The new location of Moreno Beach in Lake Perris for the seventh annual Desert Daze Festival was really something—to those who were able to get onto the grounds on Friday. Festival-goers waited two-plus hours in their cars just to get on the grounds due to poor line management. At around 10:25 p.m. a storm decided to headline the rest of the night, cutting Tame Impala’s set short as staff asked that everyone back away from the stage and seek shelter. The storm didn’t waver, and about six hours of scheduled acts weren’t able to perform including Tame Impala, Connan Mockasin, Wand, Lumerians and more.
The waterfront setting, art installations and stage layout were like a scene from a Desert Daze dream. The three main stages were spaced out nicely, making it easy to catch the acts you wanted. Although people were reportedly waiting to be let into the grounds through the evening, getting inside the grounds and seeing all the incredible bands on Friday’s bill would definitely help forget and forgive the wait.
By sunset, dark clouds started heading for the beach, and by the time Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats were playing, lightning strikes were visible on the horizon. The rain continued on as headliner Tame Impala took the stage. The crowd didn’t seem to mind as they packed near the front of the stage and sang along to “Let It Happen.” Despite Tame Impala’s set being cut short, there was plenty to enjoy before the storm.
Warpaint gave a stunning performance of old and new songs on the main “Moon Stage” and had the crowd dancing to “So Good.” “You guys are so lucky you’re not in traffic… good job getting here!” Singer Theresa Wayman said to the crowd. The crowd nodded and sang along to “Love Is To Die,” and Emily and Theresa took turns taking the lead vocals, but magic happened when all three women harmonized.
In the Theater Tent, U.K. punk band Idles was getting the crowd energized. A pit was fully formed in the front center of the crowd. “IDLES” projected behind the stage to the singer’s dismay, and he asked for the projection to be taken down so he could see the crowd. They performed many songs from their latest album Joy As An Act Of Resistance which actually is all about self-love and acceptance despite its tone. The crowd joined with fists in the air for “Danny Nedelko” and “Television.” Things got really rowdy when the guitarists, one simply donning underwear, got into the crowd for some participation and later invited the crowd to the stage and even had a young girl play his guitar.
Jarvis Cocker had a lot to say to the crowd at the Block Stage. “What are you afraid of?” he asked the crowd. One of the crowd members said “failure,” to which Jarvis responded, “the voices, that part of your brain is not you.” The Pulp former frontman was highly engaging with the audience, taking many opportunities to ask questions between songs. “Who’s been swimming?” he asked, “is it cold? …Cold water is like failure…” he went on to compare dipping one’s toe to the first essential moment of starting something you’re afraid of. The band played a couple new songs they hadn’t performed live before in addition to Pulp and original songs.
A performance that was certainly headliner-worthy was Australia’s Pond who had the crowd singing and dancing along in the afternoon. They played crowd favorites including “300000 Megatons” and “Paint Me Silver” as well as some new, more jam-y songs. “We’ve never tried that before!” singer Nick Allbrook said about new songs, “Burnt Out Star” and “Sixteen Days.” “Waiting Around for Grace” had the whole crowd forming their own dance parties and jumping around to the upbeat song. And a real treat was seeing an earlier performance with Gum, a duo of members from Pond and Tame Impala playing their own electro-forward psych music. Gum released their album The Underdog earlier this year, a dreamy yet danceable album that’s in the same realm as Pond and Tame Impala. “The Blue Marble” is a prime example of the work they’re putting out there.
Another highlight was a fun and charming performance from Madrid-based garage rock group, Hinds, who incorporated little dance routines and rituals in their show that won over the crowd. Hinds also released a new album this year, I Don’t Run and they performed song off the album including “The Club” and “Tester.” Singer Carlotta Cosials let her voice rip into some screams much to the crowd’s enjoyment. During “Castigadas En El Granero,” the women posed with the synchronistic guitar part. The crowd danced along to the dreamy, surf rock sounds.
In fact, there were at least three all-female bands on the bill this Friday, including Warpaint, Hinds and L.A. Witch. L.A. Witch was another garage-rock highlight with frontwoman Sade Sanchez adding lengthy jam intro and outros to some of their tracks, including the slow, soulful “Baby in Blue Jeans.”
The aesthetic was both dreamy and trippy, with most of the stage lighting consisting of static-y rainbow patterns or projections of the band members up close. The stages were decorated with glittering silver streamers and white cloths that held the visuals nicely. The “flags” of white cloths between the Theater and Moon stages fluttered in the breeze, and the sunset through the clouds made you feel like this was the place to be.
While the first day of Desert Daze has faced its share of issues, some of which were uncontrollable, day two is set to move forward with some more killer shows from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Slowdive and more.
Photo Credit: Marv Watson