The Widows play a punk inspired set in the early afternoon at In Ko Pah 4

At In-Ko-Pah-4, serpents coil, rattle, and flick their tongues to taste the visible heat waves above the desert floor; a whistling of spirits brought to a boil can be heard in the wind that slithers through the passes in the mountains.

Jock Jams plays subtly over the speakers of the charter bus that will take us to the festival grounds. San Diego celebrities are all in attendance–91X DJ Tim Pyles nestles himself in the front row and Food Network famous chef Monterey Salka is getting looks of disapproval for resting her feet on the headrest in front of her. She responds to these sharp looks by notifying the public of her reaction to the heat: “I’m not oblivious, I’m not an idiot, I’m just swollen!” A comment she’d regret when bus acquaintances would later refer to her as “cankles” inside the festival.

The heat was a factor, ladies and gentlemen, so I thought it be best to sit on the AC bus, catching a slight buzz while getting acquainted with the demographics and behaviors of the attendees. Surprisingly, everyone was incredibly friendly, open to orgies and unoffended by my berating, antics, and questions. I realized that this was a festival of “the people” with incredible local musical acts in an intimate atmosphere that allowed for genuine interaction between attendees, bands, and locals.

Once inside the festival, we climbed the curious Desert View Tower that the festival surrounded. We enjoyed the splendor of the panoramic views of the Jacumba Mountains while the Campfire Cassettes played comfort songs about cocaine and speedballs. Stephen del Rey followed next with his signature croon t-strap vibrato blues and with a particularly notable sax player that will remain anonymous. Upon descending the tower we explored its many jewels. Each of the floors had a loose theme where you could find everything from peace pipes and Quanah Parker portraits to player pianos and telepathic dogs. We set upon unraveling their mysteries but grew unmotivated after hearing the sounds of Strawberry Moons because, after all, who can’t help catching the juxtaposition of moody, psychedelic rock and roll under the blistering sun.

As the sun began to grow weary and the silhouettes of the mountains closed in on us, The Bassics took to the stage like the little talented Latino devils mentioned in their abuelitas’ folk tales. They gave an adrenal jolt to the night and Juan Carlos took an evil drum solo that made me draw up assassination plots whilst sporting a quarter chub.

As if I wasn’t tripping enough Operation Mindblow was on visuals for the night and boy did we fly. I was jazzed when he allowed me to control bubbles and lighting during Birdy Bardot’s set. Bardot’s music gave me flashbacks to a past life. In this life I’m a small town girl in the early 1970s with dreams of making it big in California. I’m driving my boyfriend’s stolen Cadillac convertible across country and the AM radio plays Bardot as I cross the border from Arizona to California.

The place, the people, and the music was all stunning and I will definitely return the following year.

Review by: Rory Morrison
Photos by: Lilay Cai