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Fri11242017

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

I suffered from knit-cap envy when I was greeted with a smile last Friday, March 3, by Pappy and Harriet’s chief doorologist Beth Fausnacht Clifford: She was wearing a Deap Vally knit cap—the last one from the merch table, she claimed.

A love for Deap Vally runs true in high desert, thanks to many appearances, including an opening gig for Babes in Toyland at that band’s historic reunion at Pappy’s on Feb. 10, 2015.

Phil Pirrone, the genius behind Moon Block Party and JJUUJJUU, brought Desert Daze Caravan—a mini Desert Daze Festival—to Pappy and Harriet’s last Friday. Another sold-out show reminded music fans to plan ahead, since sellouts seem to be becoming the norm.

Phil Pirrone stepped up and commented, “Does this guitar look green to you? It’s a red guitar,” an observation possibly due to the funky lava-lamp-type lighting projected on the stage. Pirrone’s JJUUJJUU kicked things off with a psychedelic jam that hooked you into a nirvana of bliss as you were swept up into the band’s energy. I have seen JJUUJJUU many times, and I know I need to relax and be in the moment to understand the intricacy of these space jams while riding their sonic waves.

Froth followed up, keeping the psychedelic motorcade of rock going by bringing fuzzy reverb fun during a finely executed 45-minute set. Froth’s lead singer, Joo-Joo Ashworth, mentioned: “I am super happy to be here at this cool place.”

Deap Vally turned the lights down during the band’s set, mixing old and new songs from this duo. Julie Edwards was tucked in the corner, as Lindsey Troy used up the rest of the space onstage. They wasted no time running through some of their best jams, at one point interrupted by equipment failure, when Troy announced: “One of my amps is fucked,” causing a pause to their short fantastic set. “Walk of Shame” was dedicated to the ladies, Troy said, as it was a perfect anthem for any spectators who may have partied too much or just decided to let loose that night: “Baby I don’t feel no blame. Last night was a nice surprise. I’m still wearing last night’s eyes, goin’ on this walk of shame. Baby I don’t feel no blame.”

Night Beats took the warm-up slot. Danny Lee Blackwell donned a bolero hat, something that has apparently overtaken the ever-popular floppy hat that was once preferred by visitors to the high desert: I counted at least six boleros that night. Night Beats was impressive, mixing blues and rock that contrasted with the psychedelic themes of the night. Blackwell introduced “No Cops” by proclaiming, “Fuck the Police!” and singing in an eerie Dylan style that was very stirring. Night Beats ended their performance with “Puppet on a String.”

Temples, a quartet from Kettering, England, headlined the Desert Daze Caravan. Lead singer James Bagshaw reminded me of a better-looking Ray Davies, with excellent high-pitched vocals keeping one foot in the ’60s, and the other firmly planted in 21st century. The set started with “All Join In,” from new sophomore release Volcano, which had plenty of drum reverb and a perfect melody by Bagshaw. The show also included shoegazey “Keep in the Dark,” which had elements of grunge, as well as the stellar “Shelter Song.”

Temples played hard, and earned admiration from the fans in attendance. Modernizing the echoes of the musical past and formulating a sound uniquely their own, Temples create an exciting path for rock which is definitely buzzworthy.

One random observation from the night: After the third song, photographers like me normally move away from the front of the stage. I moved to the back to watch on the monitor and take notes, when a young man sat next to me wearing an outfit that one could describe as Sgt. Pepper meets Steven Tyler. He grabbed my notebook and wrote me a note: “Come live in my heart and pay no rent.” I then walked away and worked my way toward the front of the soundboard, when I noticed a tall woman in a baby-doll dress shuffling between kissing strangers and watching the shadows of her feet. I made eye contact, and she smiled and said: “Mushrooms, darling.”

Just another night at Pappy and Harriet’s.

Published in Reviews

Last weekend’s annual Desert Daze music festival offered music enthusiasts a supersize meal of indy, alt, psych, punk and crazy tunes at the Institute of Mentalphysics, with music replacing meditation, yoga and UFOs.

Three days in Joshua Tree offered an upgrade from the one-day edition at the Sunset Ranch Oasis. The traffic jam in Mecca was replaced with a good traffic flow. Also gone were the traffic challenges that occurred during a recent Childish Gambino gig, held at the Institute of Mentalphysics by another promoter, that stoked mislaid reservations about Desert Daze.

Safety was a priority, as every car was subjected to a detailed search, including the opening of trunks. According to one of the security staffers I spoke to, they did remove an ax and a sword from a car on the first day.

Yes, promoter Phil Pirrone of JJUUJJUU had the logistics down for this increasingly ambitious festival. Desert Daze was spread out over the 400 acres of the center. The Moon Stage, for example, was easy to find—you just looked for the harvest moon that was dead-center over the stage. But getting lost was part of the fun; that is how I found a shrine to bygone technology hidden in a path behind vendors.

Desert Daze also included local artists, including Sand and Suede, which features handmade creations by owner Jenn Starr. Joshua Tree clothing designer Totally Blown uses a shotgun to design one-of-kind pieces. I later ran into co-founder Sarah Harris, and she was not packing a 12-gauge—just some joy from the music.

The Death Valley Girls made another appearance in the desert featuring fast-paced macabre garage rock. I bumped into the queen of Joshua Tree, Jesika Von Rabbit, near the small Buddha temple; she was quickly joined by Brant Bjork and Sean Wheeler, two desert kings of rock, for a quick photo.

The Sonics played favorites like “Louie, Louie” and “The Witch,” rivaling Television as the longest-tenured performers at Desert Daze; the band was founded in 1960.

Toro y Moi came back to the high desert, bringing some psychedelic funk to the Moon Stage during a windy and dusty night. Fellow Pappy’s alum Deerhunter also played on the Moon Stage, wearing a hoodie while commenting: “I want to dedicate this next song to Hanna. … I just pissed on my fucking leg,” offering Dezert Daze’s foremost TMI moment.

Saturday brought the Los Angeles trio L.A. Witch, which has been moving up in popularity over the last few years; I first saw the group perform at a small gig at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs.

Saturday’s lineup included another female fronted band—The Coathangers, from Atlanta, who previously opened for the Black Lips in Pioneertown. The Coathangers are a buzz-worthy band; after 10 years of grueling touring, the group has earned respect in the indie scene.

Cherry Glazerr’s animated midafternoon Saturday performance showed off fuzzy and dreamy songs, comparable to those from the defunct band The Like. Thee Oh Sees also played on Saturday; I was happy to have the safety and security of the photo pit barrier, because the last time I saw the band, at my favorite desert roadhouse, I almost broke my ankle trying to get a shot in a mosh pit. Thee Oh Sees bring fun musical proto punk chaos whenever the group appears.

Indie Danish rockers The Raveonettes played on the Block Stage, playing newer songs like “Sisters” and classics like “Love in a Trashcan.” The Raveonettes are releasing a new single every month this year.

Another high desert alum, The Black Angels, played the entire album Passover, a 2006 release; it was a true treat. I first saw Black Angels vocalist Alex Maas in 2013, playing a soldout set at Pappy and Harriet’s.

Primus headlined on Saturday, and Les Claypool’s six-string bass was magical during “My Name Is Mud.” Drummer Julie Edwards of Deap Vally was in the pit during the beginning of the set with her 10-month old baby, Mira, who was wearing giant ear protectors; the toddler got really excited during heavy drum beats, suggesting that Mira received Momma’s drumming genes.

Claypool got partisan by offering a tongue-and-cheek comment poking fun at Donald Trump’s claim “that he can grab a woman’s vagina,” adding, “I say ‘vagina’ because I’m a gentleman.” I presume Mr. Claypool was unable to borrow Roger Waters’ floating pig that featured anti-Trump comments at Desert Trip.

On Sunday, Warpaint’s Jenny Lee took her dog, Ludo, onstage as she performed songs from her 2015 solo record Right On! I love the way Jenny Lee drops the bass lines; she was very impressive as a solo act, dominating the stage as she marched to her interpretation of true rock. She was one of the highlights of Sunday.

La Luz had an early set on Sunday; the group has been building a fan base by opening for bands like the Entrance Band and playing at the taste-making Echo Park Rising fest. La Luz is the only doo-wop surf band whose fans like to mosh—a true mystery.

Deap Vally was a highlight of Sunday’s afternoon, featuring Julie Edwards, the co-organizer of Desert Daze and the spouse of promoter Phil Pirrone. Deap Vally starred the howling vocals of lead singer Lindsey Troy, and the set featured “Gonnawanna” from September release Femejism.

METZ’s heavy punk sound was mosh-pit worthy, as the noise-rock group plays traditional punk that sparked a small circle pit in front of the otherwise mellow Block Stage.

On Sunday night, I hurried to catch Foxygen at the Block Stage set for a 7:30 p.m. scheduled start; attendees could see the stage crew trying to identify an unknown sound issue that finally resolved for a start time around 8.

Television headlined the Moon Stage. An apology came from Tom Verlaine, as he explained the band was asked to start a half-hour late. Verlaine asked for the spinning lights to be turned off, stating, “We’re going to have seizures if you keep those twirling discs on.” The lighting person complied, making it darker on stage. Fans in the front row sang along to “Prove It,” a detective story-themed tune from the 1977 release Marquee Moon.

I have followed Desert Daze since it began at Dillon’s Roadhouse in North Palm Springs. Little by little, this festival has grown to the point where music fans now have an opportunity to hear a lot of progressive music in a setting that’s not too large. Desert Daze is a place to hear great music—not a place just to be seen. Hopefully, the community embraces this DIY festival that has just one purpose: to rock.

Published in Reviews

Desert Daze returned to Mecca, just east of the storied Empire Polo Club, on Saturday, May 2. Mecca once served as the backdrop for Roger Corman’s film The Wild Angels, which helped inspire the motorcycle counterculture films of the 1960s.

Desert Daze inspires a different counterculture—part hipster, part hippie and totally unique.

If you wanted a Coachella-type ambiance at Desert Daze, you were disappointed. If you expected amazing music in near apocalyptic conditions, you left with a smile on your face.

Desert Daze is the brainchild of Phil Pironne (JJUUJJUU) and Julie Edwards (Deap Vally). Improvements to this year’s festival included elimination of delay in entering Sunset Ranch Oasis, used for the day’s festivities; gone was the traffic jam in the middle of nowhere, replaced by a faster security checkpoint in the parking lot. As I exited the car, I noticed the temperature gauge was at 98. Not bad for an afternoon in Mecca.

Rushing to catch Kim and the Created, I noticed set times were running behind. Kim and the Created is a combination new wave with old school punk vocals. Kim House climbed, hopped, and jumped on almost every inch of the Block Stage.

This festival is a DIY affair made up of a bunch of friends greasing the gears to make it work. As I took refuge in a shade canopy near the entrance, I met an artist known as Auberi Zwickel, who had been on the grounds since Wednesday, creating and painting the shade area in which I was resting. I saw Julie Edwards for a second with walkie-talkie in hand with a look on her face that she was in fixer mode. She had double-duty, since she was also performing with Lindsey Troy, the other half of Deap Vally.

Plague Vendor, a Whittier-based punk band on Epitaph Records, brought an old school feel from a youngster named Brandon Blaine, who posed like a punk peacock as he channeled Sid and Iggy.

Mish Way of White Lung introduced a new touring bassist—Lindsey Troy, of Deap Vally, adding an Ameri-CAN to this Canadian high-energy punk wall of sound.

Chelsea Wolfe brought a cool mind-blowing sound to the Moon Block stage for her short set that received an excellent reaction from the dusty music fans in attendance. Mini Mansions followed up, playing cuts from their brilliant new album, The Great Pretenders.

Failure, another L.A. band, introduced new material from the upcoming album, The Heart is a Monster, including “ Counterfeit Sky.” Greg Edwards of Failure is the brother of Julie Edwards. The interconnections ran deep.

While waiting for the start of Dan Deacon, I bumped into Breanna Wood of Races, who performed at Desert Daze a few years ago. Deacon had one of the most unique sets of the night: Part storytelling with rapping and synth, he started a dance-off challenge that engaged the weary who were waiting for Warpaint.

Warpaint was all rainbows and sunshine, and took time to get the line check just right. Beginning with “Bees,” Emily Kokal told her audience: “You are feeling very attractive to me.”

With the strong attendance for this year’s Desert Daze, I got the feeling that Moon Block Party has found a home for their homegrown concert in Mecca.

See a gallery of photos here.

Published in Reviews

Deap Valley is a powerful rock-based duo that’s stunned audiences with their live performances. Lindsey Troy (vocals, guitar) and Julie Edwards-Pirrone (drums) have been to incredible places—and will be at the Desert Daze festival on Saturday, May 2, at the Sunset Ranch Oasis in Mecca.

The Independent caught up with Julie Edwards-Pirrone while she was DJ’ing at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs. She is the wife of the founder of Desert Daze, Phil Pirrone, aka JJUUJJUU. I asked her what inspired her and Troy to perform as a two-piece.

“I don’t really know the answer to that,” said Edwards-Pirrone. “The only other band I’ve been in was a two-piece, and to me, it seemed very normal. The music Lindsay did before me, she did with her sister. It was a very normal way for us to work, and we just went with it.”

It was important to her and Troy that Deap Vally’s sound be heavy and a bit confrontational, she said.

“Right now, we’re really inspired by Tame Impala, Kurt Vile, and Goat, and I’ve fallen back in love with Funkadelic so hard. That’s kind of where we’re at,” Edwards-Pirrone said. “We were really into the blues thing with the first record, and this new record we’re working on will open up the genre a bit. But there will still be the heavy blues and stoner rock, because that’s so fun to play.”

She elaborated on why it’s so important for Deap Vally to play heavy.

“Lindsay and I are rock ’n’ roll creatures,” she said. “We’re trying to remind people why rock is the ultimate music of defiance, rebellion and id energy.”

She said there are no plans for Deap Vally to add a bassist—although she and Troy might be open to one.

“I’ve never worked with a bass,” Edwards-Pirrone said. “…We’re not used to having a bass, but it might be cool one day if we find the right person. It’s like a marriage: If there’s going to be a bass-player, it’ll be because that person exists in the world. We approach the music from a very organic, jam-based, democratic process rather than a visionary recording-trick kind of way.”

Deap Vally has an ever-growing fan base and has played on big tours and at festivals such as Bonnaroo and Glastonbury. They also opened for Babes in Toyland for the band’s first show in almost two decades, at Pappy and Harriet’s back in February.

“We opened for Muse for a bit in Europe, and the biggest show was something like 14,000 people. I haven’t even been to a show like that since the early ’90s, when I saw Janet Jackson,” Edwards-Pirrone said. “With the environment, the sound check sounded crazy. You just can’t hear anything. But the challenge of going and being energetic and getting as many of those 14,000 people as you can into your world is so great.

“Playing with Babes in Toyland at their first show in 18 years at Pappy’s … I get choked up every time I think about it. It was a dream come true, and the most epic, beautiful and wonderful thing to happen to Deap Vally.”

Deap Vally has been involved in Desert Daze since the beginning, back in 2012.

“It’s like a vision,” she said. “We were like, ‘All right, we’re going to do it again this year. What’s the dream lineup?’ Slowly, you tap away at that dream, and the reality is … sobering. It’s an insane amount of work. You think you’re going to die—and then there are all these people having such an amazing time and having an amazing adventure. They’re feeling a sense of freedom, which is important to us. At a lot of festivals, that sense of freedom isn’t really there. Life is an adventure, and a festival should be an adventure, not a thing where you know what’s going to happen. The beauty of the Sunset Ranch, where we do Desert Daze, (contributes to that).”

This year’s lineup is impressive, featuring Warpaint, Failure (which just reunited) and Minus the Bear, as well as local acts War Drum, Slipping Into Darkness and Fatso Jetson.

Edwards-Pirrone said she’s happy with the diversity on the bill.

“Now that I’m in a girl-band, I’m always keeping my eye out for women who I feel are upholding the tradition of bad-assery, and we have so many on the lineup,” she said. “Every year, I’m always like, ‘Let’s get more women onstage,’ and I’m stoked about that.”

Desert Daze takes place in Saturday, May 2, at the Sunset Oasis Ranch, 69520 Lincoln St., in Mecca. Admission starts at $55. For tickets or more information, visit desertdaze.org.

Published in Previews