CVIndependent

Mon06252018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Guillermo Prieto

Yo La Tengo has been together nearly 35 years—and the band finally made it to Pappy and Harriet’s for a sold-out outdoor show on Sunday, June 10.

Yo La Tengo is often compared with the Velvet Underground—so much so that Yo La Tengo played the nameless band evocative of Velvet Underground in the movie I Shot Andy Warhol.

As a public service to all baseball outfielders who may find themselves with Spanish-speaking teammates, I will now explain the origin of the band’s name: In 1962, Mets center fielder Richie Ashburn went to catch a fly ball, yelling, “I got it!” repeatedly. Shortstop Elio Chacón had the same idea …and collided with Ashburn, because Chacon did not speak English. Ashburn learned the phrase, “¡Yo la tengo! ¡Yo la tengo!” in order to avoid this mishap in the future. I could go on with the story, but this is a music review, not a baseball history lesson.

The band kicked things off with “You Are Here” from newest release There’s a Riot Going On; the song is an expansive instrumental that starts with a sole hum before becoming a wistful blend of guitars and steady drumming. Yo La Tengo is currently a trio with husband-and-wife Ira Kaplan (lead guitar) and Georgia Hubley (drummer), and bassist/multi-instrumentalist James McNew. The band rotated places throughout the stage as they switched instruments.

Kaplan was chatty: “Nice to be here; we have never been here before. If you have any questions, don’t shout them out; write to us, and we will reply.” The band went into new-song “She May, She Might”—also from the band’s latest release via Matador Records—which ponders the idea that you may not know the individual you live with: “She hears, not quite, your voice to reply, she knows by sight too well all that’s being left behind.” Also from the same album was “Shades of Blue,” a down-home song sung by Hubley as she contemplated anguish and solitude: “Staring at walls when I’m feeling down, staying indoors cause you’re not around, indigo, violet; doesn’t matter; what’s the use? Whenever I see them, they’re all shades of blue.”

The quieter songs mellowed the crowd but set the tempo for a more-upbeat set as the night progressed. Kaplan said, “We were surprised on how many people are here.” Adding a press-conference feel, Ira Kaplan pointed to a person in the audience and said: “Question from the front.” The audience member asked: “Have you ever been to the Integratron?” He replied, “Some of us, but not all of us.” Yo La Tengo then shifted into “Autumn Sweater”: “Me with nothing to say, and you in your autumn sweater, so I looked for your eyes, and the waves looked like they’d pour right out of them. I’ll try hard, I’ll try always, but it’s a waste of time. It’s a waste of time, if I can’t smile easily, like in the beginning.”

After that tearjerker, Kaplan announced: “We are going home tomorrow; you can tell by looking at us that we are happy people.” He then added: “As we drove around this area, we asked: ‘Are we the type of band that will do a Gram Parsons song?’ This song has lots of chords.” The band then wound down the set with “How Much I’ve Lied” by Gram Parsons and Pam Rifkin: “Darling, there is something I must tell you, you must know, but it’s so hard to say the words I feel. This fancy that I’m on has been going on too long. It’s time we stopped pretending things are real.”

The band briefly walked off stage before returning with the first encore, “Sugarcube.” Andrea Svenneby, a super-fan from Long Beach, identified that song for me; she’s a former Yucca Valley resident was there with her sister Erica Svenneby, an artist and local real estate agent. As I stepped away to say hello to a friend, I saw Andrea looking at Hubley talking with a fan. Erica tried to coax her to talk to Hubley—but Andrea won’t go over. Finally, as Hubley passed by, Erica got her attention and introduced her to Andrea. What followed was an adorable conversation about the time Andrea thought she saw Georgia on the subway in New York. It was just one of the amazing little moments that routinely occur at Pappy and Harriet’s.

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.

Locals in the Morongo Basin refer to the Joshua Tree Music Festival as “our festival.”

The Sweet 16 version of the festival, held May 17-20, broke records, with a reported 3,500 people in attendance.

For me, the festival is kind of like a block party run by the local artist community. You run into your actual neighbors controlling traffic, submitting art projects and/or just having a good time. With more than 25 bands performing, there was music for everyone’s tastes. When someone asks me who is playing at the festival, I always say I have no idea—but the music is always great. This is a testament to the organizers’ ability to produce a festival that stays away from the mainstream, vanilla acts we see at most musical gatherings.

Tradition dictates that the pre-party takes place on Thursday, with the serving of free beans and rice.

Desert Rhythm Project warmed up the crowd on the Copper Mountain stage on Friday, playing to the hometown crowd. It’s always a fun band to watch, as friends and family sing along to every song. Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles ruled the Indian Cove Stage that same night with a fabulous cover version of “Staying Alive.”

Saturday’s highlights included Con Brio, a soul-funk band on the main stage from the Bay Area. Lead singer Ziek McCarter had dance moves that would make Michael Jackson envious, with speed faster than a Mojave rattler. He walked onstage and asked, “Are you ready to fly?” Fans tried to keep up with Ziek’s grooving and gyrating, but to no avail. His soulful singing dug at one’s heart with vigor.

Walking the grounds on Saturday, I ran into Lali Whisper, a multimedia artist and clothing designer who was one of the contributors to the massive art installation by Randy Palumbo, Lodestar, at Coachella 2018. She created a small mirrored piece for JTMF titled “I Am You.” She openly shared her obsession with mirrors.

I received passionate recommendations from music fans to see Dirtwire, another fun Bay Area band, with Ennio Morricone-inspired instrumentals with some heavy Cajun influence. The meaning of the song “Shish Kabob” is explained on the band’s YouTube post: “Shish Kabob is about an orange mans (sic) unstable appetite for an absurd amount of power and the unintended consciousness.” The cover of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” rocked.

As I left the Boogaloo Stage, I heard music coming from the shaded music bowl. I first thought it was recorded music being played by the production staff as they prepared for another day. As I got closer, I realized the singing was pitch-perfect—and that a band was performing on the Café Stage. I ran into my friend Marisol, who once created a stir by kissing Peter Murphy at Pappy and Harriet’s (but that is a story for another time). Marisol told me excitedly, “I am going to cry; I am going to cry—she is singing perfectly.” She was right: Gabriella “Gabba” Evaro, the lead singer of Earth Moon Earth, was incredible, with silk-smooth vocals on “Rose City (Can It All Come Back)”: “I am lost without your love, my dear, I am afraid, I am afraid to go without you, feeling has always been so hard to speak to you again … it’s been so long since you held me in your heart. … Can it all come back?” Gabba was truly a highlight of the festival.

On Sunday, the festival closed out with some incredible acts. The Shook Twins from Portland were a pleasure, melding alt-country with an indie feel, and proving that adding a banjo is always an improvement. The twins’ sound check prior to their performance was a very quiet version of “La Cucaracha.” Laurie Shook announced: “We are the Shook Twins, not to be confused by the Shit Twins.” The song “Safe” was flawless with spiked melodies. They added to a new song, called “Stay Wild” … imagine if the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack had banjo influences. The Shook Twins’ cover of “Dear Prudence” was astonishing.

Bicicletas Por La Paz, a Latin funk band by way of Oakland, was part carnival and part Resistance, with campy lyrics. Bicicletas’ funk shared influences with traditional Latin music, melding African and indigenous harmonies. Various band chants were encouraged by Adley Penner, who handled the majority vocal duties. Political chants—like “Nazi skinheads go away; Trump is in bed with the NRA”—gave way to a free-for-all cavalcade with dancers, marchers and a few stilt walkers. The members of Bicicletas Por La Paz are pure entertainers with a message.

Grammy-nominated Adam Freeland, a DJ and music producer from the United Kingdom, closed out the festival on the Boogaloo Stage, thumping up some incredible rhythms via his turntable. His live band The Acid recently did the score for The Bomb, a film that debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival. I just know him as the guy who lives in Pioneertown, who DJs some of the parties at artist Cain Motter’s Domeland. He is just another talented great artist drawn to this enchanted place.

After 40 years, U2 still delights.

U2 brought the Experience + Innocence tour to the Forum on Tuesday for a two-date run. Since U2 is not headlining the Joshua Tree Music Festival, alas, I ventured to Inglewood to experience evocations to U2’s decades past—and hope for the future.

The tour, in support of U2’s 2017 album Songs of Experience, is full of considerate and pertinent songs in this political age—but all the new material pushed out some of the hits, including, “Where The Streets Have No Name,” which started a riot of love when they filmed the video to the song in Los Angeles in 1987—a shoot which became famous when the LAPD shut down the filming.

U2 performed on two stages connected by a catwalk; that catwalk had two curtain-like screens that an audience member could partially see through, if the screens were not lit with video imagery. The U2 app also included an interactive augmented reality one could view on one’s phone while at the show. Maybe I am set in my ways, but why I would want to stare at my phone instead of watching a world-famous band?

Bono’s performed part of the show as MacPhisto, the character he created for the Zoo TV—tour complete with white face and a top hat. Bono, of course, used his celebrity platform to push social causes; prior to introducing “One,” he bungled the hashtag he was promoting (#womenoftheworldtakeover), saying, “So many hashtags in my life. Shit happens when people get organized.”

U2 did not shy away from political references, flashing images of tiki-torch mobs during “Staring at the Sun.”

Bono tugged at hearts as he talked about the band’s start in Dublin, playing “Raised by Wolves,” a song about the “troubles” in Ireland, and “Iris (Hold Me Close),” a song about his mother, who died when he was 14.

Bono was nostalgic during “Cedarwood Road,” a song about his youth named after the street on which he grew up. Visual magic on the video screen gave the appearance that Bono was in front of his childhood home.

The diverse 26-song set list included “Songs of Experience,” “Pride,” “City of Blinding Lights,” “Vertigo” and new-song “The Blackout,” which was perfectly loud. “Love Is All We Have Left,” another new song, showed that U2 still has heart and political bravado—and that in this world of fake news, we can still yearn for love.

As the show neared the end, Bono said, “This city has been so good to us.” Bono then added: “Edge is from the future, How is the future, Edge?”

Edge responded: “It’s better.” Better, indeed, as long as music connects us.

Friday the 13th brought Grammy Award-winning country star Maren Morris to Pappy and Harriet’s. The show was originally scheduled as an indoor gig—but plans were shifted after the show sold out in minutes. The concert location was changed to the outdoor stage, which has a capacity of more than 1,000—and the show was still a sellout.

Pappy’s was spruced up with a new wooden barrier erected behind the west perimeter wall that helped with the cold, breezy conditions. Maren Morris created a VIP check-in area that allowed guests to meet the artist and get a photograph with her prior to the general-admission gate opening.

I got there early so I could position myself in front of the stage—and I met super-fan Rodney Braman from Wyoming, who got the VIP treatment. Braman told me that he drove 14 hours with his family to catch the show.

Tenille Townes was an incredibly warm opening act. Hailing from the Great White North, she presented heartfelt lyrics, incorporating her new EP, Living Room Worktapes, into her short set. The songs on that EP include “Where You Are,” “Jersey on the Wall” and “Somebody’s Daughter,” the latter being a soul-tugging song about a homeless girl she saw while on a drive with her mother: “Probably somebody’s high school first kiss … she’s somebody’s daughter … I wonder how she fell and no one caught her.”

Acknowledging the cool evening, Townes said the weather reminded her of home. “We got to drive to Joshua Tree National Park—such a spiritual experience,” she said. I smiled, as it appeared she connected with the audience in a transcendent way.

Maren Morris’ robust vocals and touching lyrics delivered—demonstrating why this singer is worth watching; she already has four Grammy nominations to her credit, with one win—for Best Country Solo Performance for “My Church.”

She started with the song “Sugar,” from her album Hero. She followed up with “Drunk Girls Don’t Cry,” which got a cheer from the crowd. (Some attendees tested this theory: I witnessed a handful of people needing help from friends to stay upright for the concert.) “Bummin’ Cigarettes” was pure country that would make Wanda Jackson or Patsy Cline proud with the verse: “I should find the common thread that makes it all unravel, laying down my dollar just for a temporary high. I got to quit bummin’ cigarettes from the wrong guys.”

The concert took a more serious tone as Morris introduced “Dear Hate.” She explained that she was “deeply in shock” after the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting. She performed at the festival the night before the shooting in Las Vegas, and she penned the new song, with all proceeds going to the shooting victims. She added: “The purpose of music is to connect with people.”

Modestly, she introduced the song “The Middle,” featured heavily in Target ads, acknowledging to the crowd that they probably had heard this one before. Then she announced, “By the way, cheers! I am doing a Dolly Parton song,” before singing “9 to 5.” A chorus of “I love you” rang out from the audience, and she reciprocated with, “I love you, too.”

A little later, she said: “Pioneertown, I am taking you to church with this last one,” before leading into the song “My Church.”

Maren then took a short break before sharing: “I literally got back four days ago from my honeymoon. We wrote this song years ago for Tim McGraw. The first time we played this song was this year.” Her husband, songwriter Ryan Hurd, walked onstage to sing the song with her and close out the night.

I hate to label performers. Is Maren Morris country, or is she pop? Who cares?! She is an incredible performer worthy of your attention if you are a music fan.

Grammy-nominated Swedish electronic band Little Dragon came back to Pappy and Harriet’s on March 2—and two hours before the show, fans were already crowding the stage.

Barriers were set up in front of that stage, because Little Dragon fans get a little crazy—in a good way, dancing as if injected with frontwoman Yukimi Nagano’s personality.

Nagano welcomed her fans by saying, “How are you? Good to be back in the desert.” Her offbeat signature moves were full of vigor as she stepped across the stage—displaying a vitality that was free and unrestrained.

A few songs into the set, Nagano thanked the crowd: “Thank you! Guys, you feel good. Make some noise!” Her request was rewarded by a roar from the audience.

She introduced her melody “Ritual Union” by stating: “This next song is not a love song. The lyrics would enthuse Morrissey: “Love’s sinking in the sand, petals falling on demand, my feet are running like the wind; I’m sorry, boy that we sinned. Love is not like, they say, a lie, that it’s hard to make it stay. I drown my feelings in the sea; I dried out over on the beach.”

Heavy bass lines shivered the adobe walls of Pappy’s as songs transitioned from suave to fast, featuring tunes from the band’s diverse album catalog. Their set list included “High,” “Pretty Girls,” “Strobe Light” and “Crystalfilm.”

Little Dragon’s encore included the song “Sweet,” as well as a light show that was candy for the senses in all forms and hues. As the lights showered fans, Nagano waived her drumstick magically, like a Scandinavian fairy.

“We are Little Dragon, feeling love. Thank you so much,” she said in conclusion.

Shovels and Rope brought haunting lyrics and unpretentious harmonies to Pappy and Harriet’s for a sold-out show on Friday, Feb. 23.

Husband-and-wife duo Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent redecorated the stage with wooden pallets lighted by inexpensive Christmas-type lights. Lamps were also added, creating a comforting ambiance.

“It’s going to be a fun night … peace, love and music,” Michael Trent said as he greeted the audience.

“There is so much desert,” Cary Ann Hearst added. “We were having an argument if we played here before. We are grateful to be here.”

Trent then made a quip about the sight lines at Pappy’s: “We are Shovels and Rope, for those not in the front row. We are two people, and we are short.”

Shovels and Rope fuses electric guitar and a roaring kick drum with thoughtful choruses—and the result was the best performance I have seen so far this year. The Charleston, S.C., couple is very comfortable onstage—as if they are allowing you to visit their living room.

My favorite song of the night was “Carnival,” with sad words of a love lost: “Across the world I wonder, my moments made from years. On a still and silent midway, I wait for you to reappear.”

Trent dedicated the song “Save the World” to the kids in Parkland, Fla., recently been victimized by yet another school shooting. The lyrics include: “When you’re caught in the wave of a terrible tide, suddenly you’re struggling to stay astride, so you calm your hands, and you cool your mind, and you wake up happy on the other side.” As they sang, cheers erupted in the audience.

Michael announced: “We are going to play some deep cuts … a song about the West Coast,” by way of introducing “San Andreas Fault Line Blues.”

From the audience someone yelled out, “It’s her birthday,” while pointing to a woman in the crowd. Hearst responded: “Happy birthday! You’re beautiful. Throw her a $10 bill—not in a slutty way, but in a good way.”

In between songs, crowd members would shout out, “Lay Low!”—a song being requested as if Shovels and Rope were a jukebox.

The song “Birmingham” told the fantastic story of their relationship, describing a “Rockmount cowboy” and a “Cumberland daughter” from a “Delta mama” and a “Nickajack Man” who travel across the U.S. performing. The two then pivoted to a broader history with “Missionary Ridge,” a down-home tale about a Civil War battle. Things got rocking when they laid into “Hail, Hail,” one of the most upbeat songs of the night.

Once again, a woman screamed, “Lay Low!” Finally, the duo relented: “Here is an honored request, sweet little tumbleweeds,” Hearst said. Shovels and Rope was quickly rewarded with applause as the first note was played.

Shovels and Rope concluded the night with Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell.”

Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent combined perfectly sung lyrics and blues progressions, converting me into a fan of what I would call alt-country music sung by Southerners who may yearn to be rock stars.

The Reverend Horton Heat returned to Pappy and Harriet’s for the third time on Thursday, Jan. 11—and the band was welcomed by a sold-out crowd.

But first, Riverside’s Voodoo Glow Skulls brought their ska punk—with a heavy emphasis on punk—stirring up the crowd, especially three corn-feed bro-punks who moshed while the rest of the crowd was buffeted in their wake. As the band chanted “Who Do Voodoo We Do!” the crowd responded by replying, “Fuck You!”—which fed the fury of the moshers, who splashed perfectly good beer on the crowd.

Big Sandy was slated to go next—but Jim Heath, the Reverend himself, announced with a grin that this is a “Pioneertown psychobilly freakout!”

The Rev delighted the crowd with the hits, including “Five-O Ford” and “In Your Wildest Dreams,” off 1994’s Liquor in the Front. Heath caused some rockabilly gals to swoon with these words from the latter song: “My breath on your neck, the touch of my hand, you’ll awake in a room of steam, I’ll see you in your wildest dreams.”

Halfway through the set, Heath introduced the group’s new, husky, drummer, R.J. Contreras, who was incredible, keeping the beat strong and acknowledging the crowd with a “What’s up Pioneertown?” Heath added that R.J. “is young enough to put up with his bad habits.”

Jim Heath shared many stories about bassist Jimbo Wallace, including the time the Reverend performed in Seattle during the grunge-rock era for free—while Wallace bled on the crowd after cutting his hand. The injury drew the attention of executives from Sub Pop Records who were in the audience—and the whole thing led to the band getting signed to the label. This tale segued into the “Jimbo Song.”

At one point, Heath talked about the time they played in Fresno. “Fresno is every bit as redneck as Lubbock, Texas,” he said, leading to a big cheer from Jen Ault Michalk, a super-fan of Fresno who was at Pappy’s celebrating her son’s 18th birthday. Heath went on to say that “Cowboy Love” was inspired by a gay cowboy bar in Fresno, with the lyrics: “Yeah, I know that us as a couple, will cause talk, but I wouldn’t mind; those cowboys will be pea-green with envy, when they see his cute behind.”

The Reverend threw a curveball halfway through the show when he introduced Big Sandy as the best rockabilly singer today. Big Sandy proceeded to sing his song “Hot Water” with perfect pitch—living up to the compliment bestowed by Jim Heath. Sandy reciprocated his love for the Rev, saying, “I am very blessed playing with the Reverend Horton Heat.”

While all this mutual admiration was in the air, I overheard a father saying that his boy, Steven, who is 6, was at his second Reverend Horton Heat show—although Steven does not remember the first time, because he was much younger. Steven was all smiles, sitting on the edge of the stage watching the show at one point when Jimbo handed him a bottled water, causing the child to smile.

As things were winding down, the tempo wound up with “Let Me Teach You How to Eat.” I spied David Catching, a member of the Eagles of Death Metal, rocking out while wearing a hoodie towards the back of the venue.

Big Sandy returned to the stage: “We are going to dedicate this song to all of you,” he said as he took the lead on vocals. Meanwhile, Jimbo Wallace brought up little Steven to the stage. “Steven, have you ever had a bass lesson?” he asked. “Uncle Jimbo is going to give you a bass lesson.” The show ended with “School of Rock and Roll” by Gene Summers.

As I left the stage area after the show, Jimbo asked me if I got a shot of Steven playing the bass. I told him I didn’t, since I was only supposed to shoot during the first three songs. He then asked me to take photos of him and Steven.

“The future of music rests with kids,” he explained.

If I had one day in a year to hear and see live music in a year, I would go to one day of Desert Daze.

The festival once again returned to the 420-acre Institute of Mentalphysics, sandwiched between Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree, on Oct. 12-15. Gone was the “pitchfork” animosity yielded last year by some misplaced musical souls who did not understand this was a celebration of music done respectfully among the sacred joshua trees that surround this community.

Local artist Erica Svenneby summed up the excitement of the weekend thusly: “Fucking Iggy Pop in my backyard!” (See Brian Blueskye’s detailed review, with some of my pics, here.) That’s a slight understatement in my opinion, but a true reflection of the excitement of the festival. However, Iggy was not the only legend in attendance; John Cale was there to bring true musical balance to the utopian lineup, for example.

From the parking lot, attendees walk up a dirt path and run into a teepee sculpture made of wood branches— the go-to place for selfies. The structure was created by local artist Ben Allanoff, a recent transplant from L.A. who previously created sculptures for the Joshua Tree Music Festival.

Before I saw my first band, I ran into the Entrance band founder Guy Blakeslee and his fellow musicians.

If you got there early last Friday, you were able to experience Starcrawler—part glam punk, part garage rock that freaked the crowd out in a very good way.

My crush for the duo of Deap Vally continues; they practically ripped open the Wright Tent on Friday with sonic blasts coming from Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards with the perfect song, “Bad for My Body.” I spied the proud spouse of Julie Edwards, Phil Pirrone, with his year-old adorable daughter attached to his hip as he juggled baby-sitting duties with being the head honcho and founder of Desert Daze.

Ty Segall was back in the desert, after performing earlier this year at Pappy and Harriet’s, with a magnificent new tune “Alta,” and the wonderful song “Fanny” a song about his dog. Closing out the Moon stage on Friday was Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile and the Sea Lice, introducing fans to songs from Lotta Sea Lice, out on Matador Records, which relaxed the late evening crowd in a sea of love.

Jesika Von Rabbit sizzled on the Wright Stage during her early-afternoon performance on Saturday, featuring a new band and introducing a great song “Palm Springs Livin’.” There were plenty of familiar faces from the desert paying homage to the Queen of the High Desert music scene, including artist Bobby Furst, the owner of Furstworld, which hosts some of the best unground parties in JT.

I had no idea who the Gories were until I ran over to the Block Stage on Saturday. Hailing from Detroit, this band was the highlights of the festival. As I listened to “I Can’t Take It” and the cover of Suicide’s “Ghost Rider,” I smiled and asked myself where have you been all my life?

The great thing about being able to go to shows on a regular basis is you meet super fans like Amber, whom I met when the San Jose stoner gods Sleep played at Pappy and Harriet’s earlier this year. Sleep played the entire 1992 album, Holy Mountain; it took just less than 80 minutes to perform. The stage quickly filled with a fog of ganga that would rival the cloudy banks that cover the Golden Gate.

I don’t know whether Phil Pirrione made a conscious decision to book as many gods of garage rock at the festival as possible, or whether the magical earth of the Institute of Mentalphysics pulled in Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth to play on Saturday. No stranger to the desert, Thurston has previously played at Pappy and Harriet’s. Moore’s guitar talked with inspiring riffs of “Speak to the Wild,” played under the shadow of a joshua tree stage left.

Australia’s King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard was back for another Desert Daze on Saturday, with awesome psychedelic rock playing homage to the local fauna with the song “Rattlesnake,” a cautionary tale, perhaps, for those who chose to camp at the festival, with this sinister verse: “Vegetation aggravation found him hiding. Snake is smiling.”

The Eagles of Death Metal’s Jesse “Boots Electric” Hughes stole the show on Sunday with his rock ’n’ roll revival that made you a true believer in the power of rock, ending the sermon with a cover of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream,” featuring the shredding genius and sartorial splendor of Dave Catching.

After being pumped up by the Eagles of Death Metal, Spiritualized softened the crowd out—ending a perfect musical weekend.

“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.

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