Desert Daze 2019 Highlights

Imagine a world where you can watch amazing bands on a desert oasis just an hour from Los Angeles? It’s possible at Desert Daze. Phil Pirrone and Co curated an incredible lineup of psych rock acts including Stereolab, Khruangbin, DIIV and many many more. I went this weekend to cover the fest for MXDWN, and fully intended to see as much as humanly possible.  It wasn’t always easy – the heat during the day left me feeling woozy and the cold night air was hard to withstand (note to self, bring a thicker jacket!) and there were times I was just ready for it to be over. “You know what’s underrated? Arriving to festivals late” one of my friends said. And I felt that, but what I got to experience by being on the festival grounds all three days from open to close was nothing short of magical, and those moments in which I found myself feeling particularly grateful – listening to a band I love like Crumb while watching the sunset – made it all worthwhile.

I go to quite a few festivals, and Desert Daze is definitely a favorite. Compared to Coachella, which I went to earlier this year, it was night and day in terms of the vibe and my enjoyment. The people of Desert Daze aren’t there for the fashion and photo shoots, and aren’t out for themselves pushing into crowds and being overall douches. They were there for the music and were all super friendly. I got offered a joint on multiple occasions by complete strangers, and people just started talking to me about music or whatever. It certainly didn’t hurt to have a few friendly faces in the crowd, but I’ve also learned that I’m very comfortable going to fests on my own.

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite moments (in no particular order) from Desert Daze:

Friday:

  • METZ blew my mind with a 1am set that kicked up so much dust it was almost unbearable. Their noisy, distortion laden rock had me fixated.
  • Connan Mockasin’s bewildering videos, depicting him as a creepy prep school music teacher was uncomfortably laughable. Plus, seeing him playfully riff along to W.I.T.C.H. as they were playing from afar was hysterical.
  • STEREOLAB!!!!!!!!!! I never wanted their set to end, and they played one of my absolute favorites, “Come and Play in the Milky Night.” Their set made me want to take a deep dive into their entire discography immediately.
  • CRUMB. Another set I never wanted to end. This is the kind of modern music I seek out… it’s jazzy, lo-fi, dreamy, and catchy. I loved seeing the stupid happy looks on the crowd’s faces throughout their set. Plus they treated us to some brand new songs that were just incredible. Do yourself a favor and listen to their new album “Jinx” if you haven’t yet!
  • DIIV playing their new, shoegaze-y album “Deceiver” in full was a bold move, and I liked it. Check out my review for mxdwn.
  • Fred Armisen spared no one with his hilarious impressions of guitarists, drummers, and singers. I wished his set wasn’t at the same time as DIIVs so I could watch more!
  • Frankie and the Witch Fingers was off the hook! They are the next King Gizzard for sure. Pure, psychedelic energy came from that Block stage in the heat of the day.
  • Triptides are LA locals and are always a good, trippy time! Their front man and guitarist absolutely shreds.
  • Dodging balloons during The Flaming Lips

Saturday:

  • Nick. Fucking. Hakim! Wow, what a singer. His intensity was felt through the entire festival grounds, as he sang soulfully with his entire body above beautiful jazzy arrangements, ending his set with such an intense jam that left him no choice but to smash the mic stand.
  • Flying Lotus 3D, followed by a post-midnight set from The Locust. Talk about sensory overload!
  • DEVO played all the hits they’re known for,  and the set was deliciously gimmicky.
  • ALTIN GUN served up the chillest vibes with Turkish psych rock, as people pulled up their floaties and laid down with a cold beer in hand.
  • KLAUS JOHANN GROBE transported us to a German dance party! It was non-stop, excellent danceable tracks that couldn’t even stop me.
  • The KVB served up post-punk goodness, turning the Theater stage into a goth dance party.
  • Anika showed her depth with electronic poetry and a brilliant cover of “White Rabbit.”
  • Automatic started the party with a bumping post-punk set
  • Parquet Courts made even me feel like getting into the pit!

Sunday:

  • FROTH are the band I seem to keep missing, but their latest album “Duress” really put them on my radar. I loved everything that came from the Moon Stage during their set. And Joo Joo mentioning his mom and sister Sasami was a little heartwarming.
  • SASAMI is so much fun to watch! Her vocal range is incredible, and gave me Angel Olsen vibes at some points. But there’s a fire about her, and it comes out on stage when she’s shredding on guitar or screaming into the mic. 10/10 recommend!
  • ALVVAYS was playing all the hits! Or all their songs are just super catchy. It was a lot of fun and I didn’t want it to end.
  • RIDE played a few songs off their new album “This is Not a Safe Place” and blasted our ears with a wash of sound.
  • Moses Sumney was charming and soulful
  • KHRUANGBIN know how to put on a SHOW! This was my third time seeing them, and it was pretty similar to the first two but I was happy to relive the experience all over. Their hip-hop medleys are instant crowd pleasers, and it was fun to watch the people get down on the sides of the stage. Bassist Laure Lee is an ultimate goddess, I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
  • Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nuthin’ to fuck with! I’m not big on hip-hop, but I did enjoy watching this. But Khru-Tang took the cake, when they brought out Khruangbin for the last couple songs, it took their set to a whole new level!
  • Lightning Bolt had my anxiety spinning through the roof when some idiots brought an actual COUCH into the pit, which of course was destroyed and had pieces flying everywhere. One good samaritan grabbed the headboard and dragged it far away.

Overall, I had a great time and the views to the lake were stunning at all hours. Lake Perris was idyllic in terms of location and atmosphere. Having friends to connect with and goof around with the interactive art was a lot of fun too! I can’t wait to see what next year’s Desert Daze brings.

Did you go to Desert Daze? What were some of your favorite moments??

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