CVIndependent

Thu10192017

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Guillermo Prieto

“Lucky” Campout 13, the annual resettlement of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven fans, came to Pappy and Harriet’s for three days and nights over Labor Day weekend.

A new fan who came to the Campout for the first time summed up the level of Crumb love: “Man, I am a Cracker fan, but nothing like these fans. This is incredible.” I see the Campout as an annual family reunion—full of traditions and a family you actually want to see.

Thursday night customarily features “acoustic” sets by Johnny Hickman and David Lowery, but it is really the first night of the family get-together, where fans first get to catch up. Claire Wilcox, a Crumb super fan, greeted me with silver beads she was handing out in celebration of Cracker’s silver anniversary.

Jonathan Segel started things off on Thursday. Segel mentioned: “There is a guy who is playing later. He lent me his guitar. What is his name?” He then gestured at the guitar all Crumb fans know belongs to David Lowery.

Segel is the violinist for Camper Van Beethoven, and his backing band, 20 Minute Loop, opened by playing tracks from the band’s new record, while Segel played violin in support. Segel then introduced fervent Camper fans to new solo material.

David Lowery walked onto the stage and declared: “Welcome to Lucky Campout 13. We will be playing some songs we will not play out there,” pointing to the outdoor stage. His solo show included “Let’s Go for a Ride” from Kerosene Hat; the gold record for that album, well-worn from age, is nailed to the Pappy and Harriet’s Wall of Fame, a few feet away.

The set also included “Let’s All Be Someone Else,” which began a chorus of sing-alongs that lasted the rest of the show. Lowery later mentioned, “I had my phone on shuffle, and this song came up,” as he began singing “Bad Vibes Everybody” which sparked another cheer. Then came the very wonderfully sappy lyrics of “Something You Ain’t Got”: “Well the first dance cost me a quarter and the second dance cost me my heart. … Like a circle it ends where it starts, and it goes something like this, always a swing and a miss.” Lowery ended his solo set with the rebellious “Torches and Pitchforks.”

Johnny Hickman then entered stage right and saluted his predecessor to the stage: “The mayor of Campout, David Lowery.”

Lowery may be the mayor, but Johnny Hickman is the suave marshal, always surrounded by a posse of his female fans. Hickman set low expectations with his devotees: “I have a couple of new songs that I am hesitant to play, because they will end up in a crappy You Tube video.” Without a set list, I could not identify some of the new songs, but the fans were pleased.

Toward the end of his set, Hickman asked for direction on how many more songs he could play; the pause resulted in some requests from the crowd. Arie Haze, to the left of me, yelled out: “Little Tom,” and Johnny obliged the request, before asking for help with a new song, “Poor Life Choices”: When he pointed to the audience, they needed to shout out “Poor Life Choices!”

A few signals got crossed: Johnny announced, “It’s time to welcome back the mayor of Campout,” but David Lowery was not there quite yet. Hickman, with tongue firmly placed in cheek, noted: “This is the beauty of Thursday night; we don’t give a shit.” So Hickman strapped on his acoustic guitar to play a few more songs.

Closing out the first night, the Cracker duo was in great form, playing cuts normally not heard during a normal Cracker show.

Campout tradition dictates that special appearances are made at a nearby location. This time, Douglas Avery, a hardcore fan, rented a “shack” a few yards away from Pappy’s—the third year he had done it. There, a small stage illuminated by a lamp and run with a primitive mixing board greeted Thayer Sarrano (who performs with Cracker), who played an acoustic set followed by Johnny Hickman, playing solo under the desert stars—as the nearby desert sparkled by way of lightning. It was magical moment and a great example why Hickman is so loved.

On Friday, the outdoor stage brought the always-wonderful jam session fronted by Jonathan Segel, with Camper bandmate Victor Krummenacher in support.

David Lowery came out personally to introduce Coachella Valley’s Tribesmen, who followed these music veterans without a hitch, playing a interpretation of instrumental rock that delighted hardcore music fans.

Once again, Camper Van Beethoven headlined on Friday. Did Camper forgo the dress theme, or did I miss a subtle reference to the theme of for the night, “All Her Favorite Fruit,” a song about a civil servant yearning for another man’s wife: “She serves him mashed potatoes; she serves him peppered steak with corn.” Campout attendee Molly Thrash depicted the theme beautifully and explained the meaning of the melody with a tray full of vittles outlined in the song. David Lowery sang popular tunes, including “Eye of Fatima (Part 1),” “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” “Pictures of Matchstick Men” and “White Riot.”

Prior to the start of the show, fan Jenny Wariner asked to borrow a pen, because she wanted to write “S.P. 37957” on a Wendy’s Hamburgers white paper bag in hopes that the medley would be played live. Jenny drove from Utah with her husband, and the song came on via shuffle during the long drive. She said she realized that she had never heard the song live, and she did not have time to go to the store to get “proper supplies” for a sign. As fate would have it, this CVB uber-fan got to hear the song.

After the CVB show, Thelma and the Sleaze tore things up on the indoor stage.

One always meets lots of different people at the Campout, including Rosario Romero, a Campout regular who always dances by herself stage right, near the large speakers. Over the years, she has mentioned that her son Indio Romero is a performer, even playing at the House of Blues in San Diego—so I was pleased to find out that Indio Romero was going to be able to play at the Campout on Saturday, on the indoor stage, the same stage that has the sweat and tears of such bands as Babes in Toyland, the Savages and Sir Paul McCartney. The indoor stage was packed, which would be expected since a member of the “family” was playing. Romero killed it, explaining that the song “Headlights” got him the gig.

Saturday headliner Cracker actually complied with the night’s “movie stars” dress code, as the entire band dressed as the cast of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. David Lowery, of course, played the part of Steve Zissou. Cracker gratified with all the hits, including “Eurotrash Girl,” ‘“Teenage Angst,” “The World Is Mine” and “Low.”

On a personal note, I would like to mention one last family tradition. Bradford Jones takes the band photo every night, with fans in the background. However, this year, Jones could not make it, because his father passed away during the Campout weekend. Arie Haze was deputized to fill Bradford Jones’ big shoes, and Arie—a very serious math teacher by day—drafted me to take the backup shot. Bradford has set the bar high as a professional photographer, and Arie wanted to make him proud. I hope he approves.

Another Campout is in the can, as they say. With such a rich catalog of songs to pull from, Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker always connect. The only thing that changes every year is that the family gets bigger and stronger, making the patch of desert called Pappy and Harriet’s feel a little more enchanted.

The torchbearer of chillwave, Neon Indian, aka Alan Palomo, came to Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, Aug. 17.

For those not in the know, chillwave is a subgenre of indie filled with retro pop sounds and low tempos. As a fan told me after the show, the bass sound is right out of 1970s porn—which I guess is a micro-retro genre in itself.

Palomo packed Pappy’s with a young crowd—a more diverse group than one would normally see in Pioneertown: Cool Latino urban kids from the OC and L.A. filled the audience.

Immediately apparent was Alan Palomo’s charm. If I properly interpreted the gazes coming from some in the front row, they varied from “Marry me, please!” to “(Censored) me please, right now!” His confidence was outshined only by his smooth sashaying onstage, complemented by the incredible musicians backing him. 

The show started a little after 10 p.m. “Well, this is intimate; any way of killing the front lights?” Palomo asked. The stage turned purple—making things, unfortunately for me, almost impossible to photograph.

A few drum strokes into the set, a wedge near the drummer fell to the ground—one of a series of little mishaps during the performance. Another: A few songs into the incredible show, the bass player cut his finger.

“At least the bass is red,” the lead singer noted.

As Big Dave the bouncer—an excellent bass player himself—helped tend to the bassist’s wounds, Palomo declared: “Now that I am warmed up, we can dance!”

The set list included “The Glitzy Hive,” “Dear Skorpio Magazine” and “Annie,” and Neon Indian performed with furious passion. Palomo pumped up the crowd by saying, “Esta es para los Mexicanos que estan aqui” (“This is for the Mexicans who are here”), as he dedicated “61 Cygni Ave.” 

With a “Thank you so much,” Palomo signaled that the end was near … as another piece of equipment fell.

After leaving for a slight moment, Neon Indian returned to the stage. “We gotta make that shit count!” he said as he ended the show with a precious cover of Prince’s “Pop Life.”

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.

About three weeks ago, I ran into Stiles, the always-cheerful manager at a Arkansas-based big-box store who sports some of the best tattoos in the High Desert. He’s one of my music compasses, always guiding me to great music, and he reminded me of the Black Lips show at Pappy and Harriet’s on June 24. I decided to go, trusting that Stiles would be standing next to me—because at the last Black Lips show I attended, I almost suffered a tib-fib (tibia fibula) fracture.

The Black Lips were in Pioneertown promoting the band’s eighth studio album, Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art?—but the lineup ran deep, with Starcrawler as the first of two openers.

From stage right, Starcrawler guitarist Henri Cash entered with guitar in hand, letting a riff echo through the early crowd, followed by Arrow de Wilde, wearing a hospital gown, acting like an escapee from sanatorium—imagine a female Iggy Pop.

I was captivated by Starcrawlers’ performance. I was flanked by Joaquin the butcher (literally, he is a butcher), who is a great guy to have in the pit. Stiles was standing to the right of me, in a Ryan Adams shirt, along with his daughter, who happened to be celebrating her birthday and was wearing the mandatory Misfits shirt that young teens at a certain age must own.

De Wilde was true to her name—she was a woman possessed, someone who would give Lon Chaney a run for his money when it came to facial expressions that varied from fright to derangement; at one point, she smeared fake blood on the birthday girl. Starcrawler ended the show with de Wilde running into the audience—never again to be seen, as she left toward the back of the bar.

Timmy’s Organism took the warm-up spot. Timmy polled the crowd for Detroit natives; when a few hands were raised, he said: “We’re Timmy’s Organism from Detroit!” Timmy, aka Tim Lampinen, donned a fuzzy and perhaps-too-warm-for-the-High-Desert outfit.

The muscular, high-energy band pounded hard rock. Toward the end of the set, Timmy shared: “I use to eat garbage; now I eat steak,” dedicating these words to the fans from the Motor City.

The Black Lips walked onstage at a little after 11 p.m. They were at Pappy and Harriet’s three years ago, and the Black Lips have a legendary reputation for being kicked out of venues, so Pappy’s staffed up with security to control the devil dogs, hippies and punkers who were in attendance.

The band sparked anarchy on the dance floor with the words, “We’re down the super highway all alone a shopping bag full of broken bones, sick and tired of hearing telephones,” from the song the “Sea of Blasphemy.” Stiles did his best to stay standing as a avalanche of humans rushed the stage. Time was not on my side as I tried my best to stay upright as well.

“Boys in the Wood,” off of Underneath the Rainbow, calmed the crowd, but by then, the lens hood had been ripped off my camera and partially crushed under the stopping of the crowd—a sure sign from above to bail from the front of the stage, as I heard I these words to the song: “Them boys are wild back in the woods, they got a child who’s misunderstood. When the boys start to drinking, you know it ain’t no good.”

Fans were treated to several new songs off the latest album, including “Rebel Intuition” and “Crystal Night,” the latter a sad love song involving a sweetheart gone missing during the Nazi era: “Do you remember first time I saw you? I look into your eyes and thought that you would be my sugar, not in this life. We never say goodbye, Now you’re sent to die on crystal night. So while I’m living on this planet, if don’t see you, I just wait until the day that could meet in heaven up in the sky, and then we will never cry or have to say goodbye. No more crystal night.” The song is a true pot of gold for the Black Lips—and it led to another memorable moment at Pappy and Harriet’s.

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.

Dear Mexican: Not too long ago, you answered a question about the anti-Mexican slur “greaser,” and then I read the info you provided for “illegal” and the N-word.

I was wondering if you could break down for us “beaner,” “wetback” and “spic,” too. What are their definitions historically? Who “invented” them, and what are their connections to certain regions?

Etymologically Curious

Dear Gabacho: White supremacy invented these Americanisms, silly!

“Wetback” came from the days when Americans thought Mexicans only came to el Norte by swimming across the Rio Grande—and the earliest known reference is in a 1920 New York Times article.

“Spic” isn’t really about Mexicans, per se; the Oxford English Dictionary attributes it to Americans and Brits ridiculing how Panamanians working in the construction of the Canal pronounced “speak.”

As for “beaner”: The earliest known printed reference is in a July 9, 1965, column in the Detroit Free Press, in which an Orange County surfer told a reporter that “not much good can be said about ‘beaners’ (Mexicans).” But the slur is descended from previous terms like “bean bandit” and “bean-eater,” which go back to the days of the cowboys. The common thread, of course, is the Mexican love for frijoles, and the American anger that they can’t properly digest refrieds without ripping a bunch of pedos.

Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans leave their cars in the middle of the street with their hazard lights on while they pick up their friends/kids/drugs? My friends and I deemed this “Mexican Hazard Light Syndrome”—MHLS, for short.

Those blinking lights are supposed to be used when a car is broken down and a person is in distress, not when someone is too lazy to park and walk. It’s annoying enough when they do it on a two-way street and turn the road into an obstacle course—but when they do it on a one-way street, it’s unforgivably inconsiderate and stupid.

My (Mexican) friend hit one of these cars once and decided it was the MHLS-sufferer’s fault, so he just left the scene without even leaving a “sorry, you idiot” note. I don’t endorse this kind of hit-and-run behavior, but I’m telling that little anecdote so that the dumbasses who leave their cars in the middle of the street aren’t too shocked when they find their ’83 Buick Skylarks in pieces.

Cross At Lazy Mexicans

Dear CALM: Patience is no Mexican virtue. We smuggle ourselves into this country again and again—you think we’re going to wait until a spot on the street opens up? Nah, we’d rather annoy pendejos like you and your pal—and it worked!

Dear Mexican: I was born and raised in Los Angeles. My parents were born in El Salvador, which makes me a Salvadoran American—NOT a pinche mexicanos. Don’t get me wrong: I like you guys, and my heina is Mexican. My problem is with the whiter breed. Maybe it’s that they’re lazy, but they tend to classify all us brown folk as Mexican, when, in fact, we’ve got a nice, assorted pack on display. Salvadorans have our own food (pupusas, not tacos), our own language (decimos “vos,” not “tu”), and we’re obviously shorter. Please tell all the gabachos to think before they classify.

Guanaco Guillermo

Dear Pocho: No argument from me here, other than Salvadoran horchata is superior to Mexican and MS 13 (censored by the Mexican’s publishers lest his head become a soccer ball).

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

As I waited for Le Butcherettes to take the stage at Pappy and Harriet’s, I had a flashback to the 2014 show at the Observatory where I first laid eyes and ears on Le Butcherettes.

Le Butcherettes are on the road with At the Drive-In; this was a side gig in between supporting dates.

Teri Gender Bender, aka Teresa Suarez Cosio, never disappoints—but I was a little worried, because this Mexican dynamo has surplus energy that potentially meant I would be squeezed like a grape against the stage as she drenched her powerful spirit on the crowd.

I again thought of that 2014 show. A pit barrier then kept my camera and me free of slamming admirers. But this show at Pappy’s was not sold out, so I was not too concerned about flying bodies.

I ran into to Michael Reiter, a music super-fan who is always a few steps ahead of the flock when it comes to emerging acts. The show started promptly at 9:30 p.m. with no opening band—and the band was bathed in red light. Teresa was wearing a tight-fitting olive jumpsuit more suited for the local Marine base than a rock show, but she was here to let her music speak for itself. I heard a female voice from the audience screaming, “I love you.”

A switch went on as we heard the first note of the baking-hot “Burn the Scab” from Cry Is for the Flies. Her face went from a happy smile to a demon possessed by music that would scare the villain driver in “Hitch Hiker,” one of my favorite tunes—which, unfortunately, was not on the set list.

To my relief, the crowd was very mellow, with no mosh pit and no pushing and shoving, which has been the norm as fans try to get close to Le Butcherettes. Teri Gender Bender did not climb the walls or columns, nor did she walk on the bar. Is this a sign of a more-subdued Bender? Not really: Her body and limbs glitched like a robot zombie who was about to fail mechanically, only to be jolted by a bolt of energy as Teri Gender Bender swapped between keyboard and guitar. Halfway through show, she escapeed the confinement of the jumpsuit—dramatically emerging like a butterfly from its cocoon, wearing a red dress.

Le Butcherettes sprinted through their 12-song set which included “Boulders Love Over Layers of Rock” and “Witchless C Spot.” With the show nearly over, Teri said: “Muchas gracias para esta noche te creemos mucho, mucho.”

By then, the crowd was in full Le Butcherette love mode, as Bender teased with the first few guitar notes from “Henry Don’t Got Love,” which got a pitch-perfect a capella response to the next few notes from a male audience member. She retorted with a few more notes—and unleashed one of the band’s most popular songs. Drenched in sweat from 50-minute set, the band walked off the stage to cheers.

A chant of, “Otra, otra!” came from this bicultural crowd but there would be no encore for this brilliant show.

I go to a lot of music shows—and I still can’t predict an audience’s arrival time.

Saturday, May 6, was an unseasonably cold and windy night in Pioneertown—definite sweater weather, but not even a sweater was enough to keep a person warm. Ty Segall’s outdoor show was sold out—yet fans merely trickled in, taking shelter by the new patio area.

Except for a few die-hard fans, everyone missed a great opening performance by the punk band Audacity, out of Fullerton. The band was also the opener for Joyce Manor at Pappy’s recently; it is good to see promoters are booking real punk rock instead of the bubblegum pop-punk offerings that are so common these days.

Ty Segall let it be known that it was OK to wear white before Memorial Day, which made me feel a little bit under-dressed for the show. He thrilled the audience with genres ranging from heavy rock to garage, with some glam punk thrown in to boot.

Being tucked into the corner stage right due to the weather limited Segall from roaming the stage, but he would definitely get kudos from the likes of James Brown and David Bowie from Rock and Roll Heaven for his rock-star moves. His solid set included “Finger,” “Orange Color Queen,” “The Crawler,” “Papers,” “I Am With You,” “Candy Sam” and “Sleeper.”

Segall’s fans responded with cheers and some fantastic crowd-surfing—but all good things must come to an end. “Thank you very much; have a good night,” he said as he walked off stage.

Opening for Mac DeMarco’s Cinco de Mayo show at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace was a band called Drugdealer. One could describe the group as quirky and fun … but a little strange.

“My name is Mike, and I write songs with my friends the Drugdealers,” said front man Mike Collins, before quipping: “Joshua Tree, the entrance to heaven.”

Drugdealer offers ’70s-style pop, performed by guys who are riding high via a cannabis-fueled airline. Introducing the single “End of Comedy” off of the band’s debut album by the same name, Collins said: “This time, the band rehearsed twice!” Drugdealer did a great job of setting the mood for the rest of the night.

Mac DeMarco came to Pappy and Harriet’s to celebrate the release of his new album, This Old Dog, via Captured Tracks. Once known for larks onstage—which have even gotten him arrested—this old dog has learned new tricks, with DeMarco bringing a calmer and fantastic performance to Pioneertown. What has not changed: his gorgeously composed narratives with quirky lyrics that are simply delightful. The night was cold, which may explain the bottle of Jameson that was always nearby, keeping the singer warm in the high desert air. The audience was probably the youngest I’ve seen at Pappy’s this year—but the crowd was nonetheless dedicated, lining up a few hours before the opening of the gate.

DeMarco walked on and said, “Hello my name is Mac,” before starting the set with “Salad Days,” which got fans jumping. Reaction was also quite positive to the upbeat tune “The Stars Keep on Calling My Name.” Feeding off the crowd, Mac validated their love by saying, “We’ll try to play as long as we can.”

“A Wolf Who Wears Sheep’s Clothes,” another high-tempo tune off the new record, was a highlight of the night.

Someone in the audience at one point yelled, “Yeah! Yeah!” which was met with Mac saying: “Shut the fuck up!” Things were starting to wind down, but the mood was still happy when DeMarco uttered, “Viceroy early in the morning just trying to let the sun in and open my eyes,” from “Ode to Viceroy,” a sappy yet heartfelt song which required a puff from his cigarette and a swig from the emptying bottle of Jameson at his feet. Mac then said, “Thank you guys,” a clue the end of the show was near. A person in the crowd yelled, “I want to bum a smoke,” to which DeMarco responded only with his eyes, saying something to the effect of, “Dude, buy your own pack.”

“Chamber of Reflection” was dedicated to a family he met in the parking lot—this happens at Pappy’s, as there is no backstage area. The young child from that family was brought onstage and allowed to sit on an amp for the rest of the show—on occasion helping with chimes. 

At one point, I bumped into a fan named Georgia who was beyond excited. She told me she missed a Mac show at Red Rocks in Colorado, because she got arrested a few days before; I did not ask for details.

By then, the crowd was in a frenzy. I spied Mac crowd-surfing while on his side—with a cigarette in his mouth.

What a night.

Pappy and Harriet’s, per usual, was the place to be for people who wanted to catch Coachella 2017 acts without having to battle large crowds and traffic.

Last Thursday, Pappy’s hosted a Coachella act doubleheader, and staffers had their hands full ushering the outdoor Future Islands fans out of Pappy’s while clearing the indoor saloon to get ready for the Crash Seat Headrest show, which started a few minutes after midnight (technically making it a Friday show). Lead Singer Will Toledo was short on chitchat; instead, he let his music talk for him.

“Vincent” stirred the initial of many riotous sing-alongs, and was the first of three consecutive Teens of Denial tracks, including “Fill in the Blank” and “1937 State Park.”

The concert also included "(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn't a Problem)" and “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales.” The tunes inspired many attendees, apparently high on life, to take part in a new form of moshing that was polite and featured arm movements that mimicked mating swans.

Car Seat Headrest was top-notch, shredding through intense indie hymns, like the distraught bounce of “Maud Gone,” a tune that tries to understand the emotional feelings of a confused lover: “And when I’m in bed, I’m dead, no one to check my pulse, and so instead, my head, begs not to be so full, and when I fall asleep, which part of me writes the dream and which part falls asleep? Who’s running the machine?”

The show closed with “Beast Monster Thing.”

Car Seat Headrest is concentrated self-absorption mixed with helplessness, liberation and happiness—making it one of the finest indie bands around.

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