CVIndependent

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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Reviews

23 Apr 2016
J. Mascis opened for label-mate Beach House on Tuesday, April 19—one of the in-between Coachella shows at Pappy and Harriet’s. Macias did not have a wall of Marshall amps behind him like he did when his Dinosaur Jr. performed at Coachella in 2013. Instead, he was seated as he performed. He played “The Wagon,” a track by Dinosaur Jr. first released in 1990; according to his tour manager, it’s a tune he seldom plays live. Mascis weaved in a few Bowie instrumentals as he led into his set, and then took a minimalist approach by only switching between two well-worn Gibson acoustic guitars—each of which were magical in Mascis hands. His stunning set included “Heal the Star” and “Make It Right.” Fans dispersed after J. Mascis to refill their beverages and grab some great barbecue from Pappy’s grill—but these fanatics quickly reappeared to see the headliner. Fans surrounded me. Some…
15 Apr 2016
The best bands in stoner rock flooded the Desert Generator festival at Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, April 9. But unlike the legendary generator parties of the past, this party had a strict 11 p.m. curfew. Gotta keep the neighbors happy, after all. In association with Rolling Heavy magazine, the event featured a vintage-van contest. Only American-made classic vans were allowed to enter, but thankfully, VW buses were still permitted in the parking lot, which allowed a groovy set of fans to arrive from Joshua Tree. Brant Bjork, co-founder of Kyuss, helped plan the event. I was expecting a smooth night, because as a rule, one associates vans with mellow dudes with long hair, swaying to the music and perhaps occasionally banging their heads against the stage monitors. Everything started out as expected, with Ecstatic Vision laying down a mood-altering set. Their set was a catalyst for one Mr. Tripped…
29 Feb 2016
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The Commodores and The Jacksons were two of the bigger groups during Motown’s heyday—and while their celebrity may have faded a bit over the years, the groups remain relevant, as proven by the nearly sold-out audience at Fantasy Springs on Saturday, Feb. 27. While The Commodores were a delight, The Jacksons’ set was a disappointment, largely because of the curious setlist. The first up was The Commodores. While Lionel Richie is no longer part of the group, having left in 1982, The Commodores have never stopped performing since the group began in 1968. While William King is the only remaining original member, Walter Orange has been with the group since 1972, and James Dean Nicholas has been a member since 1984. The group started off with “Wild Thing” (not the Jimi Hendrix tune) and was energetic from the very first note onward; it soon became obvious this was a night…
31 Jan 2016
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Heart is one of the most successful rock bands ever. One trivia tidbit: The band has now had a Billboard Top 100 album in five straight decades—with a Top 10 album in four of those five. With such an amazing résumé, the band is expected to deliver—and Heart certainly delivered on Friday night, Jan. 29, at Fantasy Springs. Heart was due to take the stage around 8 p.m. At that time, the house music changed, getting louder and sounding like stuff you’d hear in a yoga studio—but with a hard-rock edge. After about 10 minutes of that, the lights went down—and Heart started things off with “Kick It Out,” from the 1977 album Little Queen. “Heartless” then followed. I had never seen Heart perform live before, and within the first 10 minutes, it became clear that Heart’s reputation as a fantastic live band was well-deserved—and beyond. Ann Wilson’s vocals sound…
19 Jan 2016
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Forgive the odd comparison, but it’s true: Tony Bennett shares one thing with the late Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister—he can stand in one spot and effortlessly deliver an amazing performance. On Saturday night, Jan. 16, Tony Bennett returned to Fantasy Springs a year after performing a great show there. Saturday’s performance was also incredible; it was more jazz-focused than last year’s show was and featured a few surprises. However, many of Saturday night’s moments were repeats from last year’s gig, including a joke about how he did an album with Lady Gaga because she “needed the money.” The show also started off similarly: Antonia Bennett, Tony’s daughter, opened with a few songs. She also delivered a great performance—while pregnant! After she thanked the audience and walked off the stage, she said to pay attention to a message from the chairman of the board. A vintage audio clip then played of…
21 Dec 2015
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The Brian Setzer Orchestra has become known for profitably celebrating the holidays. The group has released four Christmas albums and has gone on several holiday-themed tours over the years—so it’s no surprise that the show on Saturday night, Dec. 19, at Fantasy Springs was nearly sold out. Setzer started off the show with the first track on Rockin’ Rudolph, the group’s new Christmas album: “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” a true classic. While the show might have been billed as a Christmas affair, Setzer made it clear early on that things were going to vary when he played “This Cat’s On a Hot Tin Roof” and then went back to his Stray Cats era with “Stray Cat Strut.” After “Stray Cat Strut,” it was time for him to switch out his signature Gretsch guitars: He traded his red guitar for a beautiful green one while receiving an ovation from the…
19 Oct 2015
As you drive in the dark to the Joshua Tree Music Festival on Highway 62, you have to look carefully for the right turn. As I tried to enter, I was met by a security person manning a handmade level barrier with the word “Alto” hand-painted on it. I stopped. Lucky for me, I am bilingual. This was the 10th year for the fall Joshua Tree Music Festival, which took place Oct. 8-11 at the Joshua Tree Lake Campground. This micro-festival takes place an hour away from the spot where those mega-festivals take place in Indio. With the help of volunteers, this is definitely a DIY affair. Familiar faces were everywhere, helping with everything from food to production to the construction of the grounds. Gene Avaro Jr. and the Family (which just finished a national tour with RCA recording artist Elle King) provided the soul of the festival: The musical…
05 Oct 2015
The Eighth Annual Desert Stars Festival brought more than 30 bands to two outdoor stages and one indoor stage at Pappy and Harriet’s on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 25 and 26. In other words, attendees really had some tough decisions to make regarding which bands to see. The Desert Stars Festival is a traditional celebration of all things desert. Promoter Tommy Dietrick started the event as the Clean Air Clear Stars Festival in 2007, and changed the name in 2013. Via the festival, Dietrick did a excellent job of promoting the galactic efforts by the Mojave Desert Land Trust. MDLT had a petition table to urge POTUS to create several new land monuments. Dietrick reminded everyone to sign the petition and thanked MDLT for preserving 60,000 acres in the desert. To my surprise, I ran into some music fans I met at a metal show in Orange County, and a…