Jail Weddings And DRUG At Joshua Tree Saloon, Thursday October 12th 2017
Arriving in the desert is always an exotic experience, everything looks different, people are different, the day is super hot, the night is cold, very cold, and they still have saloons over there, places where people hang out at night to drink beers and listen to bands.
I guess it’s not too different from my neighborhood at this level, and before hitting Desert Daze this weekend, I caught 2 bands on Thursday night at Joshua Tree saloon, a place which could easily compete with the famous Pappy and Harriet’s. The place is much bigger to start with, and it was so busy we couldn’t even get ours French fries at 11 pm, so I can’t wait for the day when Paul McCartney decides to stops at this saloon, as he did at Pappy & Harriet.
Jail Weddings was a band I used to see in my neighborhood, but it turns out that Gabriel Hart, the frontman has migrated to the desert with his big ensemble, and they were playing an outdoor gig at Joshua Tree saloon, First, he played a few songs solo then his (almost) full band joined him for an intense show. if you have never seen Jail Weddings live, I guess you have to move to Joshua Tree, because they are one of the most theatrical bands that I know, with a wild energy and songs played with a rare passion, mostly sung by Hart as a mad preacher. You can find a bit of everything in their songs, which mix musical genres with an impressive bombast at the edge of chaos and heartbreak. There is a saxophone, a violin, guitars and usually a keyboard (absent this time) whereas their gypsy-esque musical comedy can sometimes take some surprising and impulsive detours with interesting Bad Seeds -like soundscapes. Of course Hart is at the center of all this, rarely resting during an over-the-top drama performance in front of a wall of sound.
The band DRUG followed Jail Weddings’ rocking performance, and frontwoman Cristie Carter, who had a sort of Stevie-Nicks-meets-a-desert-eagle look, was singing with a dark and lugubrious tone, over a collage of throbbing beats and noise ambiance. The music is driven by the amazing double neck guitar/bass played by Jamie Hafler, as nothing is conventional there. Crisite was visibly in her natural element, wild and dramatic, raw and weird, and their bizarre sound was also altered by pre-recorded tape loops going through a machine, as well as noise coming from an electronic device she was often using. The performance was surprising and surreal, as aggressive (in the punk sense of the term) as it was experimental and liberating, while bringing mystic and an exotic vibe in the middle of this friendly saloon, in the middle of the desert, at the gates of Joshua Tree.