Palm Desert, California
May 3, 2014
The weather had taken a turn for the hot, signaling the end of spring, and the immanent onset of the ungodly heat that is common in the Coachella Valley during summer. Or perhaps it was the desert’s way of welcoming back a few of its favorite sons.
A large group of locals had gathered at a sports bar to watch the hometown heroes of their youth play a rare show. The Palm Desert chapter of the Turbojugend was also in attendance. The opening band went on unfortunately early, with most of the crowd packed tightly together on the outside patio to smoke cigarettes and “medicinal” marijuana.
The bar was a good mix of people from all of the desert cities and a large number of musicians. It’s hard to not run across musicians whenever Unsound regroups for a show. Their shows are cause for celebration and reunion. Many faces in the crowd were familiar; echoes from generator parties long since passed. However, the mood was about the same. Everyone was happy to be there and to be in on something that had mostly been kept on the down low.
Throw Rag took to the stage and Sean Wheeler set the tone for the show by making it clear Brian Maloney and he had arranged the shindig to celebrate friends and family. Befitting that the two elder statesmen of the scene, in what is now known as the birthplace of Stoner Rock, were responsible for packing a random sports bar in Palm Desert, California to capacity in early May.
Wheeler has always been a formidable showman and he has honed his stage presence in the years since the generator parties. Throw Rag is a four-piece comprised of front man Captain Sean Wheeler, guitarist Dino, bassist Franco Fontana, and drummer Chango Von Streicher. They hail from the Salton Sea, and appeared to have added an additional member for the evening.
Their sound fuses rock, west coast punk, blues, surf, rockabilly, and the distinctly desert sound. Their set was lively. Throwing out dedications to former band mates and other locals. Throw Rag has perfected the art of a tight, raucous show. They ended their set with what Wheeler said was their first live performance of Desert Shores; A perfect song to end with. The inclusion of an impromptu spoken word performance finished off one hell of an act for the next band to follow.
But Unsound is not just any band. And when Ian Taylor, Brian Maloney, Jeff Bowman, and Billy Cordell assemble on one stage, it becomes a true generator party extravaganza. Unsound is not an active band, per se so much as it is an experience: a punk-as-fuck throw back to the sounds that emanated from the emptiness that was The Colony (AKA The Nude Bowl.)
Unsound performances are packed with frenetic energy and Ian Taylor slipped easily back into the role of their front man. Their songs were well executed and have withstood the test of time. Because that’s just what good music does: transcends time. Taylor slipped on a hat with KILLEN, the name of their former bass player, across it and paced the stage audibly astounded that they were playing “another fucking sports bar!” There were many in attendance who knew the words to every song in Unsound’s set, which is impressive given tracking down their music is no easy task.
Currently the members of Unsound are all involved in other projects: Taylor tours regularly with Mondo Generator and just released a solo album; Cordell with Kyuss Lives and John Garcia; Maloney and Bowman are both associated with several different desert bands.
It was the intention of this writer to conduct on-camera interviews with the various band members before, during, and after the show. But the familiar chaos of the desert prevailed, and it was agreed upon to do the interviews at a later date. This writer believes that this additional time will allow for a more accurate telling of the true lineage of Stoner Rock. Oftentimes the musicians get unjustly lumped together or overlooked or omitted.
Watch for the upcoming interview series exclusively in Paraphilia Magazine, and please enjoy these videos shot during the show.