Dazed in the Desert: A Psychedelic Trip through 2018’s Untamed Anti-Festival
Somewhere between a secluded desert and a cosmic playground, we find ourselves in a mirage of majestic mountains, phantasmagoric illuminations, and a balmy lake of inner reflections to dive into. Desert Daze’s 2018 psychedelic music festival took us on an ethereal trip from their previous deserted Joshua Tree location to a new land of wonders to get lost in at Moreno Valley’s Lake Perris Recreation Area, just an hour east of Los Angeles, California.
Humans from all over this planet traveled far distances, not knowing what to expect from these isolated grounds, but for a dynamically curated lineup of their favorite experimental sounds to immerse themselves in. Just seeing the Neo-Psychedelia trifecta of mutli-instrumentalist wizards Tame Impala, POND, and GUM join forces on the same day was enough for most to book their passes & flights immediately. Speaking of wizards on the bill, headlining day two was yet another of Australia’s crazy acid-rock kooks, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard ready to rage on through a publicized 90-minute set. Keeping the feeding frenzy of exhilaration going through day three we had Death Grips and My Bloody Valentine finishing off the fest and the rest of any senses we had left to stimulate.
Once you got in through the check-in traffic to the festival grounds, you’re suddenly greeted by the oasis of Desert Daze with the grand Lake Perris in view and the rustic amber-colored rocky mountains fully surrounding you. Kicking off the festy magic were joyous Madrid babes Hinds and space-pop prodigy Jay Watson as GUM with one of his three performances of the night. Second of which being with POND, led by high-spirited charmer Nick Allbrook, bringing in the west coast sunset over the mountains with a chromatic show of eccentric spunk.
Most fans at the main Moon Stage stayed put from then on for the uniquely astounding fem-quartet, Warpaint, who seemed to have put a wistful spell on Desert Daze, leaving the crowd eager for a lightshow as Tame Impala set up for their much anticipated headlining performance. Starting to feel even more sensational, the crowd was dazzled by the spectacular bursts of lightning in the clouds reflecting off the lake which didn’t phase anybody from migrating.
After a spiraling vortex hypnotized the crowd, Tame Impala took the stage with the ambient bass waves of Nangs leading into a triumphant 8-minute celebration of life with Let It Happen as cannons blasted a rainbow of confetti in the air. A celebration short lived as gusts of wind and rain showers cleared the confetti as well as the band off stage once completing their third and final hymn of the night, Sundown Syndrome.
It wasn’t until the next morning, after everyone had eventually found shelter, that we were notified the festival would still be carrying on. Desert Daze allowed all Friday festival passholders to return for the weekend after losing such notable performances like Tame Impala, Connan Mockasin, & WAND.
Day 2 really brought out the magic of everything there was to enjoy throughout the festival as we found ourselves exploring through voodoo yarn tents of bones & baby doll limbs, different saturated rainbow portals, and even a disco spaceship treehouse right on the beach.
Many unique settings to watch the dimming hues and casting shadows on the mountainside from another captivating sunset as Kevin Morby’s hopelessly optimistic tunes set the dusky, atmosphere for everyone to get ready for a wildly, entertaining night.
Festival founder and JJUUJJUU leader, Phil Pirrone, took over the Block stage with a kaleidoscopic ceremony of heavy shredding before Kikagaku Moyo flooded everything in a whirlpool of chromasia with their Tokyo-Psychedelia.
KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD
As the moon and stars had come together for Slowdive’s heavenly set, all hell was about to break loose as King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard set the stage to summon the wicked side of every fan in the pit ready to rage on. AC/DC’s Riff Raff intro brought these cold-blooded animals to set the night on fire like a bolt of lightning striking a desert tree.
With a nonstop marathon 2-hour set, these devilish creatures brought out the rambunctious spirit of everyone and I’m not even sure how I survived that Rattlesnake pit with my limbs still attached and camera still intact. Safe to say we definitely took the rest of the night easy listening to Shannon and the Clams’ mix of 60’s surf-rock bops and garage riffs.
Sunday had a genuinely open, laid-back atmosphere, where all anyone was really concerned about was relaxing with music to transform them. The weather was breezy and cool enough for festival goers to wear their all black outfits or even strip down to take a dip in the lake for a quite literal beach goth party though we still had some rare acts to over stimulate our sense to.
Death Grips unforgivingly took the main stage and set off a riot of noise and cataclysmic energy. Their Mid-’90s drum ‘n’ bass beats with shoegaze guitars took over the night creatures, but not before My Bloody Valentine could destroy the rest of the festivals eardrums. A ferocious rumble of intensely powerful noise-rock, glimmering with translucent trippy images, so loud that the festival had to prematurely hand out earplugs to prepare everyone. You could hear the formidably, paralyzing beauty of their uproar from the campgrounds almost a mile away like a climatic warzone.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE
Desert Daze has carved out its own identity as an anti-festival of untamed psychedelia and savage creativity with a unified vibe of expression and transformation. You can definitely expect the unexpected every year to come with their extraordinary lineups and surreal installations and experimentations of sights and sounds.
Coverage by Javier Ortiz (@zitrovision) an Veronica Potes (@thespanishbardot)
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