Desert Daze Is Back And Heavy On Vibe, Brimming with Trippy Visuals And Sonics CHECK OUT OUT MAIN PAGE COVERAGE OF DESERT DAZE'S 10th Anniversary Outing
LAKE PERRIS, CA- Desert Daze returned to the sprawling Moreno Beach, California, to celebrate its 10th-anniversary last weekend with three days of psychedelic rock led by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Beach House, and Tame Impala, who treated fans to a top-to-bottom performance of their 2012 breakthrough album “Lonerism.”
Set against the craggy, scenic backdrop of Lake Perris, Desert Daze has carved out its own space as one of the most vibrant, avant-garde festivals out there, putting a welcome focus on musicianship, serenity, and an experience that feels genuine.
Throughout the last decade, Desert Daze has proven itself as an incubator. Groups who once occupied the smaller print have now bloomed into legitimate international mainstays — think of Japan psych lords Kikagaku Moyo, who played their final West Coast show as a band on Saturday night before Tame Impala, or the otherworldly King Gizzard, who now snag major slots across the worldwide festival circuit. A common refrain from artists and attendees alike is just how well-curated the lineup is.
The festival’s deep bench is its greatest strength — and what essentially makes all the stages at Desert Daze a main stage. Though billed mostly as a psych festival, the diversity of genre on any given stage compelled you to notice, making this year one the best. Fuzzed-out stoner riffs contrasted Latin and world music, with electronic and synthesized psych woven throughout. Desert Daze is a celebration of the talent of artists who take pride in the mastery of their instruments, connecting with their audience on an astral plane.
The Desert Daze organizers say their goal is to put on a festival that’s “epic yet intimate, esoteric yet accessible, catering to weirdos, but embracing to all, and to facilitate the ever-expanding growth of the human spirit.” The result is heavy on vibe, indeed, brimming with trippy visuals courtesy of Mad Alchemy, neon-soaked art installations, and a wide collection of sanguine spirits.
The topography of the festival grounds and the variety within the lineup led to an assortment of experiences depending on your mood. From the swimming beach to the lawns where you could set up your own loungers and blankets, no real estate ever felt crowded. That’s largely due to the expanse of the state park making it easy to spread out, even if it takes a toll on your legs crossing uneven terrain from one end to the other.
The GA grounds co-mingled diverse food vendors and exhibits with interactive art, like mirror displays and a living room set that looked like it washed ashore. This section was actually more well-appointed than VIP, where offerings were relegated to one chicken and dumpling shack, a coffee stand, and a lone bar. Pleasantly, the marketplace spaces lacked an overt feeling of commercialism, opting for smaller shops with handmade items and local flair.
That feeling of authenticity translated to a largely harmonious crowd filled with friendly people. Whether you were there to bang your head to Psychedelic Porn Crumpets or King Gizz, bliss out to Beach House or purely to experience the aesthetic, all were welcome and everyone fit without discord. We even spotted more than a few strollers, and the crowd responded with space and enthusiasm for the littlest music fans. A festival more catered to fungus than Fireball, it was blessedly devoid of the usual shovers and pukers, as well.
Those who sprung for VIP access were treated to a spacious area with generous views and close access to all three stages, as well as a beach retreat at the other end of the grounds. It was a good place to post up: a line of sight of all stages, as well as cornhole, loungers, and unbroken views of the lake and hills. Perks like air-conditioned restroom trailers are appreciated more and more as the weekend goes on. It was a rare festival instance where you didn’t feel sorely packed in with well-heeled revelers, and you didn’t have to pay extra for anything on the grounds simply because of your pass level (save for parking, which was exorbitant).
Naturally, as with many festivals returning in full from COVID slumber, there’s a degree of disorganization to be accepted. Getting through security was a daily study in changes and contradictions, as well-intentioned but misinformed personnel unevenly searched vehicles — but not necessarily the people in them — miles from the festival entrance. And a lack of signage and adequate lighting on the meandering path to the parking lots created a perfect setup for the next “Friday the 13th” film.
But for any inconvenience, Desert Daze hits the target when it counts. The sheer talent of performers, picturesque shoreline, and kindness of the community puts this festival in a league of its own.
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