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DESERT DAZE | MICROCOSM OF COOL

A conversation with Viagra Boys at Desert Daze music festival.

Written by

Zane Peck

Photographed by

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One day in the future, when Flying V guitars actually fly, all the young dudes will want to know where it all went down, and where all the good times were had. Like previous generations who had their Woodstocks and their California Jams, today’s generation will bear our own tales, unique from the rest. Surely, when these stories are told, the name of Desert Daze and the location of Lake Perris, California, will be one of the first to come to mind amongst all those who have their shares of good ol’ campfire tales. But what is Desert Daze? Depending on who you ask, the answer may be a little different. Most people will tell you it is a three day music festival, to which they would be correct, but in truth it is so much more. You could call it a weekend long celebration of the arts, but you would still be missing the point. The truth is, in it’s 10 years of existence, Desert Daze is a microcosm of cool on every single front. Diverse, inclusive, groovy, and tasty. So lets go over what make this entire experience so unique, so encompassing, and unlike the regular music festival.

Before we bang on about the music, as is the case with most festivals, it is important to note the location first. Lake Perris State Park is a holy grail of venues for a number of reasons. Firstly, no other festival does camping quite as well as Desert Daze. Nothing quite does it like waking up to your favourite band sound checking, getting your life together in various parts, then jumping into the lake, all under a blazing sun at 12pm. Somehow only 1-1/2 hours away from both San Diego, Los Angeles, and Palm Desert, the whole crew is invited, and there are no excuses for missing this music Mecca. The only problem is if you forgot to bring some shades and sunscreen, but if not, just go ask a friendly camper. You may even leave their camp with a cold drink, a jam session under your belt, and a new friend to catch shows with.

The lineup is always the stuff of legend. Sure, Iggy Pop couldn’t make it, but that just adds to the story. Friday got us warmed into the foray with performances from King Gizzard and Mild High Club, not to mention being blessed to enjoy 1970s jazz trio Cortex performing for their first time on the West Coast, as part of their first ever US show dates. Saturday was definitely where things got interesting, however. Wherever you turned, it seemed you just could not escape the onslaught of great bands. Despite all these great bands, it really felt like French doom band Slift’s performance was a standout showing, along with Londoners Shame, who pulled no punches with their aggressive punk act. The night closed with Kikagaku Moyo’s farewell performance, but Tame Impala was the band that had everyone talking, drawing what could only be described as a behemoth crowd as they played Lonerism in it’s full entirety. Sunday was the rest and relaxation day, as those arriving to jump in the lake were treated to the soothing sounds of Mariachi Reyna De Los Angeles…what an incredible way to set the mood. As the day carried on, BADBADNOTGOOD proceeded to absolutely smash it, followed by Levitation Room and Fuzz, who were absolutely phenomenal. It is hard to say if Ty Segall’s performance this year was as good as his solo project last year, but either way, it is always a party when Ty Segall is on stage. As bittersweet as one would expect, the festival was at its close, yet Pond delivered an absolutely magisterial performance to send us home. Or, to the closing ceremonies, where festival organizer Phil Pirrone’s JJUUJJUU gave us something special to remember.

It is not every day that you get to see some of the talent performing at Desert Daze. Although you have bands like King Gizzard, Mild High Club, and countless others who play the festival circuit, this lineup was made to peer right into the soul of every man, woman, and child in attendance, and overwhelm them with a sense of belonging and satisfaction, and having one think, “I’m at the right place, man.” Most notably, the influx of Australian bands was something to make particular note of. From the Babe Rainbow’s insanely chill aura, to Psychedelic Porn Crumpets’ off the wall showing, to headliners King Gizzard (Friday), Tame Impala (Saturday), and Pond (Sunday), it is safe to say all the heavy hitters were from down under, and we aren’t complaining. Whatever is in the water in Australia, I will take two, please and thank you.

Although all the bands in attendance deserve a golden star, one band in particular would be head and shoulders above the rest. If rock n roll was a classroom, Viagra Boys would definitely be the teacher’s pet, showing all else how it is done, and potentially even teaching the class. We got to catch up with them, and pick their brains regarding their Desert Daze experience.

How’s the weekend so far?

We just came here. We played LA last night, it was so nice. So great. We were here in 2019 and played and saw DEVO. It was really nice, and we are here again.

Tell us about the last DD you played.

It was late, and it was really really cold. and I forgot to bring a sweater, so we’re driving around in this golf cart, freezing my ass off, but the show was really nice, so much fun, especially watching it afterward.

Who are you excited to see this year?

Okay, ah, I’m excited for Lame Impala actually. I’m kidding you guys, I know you’re listening, Tame! Lonerism is a fucking great album, actually. I was really excited about DEVO. But there’s a band playing with a saxophone later tonight, so we are looking forward to that. We just met them a little while ago.

How’s your Desert Daze experience in particular?

It’s kinda different because it’s in the desert, it’s kinda free, and in that way it’s different. It’s very nice, not so big, but not so small either.

A memorable moment on tour?

Our US tour was special, coming here for the first time, and the shows were really good, they were really memorable. Seb’s from San Francisco, and coming there was special. I don’t know, it was a lot of memories. And as I’ve said, DEVO was really, really, you know, something special for me. It was something special for me.

Will you guys take a jump in the lake?

We heard it’s dangerous, we heard i was toxic. We were talking to some locals, and someone had six fingers when they came up from the water.

Sounds like an advantage, maybe you want that if you’re a guitarist.

Exactly, you could have three drum kits at the same time. Coming home to my wife with four arms.

The immaculate energy of Desert Daze is something you should never underestimate. Leaving people and places better than how they were found is exactly what this festival does. Sure there is music but there is also care and awareness, a helping hand and an open mind. Whether it was doing something crazy, like bug tasting with world renowned chef Joseph Yoon, learning about the benefits of psychedelics via the good folks at Propeller, or just conversing with the security guards and asking how their day is, everyone had a positive impact to offer. Special thanks to the Desert Daze staff for their hard work, the medical crew for making sure we all made it home okay, and all the beautiful faces in the crowd. See you next year.

TAGS

Desert Daze Viagra Boys King Gizzard Mild High Club Cortex Slift Zane Peck Tame Impala Shame Kikagaku Moyo Mariachi Reyna De Los Angeles BADBADNOTGOOD Levitation Room Fuzz Ty Segall Pond JJUUJJUU Babe Rainbow Psychedelic Porn Crumpets

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