Desert Daze And Tame Impala Make Saturday At Desert Daze One To Remember CHECK OUT BLURRED CULTURE'S SATURDAY COVERAGE FROM DESERT DAZE!
LAKE PERRIS, CA- Saturday brought a different feel and more L.A. fashion to the grounds, plus what appeared to be the highest attendance of the weekend. This was likely due to that night’s headliner — psych superstar Tame Impala, celebrating the 10th anniversary of multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker’s breakthrough album “Lonerism” by playing it from top to bottom at the 10th anniversary of Desert Daze.
Otherworldly hazes of blue, green, and orange lights blanketed the Moon Stage, where Parker stood with his Rickenbacker guitar, finishing what he started after a rogue thunderstorm forced him and the band offstage after only three songs during their Desert Daze slot in 2018. (Funny enough, “Let It Happen” did make it into the short set. For lightning reasons, they could not.)
“And I’ve thought about that like once a week ever since, you know?” Parker said from the stage. “But here we are. We made it. We’re back. We’re doing this. It’s a beautiful night. It’s a beautiful fucking night, and by the looks of things, it’s going to be for the whole night. Nothing can stop us now, right?”
Four years later, there’s still hardly a Tame Impala set that won’t include “Lonerism” classics like “Elephant” and “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” but, here, longtime fans were also treated to rarities and firsts. Album opener “Gotta Be Above It” had been out of rotation since 2015, “Music to Walk Home By” hadn’t been heard since the OG “Lonerism” days of 2013, and both “She Just Won’t Believe Me” and the full version of “Sun’s Coming Up” had never been played live.
Even as Parker joked that there was no surprise in what song would come next in the set list, you’d never guess from the elation in response to each track (except perhaps in the readiness of smartphones right before a crowd favorite was about to surface). Every melody was shouted back at the band with joyous release as signs and flags with Parker’s face flew overhead — one depicting him, with his shoulder-length brown hair and beard, as Jesus offering a blessing, except he’s holding a different kind of blessing: a copy of “Lonerism.”
While it’s special to hear those tracks and “Feels Like” never disappoints, we couldn’t help but feel the absence of newer gems from “Currents” and “The Slow Rush” in an encore. Of course, the anniversary set was the name of the game, but a surprise transition from the soft, dreamy journey through “Sun’s Coming Up” into, say, the opening hook of “The Less I Know the Better” would’ve electrified the crowd (and not in the stormy 2018 way).
Tame had strong direct support from Kikagaku Moyo, who played their fourth and final Desert Daze. The Japanese psych rockers recently announced that they’d be going on indefinite hiatus after 2022, opting to “end this project on the highest note possible” after accomplishing their core mission as a band. Daoud Popal was magnetic on guitar, getting in his workout for the day through the seriously impressive leg lunges he manages while soloing in ’70s-style wardrobe. His striped pants were a contender for some of the weekend’s best onstage fashion.
Kikagaku’s hypnotic jams held true to the origin of their name: It translates to “geometric patterns,” which drummer Go Kurosawa suggested when shapes started dancing behind his eyes after an all-night jam session. The only band we spotted that rocked a sitar, made especially good use of the Indian instrument in a cover of Ananda Shankar’s “Streets of Calcutta.” Kikagaku have played 40% of the Desert Daze lineups — they’re up there with King Gizzard — but it was our first time witnessing them live, and we’re glad we caught their last ride into a West Coast sunset.
Kikgaku hits like “Dancing Blue” and “Dripping Sun” showed off the band’s killer musicianship, a quality spotted across stages throughout the day. JJUUJJUU, featuring festival founder Phil Pirrone, featured that same ethos on the Block Stage. Earlier in the day, Seun Kuti stole the show with a charismatic performance that he comes by naturally — he’s the youngest son of the late Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. He now fronts his father’s band, Egypt 80, with style and aplomb (and a sunflower outfit that could’ve started a runway showdown with Kikagaku).
Over on the beach, French stoner-rock trio Slift brought heavier riffs to the shoreline, with blistering guitar solos and top-tier track names like “Thousand Helmets of Gold.” They were a prime example of a band you may not have recognized by name — no, not the American rock band Slint — but held their own against any act on the bill, making them a weekend standout and an example of how no stage at Desert Daze is to be missed.
In the run-up to Tame Impala on the Moon Stage, Viagra Boys did their best to fill the attitude gap created by the absence of Iggy Pop, who had to withdraw a few days before the festival because his band, based in France, encountered visa complications (sus…).
No one can be Iggy but Iggy, but the Swedish band brought a punk aesthetic and satire through tracks like “Troglodyte,” “Punk Rock Loser” and “Sports,” in which lead singer Sebastian Murphy — shirtless, tatted and unafraid to slap his beer belly — begins listing sporting events that soon intermingle with cigarettes and weiner dogs. He swaggers around and shouts “sports!” in the chorus like he knows he’s supposed to care (check out the video), and it brought a spiky humor that felt good amid a largely chilled-out vibe. Though they strut around like they’re in on the joke (their name is a play on men’s failed role in society), their performance of “Worms” also displayed a compelling depth.
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