“Mezcal, soda, lime.”
“Woo! Thank you, do you guys have Wifi?”
“We do…but if it doesn’t work it’s because you’re on a mountain in the middle of the desert with no service.”
The bartender at Pappy & Harriet’s winked, knowing she was right. It didn’t work, but who cares; I was miles out of Los Angeles and Mating Ritual was about to play. It would be my first time seeing the pop-rock duo since falling in love with their latest album Hot Content and lucky for me, it was under a crisp desert sky.
I navigate the noisy bar and step outside to breathe in the fresh, miles-outside-of-Los-Angeles air. The moon is now high up in the void, and the night seems surprisingly busy for a saloon in the middle of the desert. As the first band Goldensuns closes out their set I walk back in and see Ryan, the lead singer of Mating Ritual, whisk by. He’s wearing his signature white cowboy hat and one of Zig Zag’s one-of-a-kind matching vintage sets — it’s as eclectic as Mating Ritual themselves.
Out of the blue, a colorful drone washes over the bar. Synths swim throughout soft, pink lights, and every hat in the room flocks toward the stage to see the flashy pop-rock duo, Mating Ritual. Ryan slow dances around the microphone before adding his bold, scratchy vocals. Then suddenly: drop. Their catchy, electro tune ‘Game’ pulsates throughout the room. The crowd lets out a cheer as we all sink into the groove.
The stage was soaked in hot pink lights and the old cow skull hanging by the neon Mating Ritual sign seemed very appropriate. Everyone in the room was dancing to the cowboys playing electric pop-rock. In a Grinch t-shirt, Taylor rocks out on keys and synths while Ryan stomps around in the middle.
“Take a walk boys – daddy’s got this one.”
The band breaks off stage while Ryan sings the group ballad ‘Name of Love’ by himself. He pulls the microphone out of the stand, steps into the crowd and everyone chants the lyrics as we make a circle around him. It’s an intimate moment with just the right amount of sentiment to accompany the brothers’ lively show.
After a few jams washed in electric guitar, vibey production, and synth drums, Ryan takes off his sunglasses for a pause. He thanks his dad for being there, as well as friends who came all the way from New York. Like many musicians before him, the brothers have always wanted to play at Pappy’s.
“At the risk of sounding too earnest, this is really a dream. Thank you guys so much.”
Cowboy hats, barbecue smoke, and a starry sky bereft of city lights make up the iconic Pappy & Harriet’s Bar. The desert chill stays outside the saloon while patrons enjoy the comfort of a home cooked meal and live music. Musicians come from all over to claim the right of passage that is playing on the Pappy stage. Set in the town of Joshua Tree, only the best artists are chosen to play under these vast, electric stars. Over the years Pappy has hosted icons like Paul McCartney, Queens of the Stone Age, Neko Case, Patty Griffin, and more.
The brothers of Mating Ritual are no exception to the talent that graces the desert stage. Originally from LA, brothers Ryan and Taylor recently embarked on their great American tour. With dates booked through November, the electric pop-rock duo are celebrating the releases of their latest album, Hot Content. Album number three merges the modern sensibility of their first album with the creative instincts of their second. All four singles off the album quickly found their way onto hit playlists, and while we have plenty of binge worthy content for a while, we’re keeping an eye on these guys. They’re on fire.
Catch Mating Ritual this Thursday at Golddiggers and keep up with the brothers on Instagram.
Words: Ariana Tibi