CVIndependent

Wed10232019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

A while back, Independent contributor Baynard Woods put out a call for alternative publications across the country to share information about musicians who are writing and performing protest songs in the era of President Donald J. Trump.

The response was amazing: More than 20 publications—including the Coachella Valley Independent—did writeups on protest songs created in their markets. Many of them are fantastic.

Here is the compilation—and we’ll start off our abbreviated list with the Independent’s contribution. —Jimmy Boegle

The After Lashes, “We the Sheeple”

Coachella Valley

The After Lashes is a new all-female punk band that features Ali Saenz, the wife of former Dwarves and Excel drummer Greg Saenz.

Frontwoman Esther Sanchez explained the inspiration behind the band’s song “We the Sheeple.”

“‘We the Sheeple’ was an easy song to write, because it came from a place of frustration and growing resentment toward the current powers that be, and, of course, more specifically, Donald Trump,” she said. “We have a president who calls anything he doesn’t like ‘fake news’ while simultaneously spending an insane amount of time tweeting nonsense and lies like a crazy person.

“The policies he intends to establish are harmful to pretty much everyone who is not wealthy; unfortunately, so many who voted for him were unknowingly voting against their own best interests. The song is very much about uniting against a tyrant, because that is precisely what we believe Trump to be.” —Brian Blueskye

Keith Morris, “What Happened to Your Party?”

Charlottesville, Va.

Known to at least one of his fellow musicians as “our rockin’ protest grouch in chief,” Keith Morris has a slew of protest songs, such as “Psychopaths and Sycophants,” “Prejudiced and Blind” and “Brownsville Market,” from his Dirty Gospel album, plus “Blind Man,” “Peaceful When You Sleep” and “Border Town” from Love Wounds and Mars. His latest release: “What Happened to Your Party?” —Erin O'Hare

Thunderfist, “Suck It”

Salt Lake City

Sure, there are more articulate ways to denounce Trump than a song called “Suck It.” Countering blustery, bigoted bullshit with artfully composed, well-reasoned takedowns is how we’ll effect change. That doesn’t mean we can't occasionally vent our rage by strapping on Les Pauls, cranking up Marshalls, raising middle fingers and offering a blues-based, punk-rock invitation to fellatio. And maybe also, as the final, snarling chord slides into silence, by calling him a “fat baby fuckface.” —Randy Harward

Dooley, Lor Roger and TLow, “CIT4DT”

Baltimore

This Boosie-tinged Thee Donald diss from Baltimore, which dropped long before inauguration, still thrills: “Boy ain’t even white, you yellow / You said you’d date your own daughter; you a sicko.” Stakes are high here, too—the mastermind behind it, Dooley, is Muslim—and right-wing semi-fascist snowflakes took the song totally seriously, denounced it as a “death threat” (“CIT4DT” stands for “chopper in the trunk for Donald Trump”) and bemoaned its Baltimore origins. Meanwhile, the trio responsible for it thought the shit was hilarious. —Brandon Soderberg

Trombone Shorty and Dumpstaphunk, “Justice”

New Orleans

Trombone Shorty and Dumpstaphunk teamed up on a song called “Justice”—released on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated president. A mélange of funk, jazz and New Orleans brass band sounds, the video for “Justice” slyly marries video footage of Trump against pointed lyrics.

“Inauguration day seemed to be an appropriate time to voice the need for equal say and opportunity for all people,” said Dumpstaphunk’s Ivan Neville. “We entered a New Year with a lot of unanswered questions on the subject of ‘justice’ that we all felt a little uneasy about. But there’s only so much we can do and this track is our way of expressing our worries.” —Gambit Weekly

Lonely Horse, “Devil in the White House”

San Antonio, Texas

Shots fired! Lonely Horse comes out guns-a-blazing with the track “Devil in the White House.” Opening with a sludgy cadence that crescendos into a tumultuous rock ’n’ roll explosion, the “desert rock” duo of Nick Long and Travis Hild make very clear their feelings about the 45th POTUS. —Chris Conde

Mal Jones, J Blacco, Lost Firstborne, and DJ Shotgun, “CODE RED: Hands Up, Don’t Shoot"

Jacksonville, Fla.

The spate of deaths at the hands of law enforcement led Mal Jones and his collaborators to take action.

“We came up with this song after all of the recent acquittals in the cases related to the steadily rising murders of unarmed black men in the hands of law enforcement in America,” Jones said. “We wanted to protest about this issue in the most effective way we know how—through song. Blacco explained how the song came together.

“My inspiration for writing my verse was, first, the climate of events going on at the time,” he said. “It was right after the Alton Sterling situation (Alton Sterling was shot and killed in Baton Rouge, La., by police while he was being held down on the ground.) When my man Lost Firstborne played the beat, that’s just what the track was speaking to me. It had a haunting soulful vibe about it, so once I heard it, everything flowed rather easily,” —Claire Goforth

Lingua Franca, “A Man’s World“

Athens, Ga.

Shortly after Inauguration Day, two Athens studios invited 19 local bands to commemorate the dawn of the Trump Age, tracking 20 songs in a marathon 48-hour session. While much of the resulting album, Athens Vs. Trump Comp 2017, is suitably bleak, ascendant emcee Lingua Franca’s “A Man’s World” stands out for its sheer defiance. “Frenzied and indiscreet,” it’s a fiery feminist anthem for the resistance. —Gabe Vodicka

OG Swaggerdick, “Fuck Donald Trump”

Boston

Among diehard hip-hop heads as well as artists, Boston’s underground rap scene is renowned as one of the most lyrically elaborate and intellectual anywhere. But when it comes to straight-up protesting and verbally impaling the potty-mouthed POTUS, there’s something undeniably satisfying, even admirable, about OG Swaggerdick’s simple and straightforward election anthem, “Fuck Donald Trump.” From the fittingly filthy rhymes—“never give props to a punk ass trick / motherfuck Donald Trump, he can suck my dick”—to the strangers on the street who gladly join along in rapping in the video, these are protest lyrics you’ll still be able to remember and perhaps even rap for relief on occasions when the president leaves you otherwise speechless. —Chris Faraone

Clint Breeze and The Groove, “Blood Splatter”

Indianapolis

Featuring more than a dozen guest contributors—including poets, rappers and jazz musicians—Clint Breeze’s album Nappy Head weaves a phantasmagoric assemblage of words and sounds into a razor-sharp critique of racial oppression in modern America.

“I wanted to symbolize the state of oppression that black people experience every day,” he said, “from not getting fair treatment in the justice system, to getting shot and killed by law enforcement, to being unfairly treated in the workforce—you name it. I wanted to make a statement on how we as black people view this oppressive society that we live in. I also wanted to give a different perspective from white people. I have a couple of my friends who are white on the album speaking about the nature of white privilege.”

“Blood Splatter” is the record’s most cutting track, featuring spoken word artist Too Black, with cascading cymbal cracks and careening sax. —Kyle Long and Katherine Coplen

Priests, “Right Wing”

Washington, D.C.

There’s been no shortage of scathing political protest songs coming out of D.C. since, well, the birth of punk. But in recent years, post-punk quartet Priests has succeeded in reminding the rest of the country that D.C. is, and always has been, pissed the fuck off.

“Right Wing,” off the band’s breakthrough EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power, so perfectly captures the ass-backwardsness of living in a country controlled by capitalists, fascists, racists, and war mongers. “Everything everything / So right wing / Everything everything / So right wing / Purse searches, pep rallies / Purse searches, SUVs,” sings Katie Alice Greer. It reads like a short, poetic treatise on how the toxicity of right-wing ideals infects everyday life. —Matt Cohen

Withdraw, “Disgust”

Columbia, S.C.

On its 2017 debut EP Home, Columbia’s Withdraw oscillates violently between bristling, pedal-to-the floor emo (think At the Drive-In) and brutal, clawing crust punk. And on “Disgust,” the band proves the virtue of its versatility, shifting from an unflinchingly blackened hardcore blitz that bashes sexual abusers to a more expansive, anthemic coda that seeks to lift up the victims— “You are not tarnished!” It’s a potent statement, a searing declaration of alliance in musical realm more often derided for problematic gender politics. —Jordan Lawrence

NODON, “Alt-Wrong”

Burlington, Vt.

NODON is an anti-fascist, anti-hate power-punk duo born out of the 2016 presidential election. Seething with caustic epithets, the duo’s songs condemn xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, white supremacy and, above all, President Donald Trump.

“Alt-Wrong,” from the 2017 EP, Covfefe, delivers a swift and vicious kick to the alt-right’s figurative crotch. Over razor-sharp guitar riffs and seething drums, NODON screams its battle cry: “Annihilate this hate! Not right! Alt-wrong!” —Jordan Adams

Rmllw2llz, “So Amerikkkan”

Louisville, Ky.

Nationwide, when you think of the Louisville music scene, your mind probably bounces to My Morning Jacket, Bonnie “Prince” Billy or maybe even White Reaper—all who are great—but the city’s hip-hop scene is packed with poignant hip-hop artists, and if you’re looking for a pure protest song, look no further than Rmllw2llz’s “So Amerikkkan,” in which he says: “Fuck Trump, he’s a bum and Hillary trash, too.”

The song was released a few months ago, but if you give it a listen, you can hear a lot of the country’s past, present and future angst packed into a few powerful minutes. —Scott Recker

Michael Bone, “My Peace Will Outlive You”

Chico, Calif.

Michael Bone is a Chico musician, husband and father who has a day job teaching music to developmentally disabled kids, a night job playing drums for jazz-combo Bogg, and dozens of side projects including running the 1day Song Club. The latter is a songwriting group that receives a one-word prompt every other week, after which participants are tasked with writing, recording and submitting a song to be posted online (at www.1dayclub.com) within 24 hours.

“My Peace Will Outlive You,” an angst-ridden yet hopeful slice of psychedelic pop, is Bone's contribution to the prompt of “Trump.” —Jason Cassidy

Dais, “Atrocity”

Rochester, N.Y.

Dais tells you exactly where it stands on “Atrocity,” the first track off its self-titled debut EP. The post-hardcore band makes a racing, pounding apology to the Earth before (sort of) slowing down to confront the powers that be.

“Show us a tyrant / And we’ll show you our grievance / Fuck that, we will fight this,” vocalist Travis Rankin yells and strains in defiance.

“The person who the States had elected was talking about withdrawing us from The Paris Climate Accord,” Rankin says. “We felt betrayed and began writing this song. It’s an apology to the Earth for us not being as good to it as it has been to us.” —Jake Clapp

Iris DeMent, “We Won’t Keep Quiet”

Iowa City, Iowa

Back in February, Iowa City held a Solidarity Rally Against the Ban, proclaiming support for immigrant populations and refugees in the wake of Trump’s first and most ridiculous attempted travel ban. In between the community leaders, local politicians and youth speakers, a variety of area musicians performed, including the brilliant Iris DeMent. She debuted a song, “We Won't Keep Quiet,” that captured the feeling in the crowd that day in a really powerful way. —Little Village

Joshua Asante, “No Time for Despair”

Little Rock, Ark.

Joshua Asante, best known for fronting the bands Amasa Hines and Velvet Kente, is also a photographer—someone who delights in the tangible process of making art. It’s in his latest work as a solo artist that this becomes most evident, Asante hunching down over a briefcase stuffed with loop stations and processors.

Of “No Time For Despair,” Asante says: “In times of distress and turmoil, it’s easy to get kinda caught up in the collective despair, so the lyrics are very much about, like, ‘Yeah, times are tumultuous, but there’s also a lot of really wonderful magical things that are going on in your life.’ ... That is probably the supreme act of defiance—to be joyful, to be loving.” —Stephanie Smittle

The Whiskey Farm, “Flag Pin”

Madison, Wis.

The Whiskey Farm is an Americana/folk rock band from Madison, Wis. Formed in 2010, the band has produced four albums and won Madison Area Music Awards in the Folk/Americana and Ensemble Vocals categories.

The band’s most recent album, Songs of Resistance (2017), is the band’s first record comprised entirely of social and political music, covering topics including immigration policy, faux patriotism, money in politics, gun control, equal rights and gerrymandering. “Flag Pin” is a tongue-in-cheek blues-inspired indictment of opportunistic patriots, including Trump.

The band released Songs of Resistance as a benefit for the ACLU of Wisconsin. —Catherine Capellaro

E-Turn, “Ill Legal Alien”

Orlando, Fla.

Orlando MC E-Turn raises a particularly eloquent middle-finger in the face of Donald Trump. The Persian American, outspoken, femme MC is a firebrand on the mic, and her lyrics deftly meld the personal with the political in ways that hardcore dudes could only dream of. The fury and technique with which she drop bars—and other, usually male, MCs—onstage is the proud definition of a nasty woman. Her anthemic “Ill Legal Alien” may predate Trump’s election, but the Swamburger-produced track (Solillaquists of Sound) is still furiously of-the-moment. —Matthew Moyer and Bao Le-Huu

Cheap Perfume, “Trump Roast”

Colorado Springs, Colo.

Cheap Perfume is a four-piece Colorado Springs band who followe in the tradition of feminist punk acts like Le Tigre and The Slits. “Trump Roast” is, not surprisingly, one of the band’s biggest crowd-pleaser, as Stephanie Byrne and Jane No deliver a “Dear Don” letter to the resident president, culminating in a final verse that grows more timely, and more serious, with each passing day: “You wanna ban Muslims? Well, we wanna ban you / Your fascist ideas wrapped in red, white, and blue / Your KKK clones won’t be the ones to choose / Enjoy your last gasp ’cause racism’s through.” —Bill Forman

DBL DRGN, “Trim the Bushes”

Charleston, S.C.

Several election-reflection songs that came out of Charleston following Nov. 7, 2016. One of those that stood out is by a local hip-hop duo—Damn Skippy and Bad Mojo—dubbed DBL DRGN. Before releasing the audio, the guys filmed the video for the song “Trim the Bushes” on Election Day. With Bad Mojo dressed as a dragon, high-fiving passers-by, the silly aspect of the visuals was meant to complement the circus-like atmosphere of the 2016 election; it also brought a smile to the faces of voters on an otherwise stressful day. The video was released on Inauguration Day, another attempt to lift the spirits of those who felt the doom and gloom all too well that January morning. The duo rather brilliantly mashes up George Bush (“Fool me once ... can’t get fooled again”) with Bob Marley (“You can fool some people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all of the time”), while the video shows footage of Donald Trump’s remarks on everything from immigration and Mexicans to birtherism, Putin, John McCain and women. The acknowledgment of all the things progressives find disturbing about the current administration, coupled with the sense that folks should keep their heads up (and alert) and stick together for the duration of the hand we’ve been dealt, made for a perfect combo. —Kelly Rae Smith

Back in the ‘90s, punk-rock fans looked forward to the Warped Tour every year.

Today … not so much. The Warped Tour has evolved and no longer features such an emphasis on punk—and that’s where the It’s Not Dead festival comes in.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino, the second version of the festival took place. Unlike the Warped Tour, the It’s Not Dead festival is a one-day affair—and attendees have to make some tough scheduling decisions. Everyone who is someone in punk rock fills the lineup, and the main stage features most of the best bands, meaning it’s hard to break away to see some of the bands on other stages.

Shortly after the festival opened, Warped Tour/It’s Not Dead founder Kevin Lyman appeared on the main stage, talked briefly for a moment and mentioned that the large stage rotated. One side was named the Gary Tovar Stage, after Goldenvoice founder Gary Tovar, and the other side was called the Gabby Gaborno Stage, named after the late Cadillac Tramps front man who passed away after a tough battle with cancer earlier this year. Lyman introduced the first act—Wraths, featuring Pennywise vocalist Jim Lindberg.

Wraths kicked ass—but many attendees hadn’t yet arrived or were in the parking lot tailgating, meaning they missed one hell of a show. Lindberg’s stage presence and intensity, which has made Pennywise great, was also present in Wraths. Toward the end of the set, Lindberg said the band didn’t know what to play, given they had only recorded a handful of songs and had five minutes left.

The Interrupters, a Los Angeles ska punk band that continues to grow in popularity, played after Wraths, as the crowd size continued to grow. The 100-plus-degree temps didn’t stop the Bivona brothers from wearing their signature white dress shirts, black ties and black pants, while frontwoman Aimee Interrupter was dressed all in black. The Interrupters put out a lot of positive energy, and most of the crowd was dancing, or slam-dancing in the mosh pit. Kevin Bivona declared that It’s Not Dead is his favorite festival, and that he hopes they come back in the future.

After skate-punk band Good Riddance put on a solid and energetic set, GBH followed—like a shot of adrenaline, which led to an even larger mosh pit. The members of the English street punk outfit that formed in the late 1970s might have appeared old, but they were intense. Vocalist Colin Abrahall declared that they were angry old men (in less appealing terms), and their set was brutal. I saw one attendee in a wheelchair go crowd-surfing—but his wheel chair tipped forward, launching him out of it. It wasn’t long before the guy was back in his wheelchair and rocking out on the security barrier.

Later in the day, former Black Flag frontman Keith Morris and his band OFF! put on a fantastic set. He took some time to talk about how he remembered coming to the Glen Helen Amphitheater in the ’90s for OzzFest, saying that the parking lot tailgating resembled what was shown in the ’80s documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot, and adding a story about a young woman who said she needed to give blow jobs in the parking lot in order to pay for her ticket.

As early evening set in, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes took the stage dressed in disco outfits. Missing were two regulars—NOFX bassist Fat Mike and Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett—with Bad Religion bassist Jay Bentley and Face to Face guitarist Scott Shiflett taking their places. Frontman Spike Slawson sounded like he was calling San Bernardino “San Berdina” when he addressed the audience, and he was full of amusing anecdotes, including one about how he had the hots for some guy who also had the hots for him, and that they were busted in a park “finger banging.” One of the highlights of their covers-filled set was Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”

I decided to venture over to the adjoining Fender stages to catch headlining performances by the U.S. Bombs and Voodoo Glow Skulls. Duane Peters of the U.S. Bombs has received a lot of negative attention as of late due to … well, being Duane Peters. He’s made controversial posts on social media as of late, saying that Tony Hawk was involved in a conspiracy relating to his late son’s death after a car accident, insulting local pro-skateboarder Eddie Elguera, and using homophobic slurs. When the U.S. Bombs went onstage, Duane Peters required the aid of a cane, but quickly put it aside when he began to sing. The U.S. Bombs performed well, but Duane seemed to struggle a bit through the set.

Riverside punk-ska legends Voodoo Glow Skulls have also endured some recent social media controversy, after now-former frontman Frank Casillas reportedly began making pro-Trump posts—upsetting the other two Casillas brothers, bandmates Eddie and Jorge. After Frank Casillas declared during a recent show that he was retiring from the band—an announcement which came as a surprise to the rest of the band—the remaining members recruited Death by Stereo frontman Efrem Schulz to finish out the tour. Voodoo Glow Skulls took the stage to a very large and welcoming audience, and Schulz’s stage presence was extremely high energy. The fans loved it.

Dropkick Murphys and Rancid brought their co-headlining tour to a close on Saturday night at It’s Not Dead. The first quarter of the Murphys’ hour-long set was all older material from their first two albums, including “Barroom Hero,” followed by “Do or Die,” “Never Alone,” “Boys on the Docks,” and “The Gang’s All Here.” The band always delivers a great set, and Rancid’s performance was just as good.

Beyond the music, the festival included a tent featuring artwork, photography and … books? Yes, books. In fact, Jim Lindberg did a book signing in the tent in the afternoon, as did Keith Morris of OFF! and Jack Grisham of TSOL.

“To actually be able to talk to the people that read your books, it’s cool,” Grisham said. “It’s the same thing to me as music. If they read the book and they enjoy it, it means we have a connection. We probably connected somewhere else down the line. I actually like to meet the people who like what I do.”

One of the more interesting selections for sale on Grisham’s table was a children’s book, I Wish There Were Monsters, which was written and illustrated by Grisham.

“It’s about a kid who has all this bravado and wants to fight all these monsters, and talking about all these monsters he wants to fight,” Grisham explained. “At the end of it, he says, ‘Hey, I wish there were monsters, just not tonight.’ He cuddles up in his bed with a cat. It was fun to do something that was laid back, and when I wrote it, it was never planned for release. I wrote it for my kids. I would just Xerox copies and hand them to friends.”

Published in Reviews

Former Black Flag and Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris has always had a lot of fascinating and often dark stories to tell—and now those stories have been put to paper, thanks to his new book, My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor.

Morris and his current band, OFF!, will be returning to the area for a long-sold-out New Year’s Eve show with Redd Kross and The Melvins at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

During a recent phone interview, Morris said that writing the book with Jim Ruland was not easy.

“The difficult thing for me was just getting over the initial situation of having to work with an assigned writer,” Morris said. “We did 70 hours of interviews, and he had to transcribe all of it, sit and listen to everything, and take notes. When you read the book, there’s a certain flow to it, and it’s like listening to a punk-rock record. It moves really quickly, and I really appreciated that.”

There are a lot of rough stories in My Damage—related to Morris’ addiction issues, his departure from Black Flag, and the difficult relationship with his father. Surprisingly, Morris said none of it was hard to talk about.

“Not at all,” he said. “One of the great things about what happened with this process we went through is I work steps: I’m a recovering alcoholic and a cocaine addict. You go to meetings … and there are all these different steps to take for this enlightenment—tapping into your spirituality, and seeing the light. I consider it a bit of a self-cleansing and self-realization process. With the book, I got to tell some stories I got to get off my chest, so it worked out really well for me.”

Morris said he’s received complaints about some of the stories in the book.

“I had some people reach out to me and say they were really upset about what I had written about them in the book,” he said. “One of them who I had a bit of a conversation with—if you consider a Facebook chat a conversation—I said, ‘Look, we’re still friends. What I said wasn’t damaging, and all I was doing was telling the truth. Why would I sugarcoat anything?’ All I was doing was telling a story.

“One other person accused me of being a liar. That person can turn around and say things like, ‘My friend owns a bookstore, and she’s not going to carry your book, because you’re a punk-rock loser, and you’re a sexist.’ On that note, I might actually use that quote for the back of my second book to help sell it.”

Morris shared a story in the book about how he almost died in Norway from issues related to diabetes while he was there at the invitation of the band Turbonegro.

“I think that if the little old lady who came into my hotel room hadn’t come back when she did, it would have been the end,” Morris said. “I was completely dehydrated and gasping for air. That was about all I was capable of doing.”

Interestingly, not-so-positive parts of the book mention Steven McDonald of Redd Kross—who also currently plays bass in OFF! with Morris.

“Steven, who is actually a good friend, and I at one point we were at odds,” Morris said. “He listened to the audio version of the book while he was touring with The Melvins. Steven has not complained about anything. Steven is like a younger brother, because I’ve known him since he was 11 years old. He’s my bro; he’s my friend; and I love the guy. He can be a freak and irritating at times, but that dude gets an A-plus in my world.”

My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor

By Keith Morris with Jim Ruland

Da Capo

336 pages, $24.99

Coachella 2015 is now in the history books. There were a few moans and groans when the lineup came out months ago, but all and all, the festival’s performances were a success—including some fantastic shows on Day 3.

One of the most anticipated performances of the late-morning/early-afternoon was Chicano Batman. The group's psychedelic Latin sound was most definitely appropriate for Coachella, and a lot of local fans who had already seen the band’s local shows were present.

Coachella Valley's own Alf Alpha performed in the Sahara Tent shortly after noon and started off his DJ set with a lot of energy. He hopped up on a table and demanded that people raise their hands up—with the incentive of free Alf Alpha t-shirts.

The Mojave Stage became the de facto punk-rock venue early in the day. Touché Amoré offered a brutal hardcore set that was scheduled earlier than one would expect, but a lot of punk-rock devotees were present and ready to slam-dance. The energy was incredible during one of the hardest-rocking sets of the day.

OFF! was set up and ready to go when Keith Morris quietly said into his microphone at the 1:55 p.m. set time: "Should we wait another five minutes for 15 more people to show up?" The crowd had thinned after Touché Amoré, but OFF! wound up with a decent sized-crowd. Morris worked himself into a frenzy while screaming lyrics; guitarist Dimitri Coats was active and looked exhausted as they finished their set. A few minutes of tech issues aside, Morris and Coats rocked hard from beginning to end, when Morris thanked the founders of Goldenvoice individually for "making it happen."

Stagecoach is this coming weekend, but Coachella attendees were treated to a preview, of sorts, thanks to Sturgill Simpson in the Gobi tent. He has a sound similar to that of Waylon Jennings. While his music reminded of vintage country, Simpson garnered an appreciative crowd that offered a loud ovation at the end of his set. There’s one thing you can't deny about Coachella: The crowd is open-minded and eager to hear new and unexpected things.

Former child actress Jenny Lewis said she was performing at her seventh Coachella while on the Outdoor Stage. She noted the vibe was much more "low-key" than it was during Weekend 1—and that she liked it that way. Her relaxed, calm show made for a nice set to lay on the grass and take in.

Ryan Adams followed Lewis, and brought with him stage props that included oversized Fender amps, two actual working Atari arcade machines (Asteroids!) and a Dr. Pepper machine. It created interesting ambiance for a guy who has been known to perform punk, metal and country. He mostly played his alt-country material, which included some of his ballads. He pointed out that Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead was standing at the soundboard; some people thought he was joking, but Weir really was at the soundboard.

Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine) made news last week by jumping off the Coachella stage and breaking her foot. Even with the broken foot (although she didn't appear to be wearing a cast), she returned to perform what was supposed to be a half-hour set on the Coachella Stage. Seated at the front of the stage, she managed to put on a spectacular show, and her singing voice was beautiful. Toward the end of the show, she looked over to the edge of the stage and said it was a long way down—no wonder she was injured. Props to Florence Welch for putting on what turned out to be a great 45-minute show and not disappointing her fans.

As Drake took the stage, the Coachella grounds were lit up by the art installations. The caterpillar and the butterfly were both in the Coachella Stage area, as were two of the Balloon Chains. Despite being several minutes late, Drake seemed to have the largest crowd—not bad for someone with some of the weakest credentials for any Coachella headliner in recent history.

Until next year …

Scroll down to see a photo gallery from Guillermo Prieto of the Day 3 action. 

Published in Reviews

If Iggy Pop is the Godfather of Punk, Keith Morris the Warrior of Punk.

The former Black Flag and Circle Jerks frontman is almost 60 years old, but he’s not slowing down: Since 2010, he’s been fronting his new band, Off!

Off! will be playing at Coachella on Sunday, April 12 and 19.

Black Flag was one of the first Los Angeles punk bands to make an infamous name for itself. The band recorded its debut EP, Nervous Breakdown, in 1978; it contained what would become four of Black Flag’s most-well-known songs: “Nervous Breakdown,” “Fix Me,” “I’ve Had It” and “Wasted.”

However, Morris left Black Flag in 1979 due to disputes with band mate Greg Ginn—and a severe cocaine addiction. Morris soon formed the Circle Jerks with Greg Hetson (who later went on to join Bad Religion). Fun fact: The Circle Jerks also included Zander Schloss, half of semi-local band Sean and Zander. The band was active up until 1990, when it became more of a part-time group. During a recent phone interview, Morris discussed his days with Black Flag and the Circle Jerks.

“I was in Black Flag for three years, which isn’t really that short of a time compared to Ron Reyes, who was in the band for six months. Dez Cadena was there for a while; Henry Rollins was there for a while—but Greg Ginn was there the longest.”

Most of the early punk groups that formed in New York City and Los Angeles never saw any career potential in what they were doing.

“My whole strategy was a non-strategy and just being kind of a straggler,” Morris said. “I had no set mentality, because there were no rules, and there was no manager standing over us telling us to line our bank accounts, sell lots of records, lots of CDs, cassettes, 8-tracks, T-shirts or any of that fun stuff. There were no rules. That was my saving grace in that. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a follower, but there was a wide-open road, a map and a van. You would get in the van and go wherever the van would go and play wherever the van would stop, and all of that fun stuff.”

Where did the van stop? Morris has stories … lots of them.

“You’re pulling into Mobile, Ala., and you’re playing at Nick’s Fun House, dealing with all of the rednecks,” he said. “The Circle Jerks did the same thing Black Flag did: We played locally and everywhere we could play. We played a birthday party in Malibu on a cliff overlooking the ocean in front of a bunch of rich Jewish parents, and they didn’t like what we were up to. We got invited to play the all-girl Catholic school in Flintridge, where the Los Angeles county sheriff showed up in full force with two or three helicopters and the billy clubs. We had our moments.”

The bands also played shows for all-ages crowds at Veterans of Foreign Wars halls. “We’ve actually played places like that where the kids were breaking the showcase in the entrance room and pulling the Civil War bayonets and swords out of the display and actually swashbuckling. They probably didn’t realize the history—they weren’t fighting any kind of civil war, and they weren’t fighting North versus South. They were all being like a bunch of pirates. They were pirates, and it was Black Flag anarchy.”

Morris said that while he’s almost 60, the past several years have been among his most active, while Off! has released three records and toured the world. Morris also took part in a Black Flag reunion called FLAG in 2013.

“I’ve never been as busy as I have been in the last four years,” he said. “All of the other guys have kids, wives, families, relatives, rent and health insurance, and all of those responsibilities, so we don’t get to go out for three months at a time—maybe four weeks at a time.”

Morris said he’s wowed by today’s punk-rock DIY network.

“It exists now more than it ever has,” he said. “Granted, we have had bands that have actually tapped out and mapped out and charted out routes for bands when they go out on tour. But there’s always that place where you pull into town, and the bartender is going to have hemorrhoids, and he’s not going to want to have all the all-ages kids come into his bar.”

Morris recently signed a book deal that he described as “decent” and is putting the finishing touches on an autobiography. One issue that he will probably discuss is his health: In the late ’90s, friends organized concerts to help him with his medical bills. He also became ill while touring in Europe with Off!—and nearly died.

“I’m a diabetic, and I’m approaching 60 years old,” he said. “I love Southern California weather, but I wish that when it was cold, it would be cold for two weeks so we could get acclimated to that. … For me, having been a cocaine addict, I’ve fried all the fibers of the interior of my nose. My sinus passages are completely ruined. Anytime there’s a drastic shift in the weather, I get clogged up; I get post-nasal drip, and wake up with a headache, sort throat and a stomach ache. My deal is that I find myself in this mentality that I’m thinking I’m competing with these younger guys, and I don’t want to get out and jog, so I have to mentally get myself up to the fact that I’ve got to get up there and act like a 19-year-old kid with a cherry bomb that’s been lodged up my rectum.”

Morris said Off! is happy to be playing at Coachella.

“There are a bunch of other bands that are playing, and we hear all the complaints (from fans): ‘I’m looking at the roster, and they want $8,000 for a weekend, and there are two bands that I like, and I hate all the rest of this stuff. And why are you playing with Drake? He’s no good.’ … The bottom line is if you don’t like it, you don’t have to go to it, so shut up and move along!

“This will be our second time at Coachella, and the reason we’re playing Coachella is because the first time we played, we played in a big tent in front of about 8,000 girls trying to find some shade. If you’re in a band, and you get to play in front of 5,000 women, aren’t you going to take that opportunity?”

Published in Previews