Desert Daze Kicked Off The Exploration Of Sonic Landscapes With King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Perfume Genius, Sky Ferreira & More Check Out Blurred Culture's Friday Coverage From Desert Daze!
LAKE PERRIS, CA- After a scaled-back iteration in 2021, Desert Daze returned to Moreno Beach this last weekend at full scale celebrating its ten-year anniversary. Though, like many festivals navigating the remnants of Covid chaos, Friday’s start was not without its issues. Lack of direction and changing information led to snarled lines and confusion through security. Systems were slow to come online, and some areas were without power. This was no Fyre Fest, to be sure, and thankfully it was all very temporary.
As Brainstory kicked off the main stage acts in the afternoon, any logistical woes soon faded. “This ain’t LA,” lead vocalist and guitarist Kevin Martin declared, referring to the location of the festival. Hailing from the Inland Empire, Brainstory celebrated the fact they were locals at a festival that gets compared to another Riverside County success story you might’ve heard of — Coachella.
But for all of Coachella’s greatness, Desert Daze is truly a musician’s festival, a notion cemented as Psychedelic Porn Crumpets took the main stage in their first North American festival appearance since Desert Daze 2019.
“[Desert Daze] is the best. It’s the No. 1,” said PPC guitarist Luke Parish in an interview before their set. “The lineups are the biggest in the world for alternative music.”
The Australian five-piece outfit tore into their set with aplomb, with tracks like “Lava Lamp Pisco” and “Acid Dent.” “We definitely land on the heavier, darker tracks for the live set,” guitarist and keyboardist Chris Young told us. Bouncier numbers like “Tally Ho” and “Mr. Prism” paired with their more sprawling tunes such as “Found God in a Tomato” and the popular “Cornflake.” Their technical proficiency paired with a never-take-themselves-too-seriously ethos make them a Perth export deserving of the world stage.
Across the way, L.A. Witch performed their surfy, garage-rock brand of psych on the Beach Stage. Getting to said stage from the main proved to be a trek, but one worth making amid the picturesque backdrop of Lake Perris at golden hour.
Sky Ferreira arrived on the main stage a fashionable 30 minutes late. Dressed in a trench and sunglasses like she was auditioning for “The Matrix” — perhaps that would explain her tardiness — she offered up a mumbled mea culpa and found her footing near the close of her time.
The mood noticeably changed as the sun set and the darkness revealed the liquid light shows that clad the Moon and Block stages, courtesy of visual artists including Mad Alchemy. Instead of the typical monitor-like screens that showcase the performers, the Block Stage featured flowing sheets over the crowd that projected trippy visuals of colors and shapes, with the occasional band silhouette. While visually appealing, it also served to bring people in closer and experience the music in a more intimate fashion. The screens on the Moon Stage offered cerebral visuals throughout performances, complementing the music while giving those who had partaken in hallucinogens an absolutely wild ride.
Babe Rainbow was the first band to make use of the full night vibe on the Block Stage, and they did not disappoint with their elegant blend of ‘60s style psych wrapped in a surf aesthetic.
French jazz fusion masters Cortex completely elevated the already stellar level of musicianship on the Beach stage while Chicano Batman swerved and swooned on the main. The L.A. band has a sound all its own, but it was bassist Eduardo Arenas who stole the set when he took over lead vocals for one track, sung entirely in Spanish. After, they played a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep,” easily one of the most authentic to the original recording as we had ever heard.
Headliners King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard — practically the Desert Daze house band at this point with so many appearances — completely shattered the serenity of the night, opening their set with the galloping, sludgy “Gaia,” followed by the bludgeoning “Planet B,” a track that would delight even the most ardent thrash enthusiasts with its grueling double bass drum intro and frenetic, staccato guitar riffs.
The genius of KGLW is their ability to expertly navigate myriad sonic landscapes. “Magenta Mountain” and the live debut of the new song “Iron Lung” counterweighted their heavy virtuosity with jazz, fusion, and more vibey psych elements. Ever the consummate performer, guitarist, and vocalist Stu Mackenzie leaped into the audience during their final song “The Dripping Tap,” crowd-surfing to the lake and back. It was a monumental close to one of the most highly anticipated sets of the weekend.
Across the grounds, Perfume Genius took the Beach Stage during the King Gizz set. However, unknown difficulties led to a delayed start, kicked off by a recorded message from Karen O. Whatever happened led to a palpable feeling of disconnect when the music began. However, Mike Hadreas has the songwriting power and charisma as a performer to overcome it.
For the DD diehards, the night continued well past Gizzard’s 1 a.m. wrap with Mild High Club, Snapped Ankles and a DJ set from Nosaj Thing. Campers were also treated to performances exclusively for them from Acid Dad and — if you didn’t snap your ankles (to be clear, we don’t think that’s how that band works) — Mauskovic Dance Band.
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