Self-proclaimed Queen of the high desert, aka Jesika Von Rabbit, had a release party at the Hi Hat on Monday night and she brought with her a couple of dancing bunnies to animate the bizarro-world songs from her latest album ‘Dessert Rock’.
Her art-rock show is a blend of many different things but it certainly is a captivating spectacle. Standing behind her keyboard and flanked by the dark silhouettes of her two cowboy guitarists, Jesika’s strong and powerful croon resonates with an almost authoritarian tone. She knows what to do to get noticed, and who could blame her? It’s a tough world out there, she comes from the high desert, a male-dominated country where the likes of Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age have dominated the scene for too long, and her album title, a play of words on the macho desert rock scene, is sweet enough to open your appetite for her tough dancefloors.
The former Gram Rabbit frontwoman leads a surprising and inventive show, the theatrics are funny and sexy, the go-go dancers look like a Lewis Caroll’s peep show dream and the sonic ambiance is as surrealist as a David Lynch movie, blending styles you would not necessarily expect coming from the desert scene,… but whether she invites you to go down the rabbit hole or teaches you about Palm Springs living, it’s difficult to resist.
During her 40-minute set or so, Jesika was in command, looking as cute as her black leather bunny ears, singing with a voice as tough as Nina Hagen’s famous howl, standing tall at the top of her fantasized world of dancing stripper rabbits. Combining tongue in cheek lyrics with visual stimulation, Jesika’s nasal vocals shook ‘Children of the Dust’ into a violent sunstroke-like dancefloor, and she adopted a rap delivery on ‘Psychic Spice’ with the help of two moving bunnies, ‘I’m WASPY. I’m snotty. I’m Illuminaughty. I live it. I love it. I show it. I shove it. I shave it. You crave it.,’ throwing the type of wordy avalanche that transcends meaning. The Arabic-influenced electronica of ‘Make me Feel Better’ had the strange ambiance of a futuristic souk while the background guitars were layering up her hip hop swagger. Then, there was the disorienting darkness of ‘Going Down’, and her oo-oos affronting the reverb of the guitars, followed by the more upbeat ‘Calypso Facto’, however, her new wave synth had never been tougher than during ‘Palm Springs Livin’, which worked like an aggressive and almost industrial nightclub. The infectious handclap of ‘Innuendo’ brought the most political lines of the night, ‘Fight the power, trump the tower’ with a flower generation response, ‘People on the streets in a panic freak let’s love again baby’, before plunging us into another dark side of the high desert during the last song, ‘My Medicine’, all wrapped up with spaghetti western guitars.
At a time when bands often clone themselves ad nausea, Jesika Von Rabbit’s managed to invite us into her original world of dark dancing halls filled with rabbit holes, dusty trailblazers and hallucinogenic disco bowls. She painted her unique and clever vision of the desert scene with an unapologetic synth and a sweet touch of theatrics. Joshua Tree has never sounded so weird and this is certainly irresistible.
Children of the Dust
Make Me Feel better
Palm Springs Livin’
a nightmare that becomes a dream
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