An exhilarating and eclectic lineup made for a Desert Daze weekend that we’ll never forget
Another year, another iteration of one of the best festivals in all of North America – Desert Daze! The heart of the Lake Perris National Park featured 3 days of electric artists in the sizzling desert heat and the serene fall night.
Friday’s kick off day was an awesome one. Seeing The Space Lady on her final tour was an amazing way to kick off the festival. Accompanied solely by only her synthesizer and her trademark winged hat, she played a quick set full of wacky covers and her most well known originals.
British funk band Cymande turned back to the clock and played some of their classic 70’s hits as the sun set on the block stage. Although a bit late, Sky Ferreira returned to the big stage years after her breakout smash album Nighttime, My Time. Her brand of explosive noise pop tracks sounded fresh as ever and we are all extremely excited for her upcoming release.
French Jazz-Funk legends Cortex took to the beach stage to bebop their way through an extremely bouncy and fun set of jazzy pop tunes. It’s crazy to think that the first two Duster records lived in complete obscurity until Numero Group reissues took the world by storm in recent years. Fast forward to present day and San Jose’s finest slow-core band is playing big festivals for tons of young kids who love and appreciate their songs. A great story and an even greater band, one of my favorite sets of the festival. I felt bad for anyone walking to Clipping‘s set not knowing who they were. Maybe if they had seen the setups of noise musicians William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes, they might have known what was coming. While yes, Clipping is a rap group led by Daveed Diggs, it is also a project that heavily includes harsh noise and abrasive sampling. If this set was inside heads without earplugs would have been exploding like those in Videodrome.
I knew that King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard had a cult following but man… they really have a cult following. There were many people who have been following the band on tour, and seemingly only owned KG related articles of clothing. It’s pretty evident to see why this band is called one of the best live acts today; from psych rock to thrash metal to jazz to pop, KG&TLW spans the musical spectrum and definitely knows how to party hard. Final set I caught on Friday was an exceptionally fun dance set from Nosaj Thing. Seemed like he was doing some live mixing and cutting and really combined pop sensible house with weirdo samples and noises. Really cool set to close the night out.
Saturday was the meatiest day of the whole festival with rad acts going on all day. Seeing Sloppy Jane live in 2022 is much different that seeing them even a few years ago. SJ reminds me a lot more of amazingly creepy singer songwriters like Nick Cave and Tom Waits more these days which is pretty crazy considering they were considered an outsider punk band not too long ago.
Philadelphia’s Soul Glo was amazing as always. Not too many hardcore bands on this lineup so it was pretty rad seeing a breakneck fast punk band play on a stage this big. If you’re not listening to Soul Glo… you should be! Cambridge’s Black Country, New Road was a change of pace from what bands they were sandwiched between time wise. A nice batch of artsy post rock / chamber-y tunes from an insanely talented young batch of kids.
London’s Shame was the next band I saw on the main stage. Pounding post-punk tunes with lots of energy to boot. On their first ever US tour, French heavy psych band Slift went all out for their evening performance. With tracks that nearly touched the ten minute mark, Slift’s gargantuan tones rocked the twilight hours. Definitely check this band out if you are into anything psychedelic.
The known Swedish goofballs Viagra Boys took the main stage Saturday night to give us their usual brand of dancey, tongue in cheek tunes. Frontman Sebastian Murphy was sporting his classic combo of head to toe tattoos, Adidas tracksuit, and one of a kind beer gut. It was never evident to me how much the bass lines from bassist “Benke” Höckert drive all their songs. They’re an incredibly fun live band.
Brooklyn’s Nation of Language was just what the doctor ordered for all the festival goers who were deprived of their usual dose of synth pop for the weekend. The 3 piece, led by ultra charismatic front man Ian Richard Devaney, had a crowd of dedicated fans to follow them to the beach stage and sing their lyrics along with them.
I was not prepared for The Armed at all, and I’ve heard every Armed record. Setup took about an hour because their stage setup was absolutely insane. From my calculations they had 6 hot mics, 4 laptops running sound, and their own soundboard that they brought from home. I got so in the zone of watching them setup that when the initial moments of All Futures kicked I, I almost felt like I was caught sleeping. All of a sudden the 9 members of The Armed were all screaming in my face, throwing their equipment, blast beating and absolutely getting down. Also I forgot how insanely ripped almost everyone in this band is. After songs where singers sung from the crowd and started their own mosh pits, The Armed broke all their non essential equipment and ran off. I’m still processing what happened.
After that, we saw Tame Impala play their classic 2012 album Lonerism from front to back. I don’t know what else to say. We know these songs, we love these songs, and so do you! From there it was back to the beach stage to see New York’s Show Me the Body who took the stage after midnight to deliver a hard hitting set to the Corpus die hards in the crowd. The banjo led hardcore group (yep) played a quick set mostly comprised of tracks from their Dog Whistle Lp and their Survive EP. The meanest band on the entire lineup went one who show without slapping someone’s phone out of their hand but did slap their way into our heats. To close out the night for me, Telefon Tel Aviv did a set of experimental electronic cuts with heavy bass and practically no rhythm… it was tight.
Sunday was nothing short of mesmerizing. London’s Vanishing Twin was an offbeat take on psychedelic music that had a bunch of unique ideas to spare. In a total change of pace, JPEGMAFIA took to the main stage as the only rapper to do so all weekend. If you’re familiar with Peggy’s work, he delivered his usual brand of ultra energetic and ultra loud experimental rap tunes. With unmatched stage presence and energy, he’s definitely one of the can’t miss acts in the world of hip hop today. Daniel Rossen took to the block stage to bring us some folk and country infused rock tracks mostly from his latest LP You Belong Here. Toronto’s BADBADNOTGOOD played some awesome jazz fusion tracks before I had to take off to see Nottingham’s Sleaford Mods. Sleaford Mods was everything I wanted in a set – angry complaining, great stage presence, driving bass lines, and punchy one liners. See Sleaford Mods if you can, there ain’t no one out there like em.
Ukraine’s Dakhabrakha had one of the most unique sets of the weekend. With fiery tracks centered around liberation and protest, it was a great change of pace to see a band centering their set around a message, something that I felt was sorely needed for the weekend. The Marías were a much chiller set as they took the main stage to capitalize on their rapid growing success thanks to their debut album CINEMA. Fuzz brought their usual set of heavy psychedelic rock tunes to the Block Stage as Ty Segall and company jamed their way through an amazing set. While I’m eternally sad that I didn’t get to see Iggy Pop, seeing Beach House was still pretty great too. Also I didn’t realize… Beach House has so many hits. While not the band’s biggest supporter, I think I knew almost every song they performed. Guess that goes to show that they’ve been a staple to indie music for the past 15 years.
With so many festivals in the US and California especially, you have to be choosy in which ones you want to attend. We love Desert Daze not only for it’s incredibly diverse lineup and dazzling art installation, but for it’s gorgeous and serene location. With one stage on the beach, one stage with a mountain backdrop and another with a full view of the night sky, it’s easy to see why draws so many people to this gathering. So long and definitely see you next year.