third attempt, the audiences members’ synapses synced, and they accomplished the complex…
17 Jun 2019
Several weeks ago, I got an email from music photographer Christina Sanchez, asking me if I was going to see The Longshot at Pappy and Harriet’s. Sanchez does not often go to Pappy’s, and because she covers bands that almost guarantee you’ll get hurt in a mosh pit, I figured The Longshot was some hard-core punk band. Nope: She later explained that The Longshot is Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s side project—and the band is on a small, intimate tour, which included a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s. Since Green Day can fill the Rose Bowl, I had to make sure I saw The Longshot last Monday. I was tipped off that hardcore fans had tried to camp out the night before at Pappy and Harriet’s. With that in mind, I arrived at Pappy’s at 4:30 p.m., with doors opening at 5—and there was already a long line of…
14 Jun 2019
I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the twice-per-summer Splash House festival for at least five years. While the venues have changed over the years, it’s almost always hot as hell—and a great time for all. The June festivities kicked off at the Palm Springs Air Museum. Thousands attended the almost-sold-out preparty, allowing visitors to get acclimated to the heat and learn a better understanding of the necessary hydration levels. Sometimes I wonder: Does music drive the party, or is the party a reason for the music? The music was somewhat mellow on Friday night, but the audience is always entertaining. I overheard a couple of large, athletic guys trying to start a chant in the VIP section, yelling, “Twist the knob!” over and over again. Perhaps it was a cynical observation on their part regarding the the EDM genre? The highlight of Saturday was definitely Englishman Pete Tong, one of…
28 May 2019
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Joan Jett may be 60—but she didn’t show any signs of slowing down in the slightest when she rocked the Fantasy Springs Event Center on Sunday night, May 26. Jett’s attire—a black bodysuit with bedazzled stars, leaving her arms and shoulders exposed—made her resemble a female pro-wrestler. But she’s an ass-kicker in rock ’n’ roll—so it wasn’t a bad look for her. After starting with “Victim of Circumstance,” she immediately went into “Cherry Bomb,” the 1976 song made famous by her previous band, The Runaways. She followed that up with her cover of Gary Glitter’s “Do You Want to Touch Me.” Toward the middle of her show, she talked about the 1987 box-office bomb of a film she did with Michael J. Fox, Light of Day. She mentioned that Bruce Springsteen wrote the title track, which is performed by Jett and Fox at the end of the film—and then said…
30 Apr 2019
What a treat, going to my first Stagecoach. I have many pleasant memories of past Coachella fests, and I was fortunate enough to attend the legendary Desert Trip, so the grounds were familiar to me—but here, they were just a little more country, as the Osmonds like to say. I saw lots of guys wearing $21.95 straw cowboy hats from a company that makes tractor supplies … and I must confess that I bought one, too, solely for the UV protection. I only spotted one MAGA hat—worn by a college-age lad sporting his finest preppy look. But everyone was friendly and pleasant, even when I bumped into people rushing to the stage. On Friday, Kane Brown started his 7:30 p.m. set with “Cold Spot”: “It’s 4:30 Friday; I get off at 5. I come into your place, you come into mine. Got a bottle of Jack and cheap red wine;…

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