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Reviews

25 May 2015
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Despite a series of embarrassing legal issues and odd behavior, R. Kelly remains a powerful and relevant figure in the ever-changing R&B music world—which means it was no surprise that his show at Fantasy Springs on Saturday night, May 23, was nearly sold out. His live show was full of surprises—not all of them good surprises. R. Kelly took the stage about 45 minutes late. When the lights shut off, and his DJ started the intro, a curtain opened—revealing what looked like a bar complete with an actual bartender, tables, chairs and lamps. Some members of R. Kelly’s entourage were out in the audience recruiting ladies to stand on the stage and fill the bar space. The video wall showed images of the Chicago skyline—referencing R. Kelly hometown. R. Kelly eventually appeared, sending the mostly female audience into screams and howls. For what seemed like 20 minutes, he appeared to…
14 May 2015
Desert Daze returned to Mecca, just east of the storied Empire Polo Club, on Saturday, May 2. Mecca once served as the backdrop for Roger Corman’s film The Wild Angels, which helped inspire the motorcycle counterculture films of the 1960s. Desert Daze inspires a different counterculture—part hipster, part hippie and totally unique. If you wanted a Coachella-type ambiance at Desert Daze, you were disappointed. If you expected amazing music in near apocalyptic conditions, you left with a smile on your face. Desert Daze is the brainchild of Phil Pironne (JJUUJJUU) and Julie Edwards (Deap Vally). Improvements to this year’s festival included elimination of delay in entering Sunset Ranch Oasis, used for the day’s festivities; gone was the traffic jam in the middle of nowhere, replaced by a faster security checkpoint in the parking lot. As I exited the car, I noticed the temperature gauge was at 98. Not bad for…
27 Apr 2015
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It was another great day in the Palomino Tent at Stagecoach on Sunday, April 26, when the audience got to enjoy both new talents and familiar faces. Starting things off at 1 p.m. was singer-songwriter Andrew Combs. “We haven’t had anything to drink yet, so this is rough,” Combs said to the small audience. Combs’ songs, a mix of country-rock and folk, were deep and sentimental. He announced his ballad “Suwannee County” was “a song about a conversation I had with an older gentleman about fishing and God.” Before noting the beautiful landscape and departing, he played “Emily.” The chorus was catchy: “E-m-i-l-y, why, why, why, tell me why, Emily.” Following Combs was a rising talent in Nashville: Logan Brill. She gave a nod to Andrew Combs and his song “Month of Bad Habits,” asking, “Can you keep the party going one more day? I want to see bad habits…
26 Apr 2015
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I’m a country/Americana-music purist who prefers vintage sounds, and the best places at Stagecoach to find acts that play this kind of music are the Mustang and Palomino tents. Therefore, when I arrived for the second day of Stagecoach 2015 on Saturday, April 25, I headed straight for the Palomino Tent, and the 1 p.m. performance by Daniel Romano. He performed without drums, and his troubadour style came out quite nicely. He gathered a fine crowd for a performer who was kicking off the day. Later, I interviewed him, and he came off as rather hostile toward the whole Stagecoach experience, which is a shame: He was a talented performer who perfectly illustrates the musical diversity of Stagecoach. After Romano, John Moreland took the Palomino Stage. It was quick transition given, Moreland needed just a chair and his acoustic guitar. Those who have heard his new album, High on Tulsa…
25 Apr 2015
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Stagecoach 2015 started on Friday, April 24, with high winds, cooler temperatures—and a lot of great music. If you’ve never been to Stagecoach, I highly recommend arriving for the opening of the grounds on the first day of the festival. Right at noon, the Monday Night Football theme blasted throughout the grounds, and people took off running toward the Mane Stage. The music also changed to things such as the Benny Hill theme or “Reveille.” Many festival employees stopped what they were doing to film the spectacle with their cell phones. It’s quite a contrast to what happens at Coachella—where they simply snip the caution tape, and people slowly walk onto the grounds without a scene. The Haden Triplets kicked things off on the Mustang Stage. The daughters of the late jazz bassist Charlie Haden, who are signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records, have a neotraditional country sound—with some…
20 Apr 2015
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Coachella 2015 is now in the history books. There were a few moans and groans when the lineup came out months ago, but all and all, the festival’s performances were a success—including some fantastic shows on Day 3. One of the most anticipated performances of the late-morning/early-afternoon was Chicano Batman. The group's psychedelic Latin sound was most definitely appropriate for Coachella, and a lot of local fans who had already seen the band’s local shows were present. Coachella Valley's own Alf Alpha performed in the Sahara Tent shortly after noon and started off his DJ set with a lot of energy. He hopped up on a table and demanded that people raise their hands up—with the incentive of free Alf Alpha t-shirts. The Mojave Stage became the de facto punk-rock venue early in the day. Touché Amoré offered a brutal hardcore set that was scheduled earlier than one would expect,…
19 Apr 2015
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National media sources have repeatedly pointed out that Coachella 2015 is heavy on electronic dance music. However, it seems logical that if AC/DC is a headliner, the rest of the festival is also going to have a large rock presence—and that certainly proved to be the case on Saturday, April 18. Around 2 p.m., Perfume Genius caught our attention on the Outdoor Stage. Perfume Genius, aka Mike Hadreas, was wearing in a long, white Betty Boop T-shirt, black fishnet stockings and lipstick. His music was down tempo, and the bass—strong enough to at times shake the ground—drove some of the songs. His dancing looked like something someone would do in his bedroom when no one was watching. His performance was provocative—in a good way. Around 3 p.m., Royal Blood took the Outdoor Stage in front of a large crowd that had gathered to catch a glimpse of this rock duo…
18 Apr 2015
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Coachella 2015’s second weekend kicked off at 11 a.m., Friday, April 17, with a bang for local music fans. Alchemy—which also played at Tachevah earlier this week, and at Coachella’s first weekend—launched the weekend on the Outdoor Stage. While their Tachevah performance was good, their Coachella performance was even better. Vocalist Andrew Gonzalez noted that the audience was much better this week—and some fans even started a mosh pit during the performance. After Alchemy, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger took to the Outdoor Stage. The band is fronted by Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl; it was a homecoming, of sorts, since they met at Coachella 10 years ago. Their music at times sounded like Deep Purple, with a little bit of Pink Floyd thrown in. Lennon made reference to a couple of the band’s music videos, once claiming: “You’ll like it if you like nipples.” After Ghost of…