Music Blogs

Just why go to a British festival when you can go to the desert

  • By TheBandit
  • 19 August 2014


I skipped the line for beer as soon as I realized the 10 hippies in flower-headbands were in front of me.  Fortunately, a more astute spiritual enthusiast found me a Tacate in her handbag.  The outdoor stage smells like a camp fire which drifts through the flowers, smoke, dust, beards, and well posed, carefully garbed hipsters.  And then Foxygen started playing and all was right under the desert sky.  

This was the closing band for the Woodsist festival at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown, CA.  This is the musical center of the mojave desert, just 15 minutes from Joshua Tree, which has come to symbolize a place of spiritual reawakening.  
There’s a feeling of togetherness here that I attribute to us all sharing in the remoteness and severity of the climate.  Then again, it may also be a result of the real spiritual forces that so many find here.  Or maybe it’s the drugs.
Until tonight, I knew Foxygen only from their albums.  I can’t help loving their dreamy song San Francisco, but the rest of that album “We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic” comes across as a sleepy psychedelic sound.  Until I saw them live.  Now I realize that in the spectrum of southern California’s new sound, they fall towards 60’s soul.  I’m not sure what happened in the producing room, but the songs played live aren’t just a typical live version- the arrangements are charged with rhythm, breaks and passion fueled by the lead singer and his 3 backup singer / go-go dancers.  All so innocent that in the green room, (a small rustic house at the end of Mane Street), they asked politely if it would be ok if they sat down.
The festival started at noon with only a few dozen souls braving the 100º F heat, gathering to a few hundred by the time Foxygen played but still under capacity.  Despite the 130 mile drive from Los Angeles and extreme temps, Pappy and Harriet’s usually sells out, except when it is competing against the likes of Echo Park Rising which had 35 stages and 3 days of free music with hundreds of the best bands in LA.  To my biased self, they are presently the best bands in the world.  Tonight at Pappy’s was but a sliver of the Los Angeles music renaissance that through some wizard magic makes current a mix of psychedelic, garage, soul, new wave and rock.  
The other fave band of the night was the Woods (namesake of the festival), which brought the spiritual connection that everyone here seems to be looking for.   I think that’s why I chose the long drive instead of the Echo Park musical extravaganza.  I definitely didn’t decide based on blasting watermelons with a shotgun or sniping tequila bottles in the open rocks - that was totally a surprise.
Personal note: I’m thrilled and honored to be writing my first blog on Supajam.  I love the site and hope that my accounts of the Los Angeles music scene are a valuable contribution.  I would love your feedback, good and bad.
Photos 1 and 3 by kind permission of Kristy Campbell