By Jason Hall
Another Desert Daze has come and gone. This year the festival solidified its reputation as arguably the best festival in Southern California. For the second year, Desert Daze was held at The Institute of Mentalphysics, and it seems to have found its groove. There is a definite energy at the festival grounds which truly helps this be a profound experience. The sheer number of amazingly talented bands and friendly people left me thoroughly exhausted. Not in a bad way. After experiencing Desert Daze, my mind and body needed a day to fully process what had happened. There a few readers who have been to Burning Man and are familiar with this feeling… this need to decompress.
Friday started with a bang. As soon as I walked in from the camping area -or better yet, got shuttled in by my savior throughout the weekend, Chantal- I immediately was introduced to the festival grounds by Holy Wave in the Wright Tent. What an absolute perfect welcoming gift. La Femme played the main stage, Moon Stage, right after Holy Wave finished. They played the stage and had a very impressive crowd. Thankfully, after this, it was time to check out local visual artist, Christopher Cichocki’s Circular Dimensions exhibit. He didn’t fail. Does he ever? Next, my (it seemed) personal driver Chantal, ferried me back to The Wright Tent. This time it was for Deap Vally. This duo rocks hard. They were definitely my Friday favorite. Entrance was next. They played in Mystic Bazaar. This was a very intimate tent and gem that most attendants missed. Ty Segal, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, and Ariel Pink finished out the night. I had no idea what I was getting into with Ariel Pink, but I was blown away. A mutual friend I met earlier in the day, Jaime, ended up being my partner in crime for the night. She made sure we saw Ariel Pink, and I’m glad we did.
Saturday started early for me; this time with my wife and toddler daughter in tow. We had to make it to see Jesika Von Rabbit perform for the first time with a full band. The full band took her talent to a new level. Thankfully, for us, it was time to rest. The best way to rest of course is to deliver a promised bottle of Gin to an artist liaison who I was introduced to as Magick Matt. It was immediately apparent how he got his name. This man was truly a magical human being. He was kind to everybody and still conveyed a “take no shit attitude.” My favorite complete stranger by far. Feeding off of Magick Matt’s energy (and gin and beer), we headed off to see Desert Daze founder, Phil Pirrone’s band, JJUUJJUU. I’d never heard them, but my wife was a huge fan. They completely melted mind’s they were so good. With no time to waste, and new friend Jaime in tow, we hauled ass to see the most exciting part of the evening… Sleep!!! I’ve seen Sleep many times (in fact, one of my wife and mine’s first official dates was a Sleep concert), but never have I seen them play their album Holy Mountain in its entirety. Another food and beer break and we went to try to catch Iggy Pop. Unfortunately, all photo passes were revoked. This along with the brewing dust storm and cranky toddler led us to miss practically all of the set. We threw in the towel for the evening.
Thankfully, Sunday could start a bit later for us. We better prepared ourselves mentally and went at it hard with another friend, Dave in tow. My absolute favorite show of the weekend was set to take the stage at 3:50. Chantal again delivered us right in time to see Dave Catching, Pete Stahl, Adam Maples, and company of earthlings? take the stage. I knew as soon as their set was over, that I had seen my favorite band of the festival. They rarely play live, and made this hometown show an absolutely perfect gig. L.A. Witch was the next band to see. They are always a pleasure. I’ve known these ladies for a while and finally got to introduce my daughter to them. They played everything from their debut album. It was quite a treat. Immediately following L.A. Witch, we booked it to Moon Stage to catch another local band, Eagles Of Death Metal. Dave Catching was on fire; especially for having double duty on Sunday. Jesse Hughes was as energetic as he’s always been. Between blistering, sexy ass rock songs, he would sometimes go into a sermon that would put Jim Bakker to shame. Jesse’s charisma is second to none. Hope Sandoval and Spiritualized were sort of second thoughts after EoDM’s set. Unknown Mortal Orchestra, however, was mind blowing. In the backstage area, it was obvious how important this band is. It seemed every musician I had seen throughout the whole weekend was backstage to check them out. They did not disappoint. If you haven’t heard of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, do yourself a favor and do so now. Finally, it was time to head back down the mountain. Little did I know, Desert Daze was not done with me. While stopping at Circle K on Hwy 62, I ran into Jesse Hughes. After the usual hug and farewell, it was apparent that something strange certainly was afoot at the Circle K.
Exhausting, beautiful, magical! Thank you Jaimie, Dave, Robbie, Magick Matt, Chantal, Phil, Iris, and Ripley for the best festival experience of my life. I can’t wait for next year… with an RV.