O Pioneertown, Part I: Portending the Camper Van Beethoven & friends Campout, Pioneertown, CA, 9/11 – 9/13, 2008

Campout!DF is heading out to the desert this weekend, compadres. And no, this time it’s not about hitting the latest hip sex-addiction rehab spot, or avoiding a constellation of restraining orders so vast and complex that there are only a handful of areas in SoCal where I am legally allowed to be.

Allow me to elaborate: this weekend is the fourth annual Campout music festival. “But what in God’s name is that, DF?” you’re doubtlessly asking. Just hold your horses there, kemo sabe, and I’ll explain everything. You see, four years ago in the high desert country just outside Joshua Tree National Forest, members of foundational rock acts Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker assembled for an informal celebration. In the intervening years, this event has replicated and morphed into an annual pilgrimage for fans and bands alike. This time around, the CVB lands in SoCal fresh off a silver anniversary gig at the Fillmore in Frisco; the boys have also marked the passing of 25 years with a hits album, Popular Songs of Great Strength and Enduring Beauty. The 2008 Campout will feature the original Lowry Axis acts—CVB and Cracker—as well as Built to Spill, Quasi, and a shitload of meritorious others. The Campout has grown to span three evenings’ worth of shows rocking on two separate stages (one indoors, the other ’neath the stars)—a veritable orgiastic feast for even the greediest glutton of musique.

And in addition to the piquant assemblage of bands on the roster, the Campout beguiles also because it goes down at a true gem among SoCal music venues. Pioneertown itself was founded as a Western-movie set in the 1940s (and is emphatically not to be confused with Spahn’s Movie Ranch in Topanga Canyon, which gained notoriety as the home of the Charlie Manson family). While the likes of Annie Oakley and the Cisco Kid have long since vamoosed, Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palaceremains. To say that the Palace combines elements of a honky tonk, biker bar, and eccentric desert hangout is not wrong but still fails to capture the spirit of a truly unique (as opposed to fake-unique in that many people say “unique” (one of a kind) when they mean merely “special” (distinctive, unusual) — few things anger DF more) venue.

So if you’re feeling low; or if the humid press of days is weighing on you; or if you’ve tried Club Med and it sucks; or if you’re tired of studying the history of Utah; then dial up your Eurotrash girl, jump into Joe Stalin’s Cadillac, and get the hell out of Losanjealous this weekend. The sere beauty of the Joshua Tree desert, the musical craftsmanship of assorted seminal alt-punk musical acts, and a possible meet-and-greet with DF will be your rewards. (I’ll be the unshaven guy speaking Wookiee over by the mechanical bull.)

Tune in next week for the electrifying conclusion to DF’s Campout weekend, in O Pioneertown, Part 2. -Ed.


2008 Cracker & Camper Van Beethoven Campout

Thurs 9/11Cracker (Acoustic), Victor Krummenacher, Greg Lisher & Jonathan Segel
Fri 9/12Built To Spill, Camper Van Beethoven, Quasi, The Dangers, Zards Warlock and Wheeler featuring Sean Wheeler from Throw Rug and Zander Schloss & Hod Hulphers
Sat 9/13
- McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Victor K. + Alison F.L.), Jonathan Segel, Kenny Margolis Band, Cracker, Brant Bjork and the Bros, Citay & signing party with Cracker + CVB