By: Shannon Hanson
Desert Daze, held at Lake Perris State Recreation Area, was a dreamy destination festival.
Heavy downpour lightning storms and live performances aren’t a good mix so unfortunately they had to shut the festival down only a few songs into Tame Impala’s set, the big headliner festival goers were looking forward to. Funny how it just so happened to be the one time Southern California ever sees a storm. Friday parking was also a problem the staff had to work around because the new venue only had a limited amount of entrances. Desert Daze staff sent out a statement about it that included this: “We also acknowledge that patrons experienced difficulties entering the venue in a timely fashion and we have been proactive in trying to resolve this…. All parties involved are confident that this new strategy for getting fans into the Moreno Beach grounds during the remainder of the festival will be faster and more efficient. Parking will remain free for the remainder of the weekend and all Friday Single Day tickets will be honored today, Saturday, October 13.”
We were prepared for the worst on Saturday, praying it wouldn’t be shut down again before sets such as Chelsea Wolfe, Slowdive and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard because of heavy rain and lightning. To our delight it only drizzled slightly and then stopped when we went into The Theater, a stage covered by a tent with a rad art installation in the back consisting of a bunch of box TVs wired together, an old arcade game where you could play Street Fighter, and vaporwave aesthetics. The crowd was finally beaming again as we all headbanged and danced around to the sweet electric sound of Cat Scan.
Chelsea Wolfe’s set was dark and you could feel the bass rumble in your chest contrasted with her beautiful voice left a very haunting feeling over the crowd. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s set was the highlight of day two for me. The music was real groovy then got into these crazy breakdowns that made you feel like you were at a metal show. The visuals were so well done to create an all engulfing environment you just couldn’t look away from. Straight from seeing them at The Moon, we ran over to see Shannon and the Clams at The Block, which looked like they put a stage in a kaleidoscope. Everyone was so smiley, dancing around and I saw a lot of couples swing dancing on the fast songs then slow dancing together when things calmed down. The atmosphere of their set was all around love and togetherness at 2am.
Sunday’s weather was absolutely perfect, giving us those sunny desert vibes we were hoping for. I just so happened to have pool tubes in my car for some random reason which was the best thing ever since the whole festival was on the beach of a lake. People were laying in the sand and splashing around to the tunes of the main stage.
DEATH GRIPS! I can’t even begin to describe how crazy the energy of this crowd was. It went from hippie chill vibes and then MC Ride, their vocalist brought everyone into a different head space with their experimental hip hop slappers that have a slight punk feel. They were extreme with their visuals, playing in front of an all white screen while the side screens were all glitchy. It was very fitting for the mood.
One of my favorite spaces of Desert Daze was The Sanctuary, a small dome in the middle of the festival grounds where experimental and noise artists were playing. There were some crazy modular synths laying down heavy sound. Everyone was either laying down or sitting up in a trance. It was such an intense experience. Sound Bath was like a noise cleanse to your soul.
The best thing was all the art installations that surrounded us. Beautiful flowing sheets, a makeshift spaceship glittered with disco balls and colorful glass, a woven patchwork teepee with creepy dolls spider webbed in to the walls, neon everywhere. At night the whole place lit up like an electric playground with people climbing all over jungle gym structures, gazing out to the distant stages. One sculpture artist had two different pieces that they combined Sunday afternoon. The main ideas of them both were long fabric strands blowing in the wind. When they were combined there was a chill vibey performance from a guy with a modular synth and a reel to reel tape recorder. Everyone was lounging around in bean bag chairs with their eyes closed, soaking up the sun and the sounds.
Even though there were some issues with Desert Daze this year because of the venue change and extreme weather, I think it was successful and I hope that the keep using Lake Perris for the upcoming years. The lake surrounded by mountains makes for a beautiful backdrop to compliment the amazing artists showcased. I’m already looking forward to next year!