CVIndependent

Fri12132019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The Coachella Valley is full of musicians pushing their limits and creating heavy rock soundtracks that would make even Kyuss proud—but it’s always a treat to come across a band creating a completely different desert-influenced sound.

This brings us to the self-described “desert jangle” of Plastic Ruby.

“It’s really the only thing I can use to describe our sound,” said John Marek, the vocalist, guitarist and leader of Plastic Ruby. “If you’ve ever heard of jangle pop, it’s like that, and we also have some desert influences in our music. We associate our psychedelic sound with the desert. Most of our sound is poppy-’60s influenced.”

The music created by Marek and co. is extremely pleasing, with each song from the band’s self-titled EP—as well as the two recent singles, “Beach Day” and “Just the Type”—featuring dance-y and groovy guitar lines backed by dreamy basslines and synth ambiance; Marek’s extremely distinguishable vocal melodies are just the cherry on top. “Bad Conscience Blues” and “Soda” are some of my favorites. Those two new singles are signs of a forthcoming album, which Marek confirms is “already in the works.”

Marek’s talent also stretches beyond music, as he has been producing and editing intricate music videos for some Plastic Ruby songs. The release of “Just the Type” was accompanied by a video transporting the viewer through dreamscapes, fences—and even a Plastic Ruby practice session.

“With that video, I was really inspired by the old White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army’ video,” said Marek. “That was my influence for it, but I wanted it to be sloppier, more like you’re going into a different room versus however they did it. That video took me two or three days, and I always wait until the last minute. We actually filmed the last scene the day before its release. I’ve been making skate montages since middle school, and making videos was honestly my first love before music.”

A trip over to Plastic Ruby’s Facebook page (facebook.com/plasticruby) reveals that Marek also creates hilarious promotional videos for some shows.

“My friends and I are all fans of alternative comedy. We’re big on the Tim and Eric Show,” he said. “It’s what we grew up watching, and it’s definitely found a way into our videos.”

Marek has been creating music for a long time, well before Plastic Ruby’s genesis in 2017; he’s been uploading songs to his YouTube channel since 2012. An upload from six years ago called “John Marek—Back of My Head (Guitar + Drums @ the Same Time)” has more than 1 million views, with numerous awestruck comments on how Marek manages to play the guitar and drums simultaneously.

“To be honest, that video really helped me a lot,” Marek said. “It actually got placed in a commercial for a fiber-optics company in Canada, and one of my other songs, the first I ever made, was featured in an Audi commercial. It really got my foot in the door in terms of getting my music published. People keep telling me to make another one, but I don’t really want to be known for that. I don’t want to box myself into a corner. I’d rather people just appreciate what I do based on the merit of what I do.

“I put a lot of effort and time into how I create songs, rather than being the biggest shredder in the world. I can appreciate technical musicianship stuff, but what I want is the catchiest, coolest-sounding song possible. I just want to make a living off music. I don’t want to be famous or whatever. I just want to make a living off of what I love doing.”

Plastic Ruby will perform at Beats and Brews, starting at 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Saguaro Palm Springs, 1800 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. For tickets or more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/383126549267702. Plastic Ruby is also scheduled to perform at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Concert for Autism Pre-Show Party at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert; admission is a suggested $5 donation. For more information, visit plasticruby.com.

Published in Previews

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 the elder statesmen of EDM music. “Hey, Splash House. How are you doing out there?” he said in his greeting, followed up by a guy directly behind me yelling: “I love you, Pete!” Tong fans were all ears as he melded different decades of music together effortlessly—even impressing old-timers like me.

Justice was up next on Saturday, and the French duo played dance classics, starting with a “Welcome to the Jungle” sample. “Do the Hustle” blended with “YMCA,” which was perfect.

The afterhours festivities returned to the Palm Springs Air Museum. Lee Wells went into the wayback machine and plucked out “Heart of Glass” by Blondie. Wells got plenty of love from the audience members, who gobbled up every beat.

For those of you unfamiliar with Splash House: The promoter has a shuttle system with The Renaissance as the hub; attendees can pick up a shuttle from there to The Saguaro or The Riviera, and vice versa. On Sunday, a typical 105-degree June day, the driver announced as I got on that the air conditioning was out. Eek.

Five minutes and 59 seconds later, I arrived at the Saguaro, to check out the balconies and the party scene (since most of the top-tier acts were playing at the Renaissance). I have a tradition where I try to capture a dive into the pool—which is quite a challenge, since the pool is usually filled with too many people. However, I got lucky and saw a woman diving in—with a perfect 10 for effort, and quite a bit less than that for form. She introduced herself on the shuttle back to The Renaissance. The shuttle is always an interesting place to talk to fans and get tips on who to see. I was told to catch Pluko’s set at Riviera—and he really pleased the fans on Sunday. He is signed to Odesza’s label, and he played on the same stage the group did a few years ago.

Last up on Sunday at The Renaissance was DJ Armand van Helden and Canadian DJ A-Trak. They had their own sets scheduled, but attendees went crazy when they played as Duck Sauce, their collaboration, best known for the hit—which, of course, they performed—“Barbra Streisand.” This led to probably the only sing-along of the weekend.

Splash House keeps getting bigger and better. The August edition can’t come soon enough.

Published in Reviews

They say April showers bring May flowers—but here in the desert, April’s warmer weather brings pool-party season!

We’re in the land of heat and pools, and it can be hard to decide where to take a dip—in part, because poolside affairs in the Coachella Valley usually bring more than just swimming. Depending on where you go, you can enjoy great food, drinks, entertainment and more. Therefore, this month, I’ve decided to share with you my two favorite places to hang out and relax in the valley. (Full disclosure: I have performed, and continue to perform, at these venues.)

So … where do you start? Locals can find plenty of options for poolside fun, but one of your best options is always going to be Arrive in Palm Springs. This resort sits on the edge of downtown Palm Springs and offers a heavy nod to the midcentury-modern style that shaped Palm Springs. Arrive hosts an array of food choices, too; grab a bite at Wexler’s Deli for lunch (they have a poolside menu, too) or take a short walk to Draughtsman for some serious libations. You can also find a coffee shop and an ice cream shop on site. Saturday and Sunday at Arrive bring entertainment in the form of DJs. There’s always plenty of room to sunbathe or sit and soak up the sun. Like games with your pool parties? Enjoy some poolside pingpong and cornhole in between float sessions. The sound varies, depending on what day you go, from Top 40 to house. You can find me there every other Sunday, bringing my original blend of house and disco.

The Saguaro in recent years has become known as one of the biggest pool-party spots in the valley. Not only is The Saguaro one of the regular hosts of the twice-per-summer Splash House festivals; it also books a range of DJ acts throughout the summer. Here, you can enjoy a colorful, vibrant, very Palm Springs experience. Grab a cabana; order some tacos; and enjoy carefully curated sets. Hammocks behind the pool and endless loungers make it so you can relax in multiple ways. I’ve been fortunate to work with The Saguaro and their music programmer, Dominic Saldana, aka SABIO, for the past few years. It’s worth noting that the Saguaro is the host of some of the best Coachella pool parties. One of my favorite things to do for “No-Chella” is hit the Palm Springs pool circuit. You can find world-class entertainment without breaking the bank while skipping the crowds. Given the size of the pool area at The Saguaro, you rarely feel squeezed in.

So … what do we do at night? Good question. I was out in downtown Palm Springs on a recent Monday, looking for drinks and good music, and we found ourselves hopping through several locations. Many closed at 10 p.m. and/or had no entertainment … and things felt a little dead. Now, to be fair, this was on a Monday night, but it was during the middle of season. We did manage to find some fun, enjoying drinks at Bootlegger Tiki and Lulu California Bistro, before finishing the night at the Village Pub, where there was a DJ and karaoke, for those brave enough to try.

So … there it is! I’m always searching for new spots, old spots and the best spots to enjoy our valley—even if they’re off the beaten path. I’m excited to kick off another poolside season, and I look forward to seeing you all out there!

Published in Subatomic

Los Angeles is the epicenter of the entertainment industry, a city where people come to follow their dreams of careers in film, TV, music and more.

With all of that comes plenty of parties and events—some of the best of which are put together by Tom Astley, of L’Affaire Musicale, and Matt Orlove, of Orlove Entertainment.

While they both have their own companies, they plan almost every event together. This kind of collaboration is something you don’t see too often—and it’s refreshing. What brought them together?

“In short, the love and passion we have for music and working with artists,” Astley said. “We met at a time when we had both just moved from New York City and had set up our respective companies. We were both in the process of getting our brands and philosophies out there. We had a similar vision, so it just made sense to partner up. Synchronicity and timing are everything!”

That comradery has helped them expand their reach not just across Southern California (including the Palm Springs area), but also to the East Coast. These aren’t two corporate groups throwing unlimited money behind soulless events; it’s two friends sharing their love for music with the rest of us. It’s rare to see that kind of passion on the business side of music.

Astley described how they choose the right artists for their events. (Full disclosure: They have hired me before.)

“While there is always a component of how a headliner will sell at our shows, we mostly book acts that we enjoy and believe in as artists,” Astley said. “As for openers, we love to dig deep into the local culture and scene of the genre we’re booking. The openers at our shows are usually the ones running the local scene.”

Astley and Orlove work with acts such as The Knocks, Moon Boots, Pete Tong and disco legend Giorgio Moroder. In fact, Astley and Orlove are hosting Giorgio’s second annual “live disco” experience on Saturday, April 27, at the Globe Theatre in Los Angeles. This show will include New York City’s Holy Ghost! (one of my personal favorites), French disco house icon Cerrone and a special performance from Dita Von Teese. It’s events like these that set them apart from other L.A. nightlife producers.

Astley and Orlove also know how to pick the perfect venue. We aren’t talking about run-down, tired nightclubs on the strip. From the Saguaro pool here in Palm Springs, to Skybar at the Mondrian in L.A. and the Delano Beach Club in Miami, the venues are almost as cool as the artists playing. This shows not only their passion for the music, but also for providing their guests with a quality experience all around.

“Sound, lighting and location all play a big part, but what really takes it over the edge is the staff—bartenders, security, door people, etc.,” Orlove said when asked what makes a venue great. “The customer experience starts here. At all of our events, we strive to create a friendly atmosphere, so when a venue is on the same page, it’s ideal.”

Orlove Entertainment and L’Affaire Musicale have big plans. “We’re really focusing on building the brands we have and expanding them into new markets nationwide,” Astley said, “and also working on launching a series of Wicked Paradise Beach Festivals in 2020.”

When asked what their favorite show to date was, Orlove said it had to be their first show with Giorgio. You can find tickets for the next one at bit.ly/Giorgios2019.

Published in Subatomic

The second of this summer’s two Splash House parties landed Aug. 10 at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

By now, Splash House is running like a fine vintage watch: Shuttles running from the three main pool-party venues—the Renaissance, the Riviera and the Saguaro—delivered Splashers to the pre-party at the Air Museum on Gene Autry Trail. I’m sure most of the young fans understood the deep connection Autry had to music, baseball and Palm Springs.

I am kidding: These EDM fans were here to party and listen to the best electronic music, in an effort to warm up for the pool parties that followed the next two days.

The Black Madonna headlined the pre-party. I had no idea who she was, which allowed me to listen with no biases or preconceived notions. It turns out she is a native of Kentucky who began her career as many do, by selling mix tapes in warehouses and—in her case—farm fields that became underground music venues. She magically melds different genres of music into tracks that fit well together, helping her stand out in the bro-dominated EDM scene. Her original mix of “He Is the Voice I Hear” was absolutely enchanting.

British DJ Hannah Wants brought her house beats to the Saguaro on a very hot Saturday afternoon. The Saguaro is the über-party place of Splash House; the proximity of the room’s balconies to the elevated DJ stage makes it a faultless spot if attendees do not want to leave their rooms.

Louis the Child was excited to be headlining the Renaissance on Saturday night. Robby Hauldren asked the crowd if they wanted a standard set, or a one-of-a-kind set. The crowd was mum on the subject, so the duo went with an incredible new set. “It’s Strange” was a pleasing tune. Aware of the long, hot day, Hauldren inquired as to the mood of the audience: “Are you still all right out there? Are you feeling the love? Are you feeling amazing?” This garnered a cheer from the sun-baked crowd.

Hauldren announced with excitement: “This is our first time headlining a festival.” He then announced the last song, a recorded track, “Better Not” (featuring Wafia), which played as they waved to fans.

One of the highlights of the Splash House after-hours party, once again held at the Air Museum, was Mija—a post-modern harlequin-like tech-house dream. Her “Notice Me”—with the words “I want you so badly in this weather, If only we could be together”—was joyful.

I was excited to see DJ Alex Harrington, whom I first met several years ago at Splash House when Gorgon City played in front of a few hundred fans at the now-defunct Hard Rock Hotel. Alex got the nod to open on the same stage where Gorgon City was the headliner last Sunday at the Renaissance. Harrington, a local and a former Independent contributor, has a new record coming out, Stargazer, and this was a great opportunity to show case his talent to a noon crowd who got to listen to his original material.

Splash House is like any music festival, in the sense that one can find gems while wandering around early in the day—like Silva, a DJ/producer playing a 1 p.m. set at the Riviera.

On a shuttle ride back the Saguaro, I met Kaley from Los Angeles, and Tina from Portland. Both ladies had floaties that were partially inflated. As Kaley was inflating her floatie, she said the air valve tasted like salad—and that she hates salad. She later explained that the night before, after the Louis the Child set, they’d acquired the floaties after they were abandoned by their previous owners; presumably, the person who previously inflated the floatie liked salads. Later that day, they waved happily when they spotted me at the Riviera. The best thing about Splash House is that everyone is in good spirits; it is easily the most laid-back music scene I cover all year.

Early Sunday evening, Grammy-nominated Camelphat packed the Renaissance during their nearly 90-minute set, keeping the bass strong, which re-energized the dancers.

Gorgon City returned to Splash House to close out the night. Fans adored new track “Love Me.” I am sure that while standing on the massive stage, they reflected upon the first time they played this event—in a room that was smaller than that stage.

As Splash House concluded for another year, I wondered: Is this a music festival, or just a well-planned pool party? Frankly, I don’t think it matters, because attendees are getting exactly what they paid for—a fun weekend under the sun with thousands of like-minded fun-seekers.

Published in Reviews

A sold-out Splash House officially got the summer season started in Palm Springs June 8-10. The celebration started at the Palm Springs Air Museum on a pleasant if windy summer night, before the daytime fun began at The Renaissance, The Riviera and The Saguaro.

I’ve been coming to Splash House for a few years now, so I fully understand how this hip counterpart to Coachella is an excellent excuse to party—and show off the results of your CrossFit training. Cole Porter said it best: “And that’s why birds do it, bees do it—even educated fleas do it; let’s do it.” And so some of the best DJs around created the soundtrack as the young and the young at heart looked for love—or at least a dance partner for the night.

The VIP section at the Palm Springs Air Museum allowed attendees to spread their figurative wings and relax on comfortable couches—and even offered access to the side of the stage, allowing attendees to be next to the talent, yet away from the crowded masses.

Touch Sensitive was the standout in the early evening at the museum, thanks in part to the disco song about positive affirmation, “Veronica”: “Hey baby, am I the only one that makes you lose your mind? Yes baby, hey baby, am I the one you want to fuck all the time? Yes baby.”

On Saturday afternoon at the Riviera, SMLE was a blast, spinning the original track “With Me” featuring Mary Ellen and Hyper Turner: “I’m waiting for my phone to ring; I’m wondering where you could be, and I’m waiting for that knock on my door, feeling restless; I can’t take any more.” The Riviera pool was crammed with so much splashing I was surprised there was any water left after the SMLE set.

The Dusky DJ set highlighted an awesome fun mashup featuring “Oh Yeah” by the Swiss band Yellow, highlighted on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off—which came out decades before most of the audience was born.

The Grammy-nominated Duke Dumont closed out the Renaissance on Saturday, pleasing sunbathers and dancers loving the cool ambiance of “Ocean Drive”: “Don’t say a word while we danced with the devil.”

Security was over-the-top Sunday for attendees trying to get into the Riviera. People wearing just bikinis and banana hammocks were being patted down in search of contraband … which was odd. However, the line was worth it to see Chet Porter, who greeted the crowd: “Hello, Splash House; my name is Chet Porter. Are you having a good time?” Fans grooved to “Sad Machine X I love Kayne Mashup,” a fantastic improvement to the self-love tune, “I Love Kanye” by Kayne West.

After three days in the heat, another enjoyable Splash House was in the can. I’ll see you in August for Splash House Part II.

Published in Reviews

Since 2013, local DJ Alex Harrington has been beating the pavement, playing countless local poolside and club gigs.

He’s also been branching out—regionally, nationally and internationally, collaborating with different artists through various DJ internet communities, and building up his Spotify page with listeners from around the world.

On July 25, Harrington will release his new album, Stargazer. During a recent interview in Rancho Mirage, Harrington discussed how the album came about.

“Ever since July of last year, I’ve been releasing singles pretty steadily,” Harrington said. “Over the past few months, I started writing and stockpiling tracks, not sure what I wanted to do with them. I sat down and said, ‘I’ve put out about six or seven tracks and have another six or seven that are unreleased.’ I wanted to do an album for a long time, and a friend of mine told me that now would be a good time to do it, so I put it together. It’s all come together at the same time as the poolside gigs. Playing the poolside gigs gave me the inspiration to write the tracks and the album.”

Harrington has ventured into varying styles of DJing, from nu-disco to tropical house, and he said playing poolside gigs has always given him inspiration.

“I think with club gigs, you have a certain amount of freedom as far as the vibe goes, but for the most part, you have people who are there to ‘turn up.’ They have drinks, and they get excited. It’s the nightlife,” Harrington said. “With poolside gigs, you can do that, but you can take it in a different direction, and what I really like is that you can affect the crowd. The last set I played poolside was three hours long. I started off upbeat and got the crowd excited, and I dropped it down a little bit to chill them out, and brought it back up at the end. That’s something you can’t necessarily do in a club, because you’re building and building and building, and you hit that crescendo at the end of the night; then everyone gets excited, and the club empties out. Poolside gigs offer more freedom to work with the crowd and more freedom as far as your direction in music goes.”

His DJing has frequently taken him into Los Angeles, most notably at Bardot.

“That was a lot of fun. I was fortunate to have played there a few times as part of an event called School Night! that’s thrown by Chris Douridas from KCRW,” he said. “It’s a fantastic venue. It’s Victorian-themed, and it has two different rooms. I would be in one room DJjing, and (there would be) a band in another room. We’d switch off and go back and forth. That’s something that you don’t get anywhere. It’s right on the Sunset Strip, and I’d walk out on the balcony and see the Capitol Records building.”

Harrington said there’s a definite difference between Palm Springs and Los Angeles crowds.

“I try to bring the same vibe wherever I go,” he said. “It’s the same mixture of my energy and the energy of the town I’m in. Los Angeles is a little faster, and people are a little more with it, so when I go out there, I’m more free to play music from across the board. Out here, I’ll stick more with familiar stuff—but it depends. Los Angeles has a more-trendy crowd that’s looking for new music and to hear stuff they haven’t really heard before, whereas out here, they like the familiar a little more. The bachelorette parties out here are great, but they want to hear Beyonce and Rihanna songs. In Los Angeles, you have so many clubs. … With Bardot, within a stone’s throw, you have so many other clubs. You have to bring something different, because there’s so much great music. Out here, we’re still developing.” 

These days, being an independent DJ/musician is easier than ever … but in other ways, it’s also tougher than ever.

“I think that the tools that artists have to succeed these days—there are a lot more than (artists) used to have,” Harrington said. “But with greater means of access in this business comes a flood of more people doing it. On things like YouTube, 1,000 hits used to be a lot; now it’s 10,000 is a lot. The same with Spotify: Now it’s 10,000, then 100,000 and then 1 million. I think you have to be savvy about it. It’s a lot easier if you know your sound and find the right tools for it.

“I will say this: You have to invest these days. You just can’t put something out there and say, ‘Enjoy it for what it is.’ Even if it’s $100 or $200, playlist services are something you can pitch your music to and say, ‘Hey, I have $100; if you guys like this song, can you help me get some exposure?’”

On Sunday, June 17, plus other dates throughout the summer, you can catch Harrington at the Saguaro.

“The Saguaro has done a fantastic job over the past couple of years curating music that’s on the forefront—music they bring in from all over,” he said. “If you go to a Saguaro pool party, whether you’re there to relax, hang out, grab a day bed or float on an inflatable ice-cream cone, there’s something for everybody.”

For more information, visit www.alexharrington.co.

The three-day party that it is Splash House returned for the second and final time this summer, running Aug. 11-13.

The Friday night pre-party, at the Palm Springs Air Museum, featured the best performances of the entire weekend, in my book—but I must admit I’m biased toward performers who use instruments.

Klatch, hailing from the West Coast dance scene, kicked things off on Friday with a traditional DJ set, igniting the early evening crowd. Edlerbrook took things in a different direction with smoldering vocals merging with ambient digitized electronic sampling. The track “Difficult to Love” is an agreeable tune about how we see early experiences optimistically, compared to the actual eventual reality of the experience: “I’m difficult to love at the best of times; oh, at the best of times, I’m high again (high, high, high); and maybe that was mistake (my mistake, my mistake, uhm); you said I waste time, and I never get why you’re in love with me.”

Elderbrook wowed fans with the song “How Many Times,” ending with the tune and saying, “Peace,” before walking off the stage. After his performance, a happy devotee grabbed me by the shoulder and proclaimed, “That’s Elderbrook. He is going to be big; write it down.”

I just want to say I completely fell in love with Sofi Tukker, a New York-based duo featuring Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern. The cheerful Halpern mentioned, “The last time we were out here was for Coachella.” Sofi Tukker’s music was very danceable, with electronic beats and strong guitar riffs from Hawley-Weld, and lots running around the stage. The song “Greed” took on POTUS directly with full electronic goodness: “Your ego, your crashing, your greed, keeping you up all night.”

Bob Moses ended the night with a fantastic song, “Like It or Not,” with some words of wisdom: “It’s gotta mean something; it’s gotta mean something to you; it’s gotta keep pushing; you gotta keep pushing through.”

The Saguaro, the Riviera, and the Renaissance accommodated crowds once again on Saturday and Sunday. I started Saturday off at the Saguaro, the most intimate of the three venues, where the balconies were covered up more than the attendees. As I walked in, a guy stopped me, seeing my camera gear, and had his friends clear a path in front of the DJ so he could do a summersault … just because. The atmosphere at the Saguaro is all about being there and having fun; most of the crowd was away from the DJ booth, instead enjoying the pool and/or looking for a future mate.

Over at the Riviera on Saturday, the pool was packed and overflowing; there always seem to be pools of water on the sides, caused by the crowded conditions. Manila Killa spun pure joy, enthralling listeners with indie-pop electronica.

On Saturday, Gigamesh, aka Matthew Thomas Masurka, performed on the Renaissance stage. His set was slated to be an hour long, but his time onstage was cut short due to his equipment heating up; the west-facing stage unfortunately lacked protection from the heat.

Splash House ran like a Swiss watch when it came to set times, but security was very strict, even checking wallets for contraband. It was hot as heck, which may have explained the more-subdued crowd on the between-venue shuttles, as compared to the June Splash House: I did not witness any dancing or singing this time around.

Hoping for another great time at the Air Museum, I headed back on Saturday night for former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy’s DJ set, which was competent but lacked the punch of the performances the night before. Only the diehards could dance in the sweltering heat that night, and the VIP lounge was packed with seated guests observing instead of engaging in the music.

On Sunday at the Renaissance, Sango sampled some amazing tracks, including Young Thug’s rap verse which doubles as sage advice from a gunslinger: “Don’t try to take it; I got guns; I’m talkin’ guns, not pellets.” Sango kept the thumping loud, with plenty of hooks that excited the evening admirers.

Closing out Splash House at the Renaissance was Kaytranada. Unfortunately, the scorching set by Sango may have heated things up too much, because technical difficulties hampered the beginning of his show. He took the problems with a smile: “My shit is not set up yet. I am going to play whatever! ... This is a god damn disaster,” he said as a large skipping sound flowed through the massive speakers. Later, the sampling of Suede’s “NxWorries” was the perfect way for him to express frustration for this minor glitch in his headlining gig: “If I call you a bitch, it’s ’cause you’re my bitch, and as long as no one else call you a bitch, then there won’t be no problems. Now, If I call you a trick, it’s ’cause you paid the rent.” We can only speculate whether this track was dropped to express frustration with the production staff. At the end, Kaytranada had everyone dancing, with smiles on the faces of the die-hard partygoers.

Splash House once again was a joyful event. Everyone chills out and gets along, no matter their background, ethnicity or sexual orientation. If we could infuse the inclusiveness of this event into the rest of the country, we would all be better for it.

Published in Reviews

Many of the Coachella Valley’s larger art galleries tend to hibernate during the summer heat. The (relative) exodus of tourists provides time for them to prepare new exhibitions for the fall.

But the need to experience art doesn’t go on vacation—and this time of year provides art-lovers with a great opportunity to shift focus and find art in public settings and smaller venues that promote local talent.

In Palm Springs, the “Lucy Ricardo” sculpture by Emmanuil Snitkovsky sits on a bench near the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at 211 S. Palm Canyon Drive, while the “Rainmaker” sculpture by David Morris inspires in Frances Stevens Park at 500 N. Palm Canyon Drive. There are also impressive works called “Monsieur Pompadour” and “Mademoiselle Coco” by Karen and Tony Barone greeting people at the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, 4575 E. Mesquite Ave.

In Palm Desert, you can stroll through four acres of the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert (72567 Highway 111), while the Rancho Mirage Public Library often features exhibitions by local artists and photographers. The “Coachella Walls” mural resides on the side of a downtown building in Coachella and is accompanied by other murals on buildings opposite Dateland Park.

La Quinta has numerous works of art surrounding the Civic Center Campus. In Indio, you can find the “History of Water in the Coachella Valley,” a massive painting by Don Gray, on the south wall of the Indio Performing Arts Center, 45175 Fargo St. Each of these cities has maps that will guide you to the various works of art throughout their communities on their websites.

You can pop in and find original art in various hotel lobbies, like the knotted macramé rope curtain, woven from 1.5 miles of cotton rope by Michael Schmidt, at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs. “A Day in the Life at Saguaro,” by local artist Sarah Scheideman, features dioramas of Barbie dolls at The Saguaro.

Back in Palm Springs, retail favorite Just Fabulous, at 515 N. Palm Canyon Drive, has works by numerous artists displayed on the walls. Smaller galleries like Gallery500, located inside The Five Hundred building, 500 S. Palm Canyon Drive, provide a showcase for emerging artists like Christopher Williams.

“I got into Gallery500 through the Desert AIDS Project. They have a program that helps to find venues and create opportunities,” Williams said. “Responses to my art have been good—a lot of positive feedback. Because of showing at Gallery500, I feel more positive about my work, and I even sold a couple of pieces there.”

The point: Art is everywhere in the Coachella Valley, and it often doesn’t require an admission ticket.

Not all of the big galleries and museums close their doors during the summer. The Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission every Thursday throughout the summer from noon to 8 p.m. The museum’s Annenberg Theater will show a free film, Paris, Texas, at 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 17. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Published in Visual Arts

The three-day party known as Splash House returned to Palm Springs last weekend for the first of two stints this summer, opening Friday night with a celebration at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

“Yo, Splash House, right now, this is LondonBridge,” said one of the opening-night DJs. “You are all going to kiss someone you’ve never kissed before,” he predicted as he laid down the beats that got the early birds dancing.

Some in attendance partied a little too much, too early, as I ran into some first-year osteopathic medical-school students who created a technicolor yawn near the picnic area that needed to be mopped up. However, not all in attendance were bound to be doctors, as I overheard a bleached-blond surfer dude make a profound statement: “I think that’s an airport.” His companion, a human version of a Barbie doll, replied: “Yeah I think it is.”

Malaa, a rumored Frenchman, who loves heavy bass lines, drew the crowd close; perhaps attendees were trying to peek under the mask. Malaa was a delight when the track “When a Fire Starts to Burn” pounded through the massive speakers—a great start to the first night of Splash House.

For the uninitiated: Splash House is a pool party hosted at three hotels, this time The Saguaro, the Riviera, and the Renaissance, all in Palm Springs. On Saturday, I started things off at the Saguaro with a lot of people showing their body confidence. The layout at the Saguaro allows all balcony guests to have a great view of the happenings below. Kudos to the Holy Ship! Flag-draped balcony—that rocked! Josh Vela, known as MSCLS, had an early slot on Saturday, and he brought a fun underground club set, pumping the crowd up with a question: “Splash House, how are you feeling?” which got a happy cheer back from the fans.

Splash House is a well-run event—including strict ID checks at every venue, and a timely shuttle that transports attendees between each hotel while providing free bottled water to keep people hydrated. The bus drivers are very tolerant of enthusiastic behavior; a young man on one of my shuttle trips scaled the ceiling of the bus, providing bonus entertainment as I was on my way to the Riviera to see Brasstracks, the Brooklyn-based duo that pumps blissful horns mixed with electronic goodness. I have a soft spot for actual instruments, and Brasstracks blew me away the new track “Good Love,” off the EP of the same name.

Thomas Jack was back at Splash House after headlining in 2015, bringing tropical and dark house music to the Renaissance on Saturday; it moved the happy and friendly attendees into a blissful place.

The party must go on, so I headed to the Air Museum on Saturday night on a very cool and windy evening to watch the nonstop party. However, I cut things short in order to pace myself for Sunday—which turned out to be my highlight of the festival, at the Renaissance.

Nora En Pure, a former model, combined tribal thumping with piano melodies, crafting a sensual feel. She concentrated on the turntables in front of her, at one point sampling Tears for Fears’ “Shout.” I highly recommend you listen to her new EP, Conquer Yosemite.

Sam Feldt is best known for his rendering of the party tune “Show Me Love,” and the Dutchman brought lots of effervescent tracks to a large audience. His set included a brass section, which brought a bonus layer of complexity.

Bonobo, who performed at Coachella this year, closed out Splash House with a DJ set. His great music was the catalyst for the celebratory and, at times, hedonic happenings that surrounded me as fans were losing their minds.

The laid-back vibe of Splash House is unique to the desert; gone are the attitudes of music fans behind a velvet rope in L.A., giving Splash House an edge for fun-seekers who skip fake tans in favor of some real desert sun.

Published in Reviews

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