Desert Daze music festival occurred earlier last month in Lake Perris, CA. Lake Perris is located 1.5 hours outside of Los Angeles and it features the most breathtaking scenery, a well-maintained campground, hiking trails, and a beautiful lake. Needless to say, I'm still daydreaming about the experience one month after the festival has been concluded.
I'm a huge Tame Impala fan, and I found out about this festival when I heard that the band was headlining the festival. Not only were they headlining, but they were going to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of "Lonerism" by playing it front-to-back at Desert Daze.
I knew that there was absolutely no way I could miss this festival not only to witness "Lonerism", but also because of how niche the festival was to psych music. I'm so happy I decided to take this trip because there were so many moments that made the festival one of the most unique experiences I've ever had. Check out my magical moments below:
The return of Sky Ferreira
Nostalgia was in the air when Sky Ferreira took the stage. This was Sky Ferreira's first North American performance since July 2019 at Pitchfork Music Festival, and before that she performed in 2017 in Detroit. On top of that, this was my first time having the opportunity to see her. I've been a fan since high school, so this was a special moment for me and many others in the crowd.
Her performances seem to be rare and sparse, so this was one for the books. Unfortunately, she was over half an hour late and wasn't given any extra time however, it was fun while it lasted with my favourite performance being "24 hours." There was a huge nostalgia factor present and her voice was stunning live.
Kikagaku Moyo's final set (indefinitely)
In full transparency, I had never heard of Kikagaku Moyo before this festival. I saw online that this would be their farewell show and it that definitely got them placed on my list of acts to see.
Once I arrived at the campground and began socializing with new friends, it became more and more evident that this was a performance I surely couldn't miss. People boasted on and on about how they were legends in the psych-rock world- true masters of their craft. As someone who is an avid lover of the genre, I couldn't believe I had never heard of them, and I feel grateful to have witnessed the show.
The desert atmosphere could not have been more perfect for this special farewell moment, and the festival was packed with excitement. Their set was inter-dimensional between their graphics and interludes that transcended audience members into a psych-rock haze.
Tame Impala playing 'Lonerism' from front-to-back
I've been a Tame Impala fan for several years and I love all of their albums just about equally. Last year during the pandemic I virtually witnessed the band play "InnerSpeaker' from start to finish live on Moment House which was thrilling, but to experience this was something else.
I love to see concerts and witness artists play beautiful curations of all of our favourite songs, but there is something special about appreciating an album in its entirety and I don't think we do this enough. Most people I know don't even listen to albums anymore, and to them, I say you're missing out! It's like looking at a painting and having certain pieces of it blacked out you aren't getting the bigger picture.
With that said, to experience the whole piece of art accompanied by thousands of people was incredibly special. This was by far the busiest evening of the festival (obviously for Tame Impala) but it was beautiful to celebrate this moment with such an excited and friendly crowd. This was an evening I'll never forget.
Now the Jelloman was something I had certainly never witnessed at any concert or festival before Desert Daze. Kurt Vile's brother Paul, also known as "Jelloman" travels around to festivals with Jell-O shots and gives them out to bands and attendees.
He spent the whole weekend moving throughout the festival on his skateboard, displaying custom Jell-O artwork for different bands playing, and even crowd surfing and handing out shots to attendees. I was lucky enough to witness him a few times throughout the weekend and gladly accepted a shot- he even put pop rocks on top (now you all have a new party trick.)
The camping could not have been more perfect for this festival. I've been camping at festivals several times and in full transparancy, it is never exactly he most ideal situations as they tend to throw thousands of people in a field and do not have the proper amount of resources (food, water, bathrooms) to supply attendees for the full weekend (if you know, you know.)
Since Desert Daze took place on actual campgrounds at Lake Perris, it was pretty ideal. There were bathrooms with REAL showers placed all over the campground which was great for safety reasons (you don't have to walk far in the middle of the night) and the amount of bathrooms available helped prevent congestion, and luckily it was never really a problem compared to other festivals where I have seen two hours lines to simply take a quick shower.
Fellow campers could have also not been more kind- the crowd that this festival brought out was so giving and helpful, and for myself, it felt like everyone around my sight quickly became friends. It made the mornings very pleasant, and the evening memorable.
The scenery at this festival was breathtaking. Having a constant view of the mountains, a lake to swim in (even while watching your favourite bands), artwork everywhere, and a market with amazing local vendors, it was just stunning.
If you love psych-rock, this is the festival for you. The lineup is absolutely next level each year and I'm so grateful that I discovered this festival. The friends I made, the memorable moments, and the nature I experienced is something I will cherish with me forever.
Written by Gemma Mastroianni.