This was a strange April Fools we had this year. I don’t know if I’m getting too jaded for pranks or it was just a mild day where the greatest trick pulled on me was expecting to be tricked. Either way, my day ended at Frogee’s Cocktail Bar. On this night, the Lillies had a special show with friends Atomik:Kangaroo and Lotus Eater. I didn’t know whether to expect an evening of mild to extreme pranks and jokes or just another night of drinking. With a White Russian in hand (courtesy of owner and bartender Joy), I was all set for what the evening had in store for me.
I chatted with Matthew Humphrey and Roberto Pereda of The Lillies while the stage was being set. The group has a series of shows lined up for the summer, all leading up to an opening set for Blue Oyster Cult at The Rose in Pasadena on July 15th. The band is anxious and ready, leading to some foolish tendencies among its members.
“Robert, you left your car door wide open. I closed it for you,” Said Javi Banuelos, the most recent addition to the lineup after longtime drummer Mark Simpson stepped down in November.
“Oh,” Said Robert.
“You’re such a dumbass,” Matthew adds.
“You can keep that in the article.” Roberto said to me over the table while Lotus Eater finished warming up.
Our first band of the night set a strong precedent for the rest of the evening. A three-piece alternative rock outfit incorporating synth, Lotus Eater’s blend of rock and sci-fi certainly left an impression on the packed bar. This showed is marked as the first live performance with their new drummer and songs like “John Wayne” and “Love is a Hologram” were big highlights from the set. If you’re looking for fresh talent in the high desert, Lotus Eater is the band to follow.
Following them were the hosts of the evening, The Lillies. Going on 9 year with playing their fusion of rock, blues and funk, The Lillies are still going strong with crowd favorites like “The Shake” and “Maria”. Little hiccups like the bass amp cutting out during a song did not deter the band from putting on a commanding performance. The band looks set to take on the rest of dates for the summer and hit The Rose with a vengeance.
As the clock drew closer to midnight, the crowd dwindled while the final act took the stage. I must admit, with a name like Atomik:Kangaroo, I really didn’t know what to expect. The information I found on their Facebook page couldn’t be taken seriously (Advant Blues and the Weather Channel) and when they began donning luchador mask, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into.
The group does not follow the traditional formula of rock, instead creating a bass heavy blend of funk, rock and jazz that puts more emphasis on atmosphere. The sound combined with the mask created an almost avant-garde experience that made the show feel more like an event. The bizarre, yet intricate sound combined with the stage antics served as a fitting capstone to a day of fools and pranks.
During the set, two drunken women (mother and daughter) began whistling hysterically to the band, to other bar patrons, and even to each other. It was hard to tell if these were just two random drunk women or if they were a part of the performance. It was almost as if the band had summoned spirits to possess these women. Perhaps I was becoming possessed, too. What was happening at this bar on Highway 18? When one caught eyes with me, I knew for certain something was happening. She stumbled over to me, still whistling like a siren lost in the desert. Was I being invited to my death? Was I already dead? Was Atomik:Kangaroo the lounge band for this plane of limbo I found myself in?
“Let’s get this fucking party started,” She yelled in my face.
Alas, the only spirits that possessed us here came in a bottle. By the time the show had finished, April Fools had long ended, but the joy of pranksters and deception still permeated the bar at Frogees. The shenanigans of the holiday seemed subdued, as if we were taking a break from tricks, but we still allowed ourselves to be foolish for a little while.