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Reviews

30 Apr 2018
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What do Beyoncé and Garth Brooks have in common? They both brought something amazing to this year’s world-renowned local music festivals. On Sunday afternoon, Garth Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood, appeared in the Rose Garden at the Empire Polo Club for a press conference, where Stacy Vee of Goldenvoice announced this year’s Stagecoach had set a record with 75,000 attendees. Brooks started off by thanking Goldenvoice CEO Paul Tollett and Vee, Goldenvoice’s festival talent-buyer, for the invite to play at Stagecoach. He also mentioned that Yearwood had played the festival 10 years prior in 2008—its second year. I asked Brooks during the press conference how many times he had been approached to play the festival, and what made him finally decide to say yes this year. “We’ve been very lucky that Stagecoach has asked for us to be here,” Brooks said. “We retired back in 2001 and raised our…
29 Apr 2018
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Keith Urban may be from New Zealand, but his brand of country music is as American as it gets. On Saturday night, Keith Urban returned to Stagecoach for the first time since 2010—a day after releasing his new album, Graffiti U. Despite blustery winds on Saturday night, Urban put on a magnificent performance. When he started his set by playing the first few chords of “Somebody Like You,” the excited welcome from the Stagecoach crowd was just as loud as the music. The wind was a challenge for Kacey Musgraves, who performed just before Keith Urban and appeared frustrated a few times—but the wind didn’t seem to faze Urban. As the wind blew Urban’s hair all over the place, he joked with the audience, “This was exactly what I was looking for tonight, Stagecoach.” He added a little later that it “smells like it’s pretty cool down in the front,”…
28 Apr 2018
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The 12th iteration of Stagecoach kicked off Friday—and festival attendees had one less stage to enjoy than they’ve had in previous years. The Mustang Tent—which hosted many bluegrass, folk and alt-country bands over the years—is gone. There are now only two stages with music going at any given time, and the alt-country, bluegrass, folk and classic-country acts have been scaled way back. The Mane Stage opens later in the day (the SiriusXM Spotlight stage fills the gap before 4 p.m.), and the Palomino Tent is smaller. Considering previous Palomino headliners like the late Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Lynyrd Skynyrd drew crowds that could fill the current Palomino Tent way beyond capacity, this may or may not have been a good decision. Does this mean Stagecoach is no longer any good? No, it doesn’t; Stagecoach on Friday was still a fantastic time—even if some of the cutbacks, leading to a…
25 Apr 2018
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…
23 Apr 2018
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Coachella 2018 will be remembered for a lot of firsts. Beyoncé was the first black woman to headline at Coachella. This was the first year when there was no rock headliner—and a year when rock music took a backseat to rap. It was also a year of change. The Sahara Tent—known in the past for featuring some of the biggest names in EDM—had a new layout and was in a new location. This Coachella introduced West Indio Market, a large food court. Yeah, Coachella has come a long way since the first festival in 1999; in fact, my friend Courtney, who attended the first few incarnations of Coachella, said it’s totally unrecognizable compared to those first festivals. However … let’s examine these aforementioned 2018 remembrances. Was there really less rock music at Coachella in 2018? I’m not sure that was the case, outside of the headliners. The Sonora Tent featured…
22 Apr 2018
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Beyoncé’s Coachella Weekend 1 performance made news around the world. Well, her Coachella Weekend 2 performance was just as impressive, even if it was pretty much a direct copy of her set last week, complete with the Jay Z appearance, and the Destiny’s Child reunion. Although Beyoncé started about 15 minutes later than scheduled, it was an incredible spectacle—with the energy of a crowd of more than 100,000 people. The Internet stream truly didn’t do her performance justice. Being there in person to witness the show—to hear Beyoncé’s voice and feel the energy of that crowd—was amazing. This is what big-time live music is truly about and why people go to shows. Beyoncé held the crowd for close to two hours—and there were people as far as the eye could see until the very end. Of course, there were some other great performances during the day. • X Japan had…
21 Apr 2018
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A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with someone about Coachella, and specifically this year’s lineup. “It’s not as fun as it used to be,” he said. On Friday, as I walked around the Empire Polo Club, I pondered my friend’s assertion. I don’t agree: Coachella is still fun! There were a lot of changes made to the layout this year. The new Sonora Tent, an air-conditioned space inspired by the Glass House in Pomona that hosts a lot of the smaller rock acts, has been moved to where the Mojave Tent used to be. The Mojave Tent has been moved to where the Sahara Tent used to be, while the Sahara Tent moved to the front lobby area, close to the Ferris wheel. I spent a couple of hours of wandering aimlessly and taking in the vibrant art installations. One highlight: Spectra, designed by design studio NEWSUBSTANCE (right).…
11 Mar 2018
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…

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