On Friday, January 24 at 8 p.m., the L.A.-based band Desert Dragon opened for iconic rock band Blue Oyster Cult at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, California. Desert Dragon consists of lead singer Ross Petrarca, guitarist Greg Patnode (Road Angel, No Morals), guitarist Thiago Straioto, bassist Rick Brandt, keyboardist Daniele De Cario (Le Reverie) and drummer Nick Manson.
Once again your rather reclusive writer was forced to brave the real world sans sexy sidekick. It was one of those nights but thanks to an early departure, your rarely rovin’ reporter made the gig before the indie band took the stage. There was quite a mélange of music fans in the SRO crowd. There were people enjoying meals and sexy gals in high heels. There were waitresses in boots and grey-haired coots, leather jacketed-ladies and old guys with Mercedes. (“Mercedi?” What is the plural for Mercedes?)
After a quick introduction by Alan K. Lohr of Buddhaman ' s International Experience in which he referred to them as his “favorite new band”, the group broke into their first song of the evening “Take It Easy Now”. One of their earliest compositions, it was an apt intro in that it was not only a musical welcome of sorts but also worked well as a first tuneful taste of their signature sound which is a blend of rock, blues and psychedelia.
Their second serving was “Miles Away”. This is off their latest EP the 3-track Desolation. It’s the second single off the EP too. At this point in the performance it was clear that Desert Dragon doesn’t suffer from a symptom that some up and coming bands often do. In essence, their lead singer, Petrarca, sings strongly enough to be heard above the hard rockin’ music.
They moved effortlessly into more of their original work including the country rock-tinged “Texas Border” and the trendy, earth-conscious “Save My World” which begs comparisons to bands such as Queensryche. It was followed by another one of their first works “Desert Horizons” which some claim has a Middle Eastern influence. While your rockin’ reviewer might not totally buy that it doesn’t matter because either way the song simply works.
The next number was “Bring Back The Life”. Every rock band needs a trippy ballad like this. Mind you, while it might be a prerequisite piece, you could tell they put some effort into writing it. In fact, the song is the closing cut on their above-mentioned EP.
They unexpectedly ended their set with “Darkness Shines”. This is also the first single off the EP to garner FM airplay and seemed like a good choice. While a technical difficulty occurred in the midst of this song they carried on like troopers despite this being their first performance at The Canyon Club.
While the audience missed out on “Life’s Tough” and their own adaptation of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” only those privy to playlists even noticed anything unexpected occurred. The band’s professionalism carried them through and no one was the wiser. They put on a great albeit brief show, closed with style and appeared only to be anxious to see Blue Oyster Cult follow them.
In truth, while yours truly had shown for Desert Dragon it would have been a waste of press creds not to stay and check out Blue Oyster Cult after a brief meet and greet with a couple of the boys of the band. While your rockin’ reporter is no hardcore BOC fan, it certainly was great to see the band play such classic cuts as “This Ain’t The Summer Of Love”, the hot hit “Burnin’ for You”, “Godzilla” (complete with some clever solo spots) and their darkly famous “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”. (All that was really missing was Will Ferrell and, sadly, the late, great Allen Lanier).
Overall, the evening was a success. To many, it served as an excellent introduction to the sharp signature sound of Desert Dragon as well as a healthy reminder of the bands that inspire greatness in such newer, indie bands. Indeed, Desert Dragon proved they can “Bring Back Life” to a decades old genre.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.