On the second day of Desert Daze, the sun seemed to beat down just a bit harder in Joshua Tree. The majority of the festival attendees were present at this time, as the camp site was now even more filled and the Moon stage drew crowds backed up all the way to the top of the hill.
Dream-pop outfit Winter were setting up at the Block Stage around 2:00 p.m. The crowd started filling in and the female-fronted act opened with the dreamy song, “Alligator” and the audience stood and watched or swayed around in a mellow fashion. “I’d like to dedicate this one to my cat Zoe,” front woman Samira Winter shared with the crowd before diving into “Someone Like You.” They finished their set with “Jaded,” a fuzzy, grunge-y jam that had the women all hovering around the drum set at one point.
Over at the Moon Stage, Mr. Elevator was performing an instrumental psych rock jam that drew in a large crowd. Songs like “Nico” and “My Purple I” had the crowd dancing to the ‘60s style sounds that went on like one big, never-ending dance party. While they did play some slower tracks, the faster ones got a lot of dust kicked up from the crowd who didn’t seem to mind enduring the heat to be front and center.
The band Camera performed a drawn-out, jam set that started and ended with what sounded like birds chirping over at the Block Stage. In their forty-minute set, they never uttered a word to the audience — the trio just kept their heads down and played repetitively, adding only one or two new elements to the sound at a time. The drummer altered his drums’ sounds at times, placing a cymbal or cloth directly on the head before continuing to hit it. When the beat grew louder and faster, the crowd cheered.
“This song is about replacing gun stores with book stores,” Thurston Moore said. He shared this with the growing crowd at the Moon Stage before performing “Cease Fire,” and it was sonically similar to catching a Sonic Youth show when they were still together. His punk attitude and energy carried through to the crowd, who nodded vigorously along to their set. After a softer song, “Smoke of Dreams,” an audience member had thrown a copper heart onto the stage, which one of the band members put in his pocket after Moore acknowledged the audience member. He closed the set with “Aphrodite,” announcing, “This one is for the goddesses,” before starting the dissonant intro to the song.
At the Wright Tent, JJUUJJUU were performing their dreamy psych rock. The tent was filled to the brim to see the band of Desert Daze founder, Phil Pirrone, who also shared his gratitude for the festival-goers who helped make Desert Daze possible speaking through a reverb-soaked microphone. During one of their more dance-worthy songs, “BLECK,” a group of dancers wearing shiny, colored streamers danced on the lower half of the stage. Pirrone’s vocals laid over the moving bass line and screeching guitars ethereally and floated very much in the background.
Sleep was a crowd favorite of day two. Performing Holy Mountain in full, this set was a must see for any metal fans in attendance. The nine-track 1993 album was known by many in the audience who sang along to the booming vocals of Al Cisneros, a heavyset man with a long graying beard, who along with fellow band members Matt Pike and Jason Roeder, played his instrument with much vigor. During “Evil Gypsy/Solomon’s Theme,” the crowd in front head-banged violently, crowd surfed, threw beer in the air and threw beach balls high in the sky. For “Some Grass” the guitarist picked up an acoustic guitar and played a 48-second bluegrass “intermission,” that the crowd cheered for. The fast, punk pace of “Inside The Sun,” drew a mosh pit that kicked up dust and made the crowd go wild.
Back at the Wright Tent, another Animal Collective founding member Avey Tare performed an acoustic and electric set playing from his latest release Eucalyptus. “PJ” started softly with acoustic guitar, accompanied by colorful visuals with a heron pattern in the backdrop. The song led into an electronic track after that, and the theme appeared to be mixing soft and subtle with heavy and loud sounds that had the crowd moving.
For those who weren’t heading immediately to see King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Imaad Wasif at the Mystic Bazaar tent within the Desert Daze campground was a calmer alternative. The audience on the rug-laden floor was intimate and casual, and the rugs created the perfect opportunity to sit down and rest one’s tired feet. The trio started their folk and psych rock set and drew in a few more campers. Before diving into “Isolation,” Wasif shared, “Desert Daze… I grew up out here so it’s like a visitation… there’s lots of weirdos around… but I do feel I owe a lot to my past and what’s out here.” “Isolation” was a haunting, stripped song that showcased the delicate nature of his voice. The crowd filled in a bit and took a seat, watching intently. “Oceanic” was another soft and dreamy track that had a ‘70s feel to it. With five minutes left, Wasif shared, “five minutes to go into the headspace of your mind,” before taking the time to showcase his guitar skills in the final song.
All the way across the festival grounds at the Block stage, John Cale of the Velvet Underground was getting ready to perform an experimental set. “Hello desert people!” he addressed the crowd cheerfully. He performed some electronic experimental sounds and also more classic sounding songs such as “The Endless Plain of Fortune.” The crowd stood still mostly, watching intently. “We love you, John!” an audience member shouted, to which he responded, “I love you too.” “Leaving It Up To You” was a more somber track, but when he started to play classic Velvet Underground song “I’m Waiting For the Man,” the crowd really responded and came to life.
On the way to the Wright Tent, Iggy Pop was beginning his performance at the Moon Stage and was already rolling through “Passenger” to a packed audience that was ever-growing. Black Moth Super Rainbow had been playing to a medium-sized but devoted crowd at the Wright Tent. Their auto-tuned, robotic sounding vocals and dance beats had the crowd moving. The heavy psych sounds even had the lit-up carrot someone was hoisting in the air in a fun headbang. Geometric shapes, green and pink lights and heavy fog were seen on the stage’s backdrop.
Iggy Pop’s set was going strong back at the Moon stage. During “Search and Destroy” the whole front areas of the packed audience waved their hands and fists. “Let me see everybody!” Iggy Pop said. The stage lights shone on the entire audience who raised their hands to be seen. They played “Gardenia” and got the whole crowd dancing. During the faster paced songs, the crowd kicked up a bunch of dust, waving fists in the air, crowd surfing and reaching for Iggy Pop who, shirtless and in low rise jeans, moved around constantly, engaging with the audience with punk rock energy. “I know one thing,” he said. “It’s that I’m a wild one,” before they dove into “Real Wild Child (Wild One).” “Who lives here? Who drove from Hollywood? That’s fucking nice.” Iggy Pop replied to the cheers from the questions he elicited. He closed the set with “1969,” introducing the song before sharing that he was 21 years of age during that year.
Twin Peaks closed the night at the Block Stage to a crowd that continued to filter in during their set. The Chicago native garage rock group delivered a high energy set, as it was clear that these young men were just getting their night started. The audience proved that they still had some energy left in them as well as they danced, moshed and crowd surfed at any given opportunity. Perhaps the highlight of their set was in one of their slower songs, “Wanted You,” which the singer sang with soul and intent, feeling every last word. Upbeat songs like “Walk to the One You Love” got the crowd moving, and the energy and enthusiasm of the band transferred easily to the audience. They closed their set with “Dead Flowers,” a Rolling Stones cover that started several mosh pits.
The night ended on a high note, and some of the crowd lingered to revel in the art installations at the nearby Sanctuary Hall, headed out of the festival grounds or back to camp. Day three and the final day of Desert Daze will close out the festival on a more mellow note with Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions and Spiritualized.
File photo by Raymond Flotat