Desert Daze was the best line up I have ever witnessed and included nearly 100 bands. It had a vibe which can expand the mind into new unique sonic and visual experiences. Standout performance were delivered by The Black Angels, Thee Oh Sees, Bombino, Yonatan Gat, Night Beats, Brian Jonestown Massacre, L.A. Witch, La Luz, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Temples, Suuns, Dead Meadow and more. Throughout the weekend the liquid light projections were swirling in vivid color employing several projectionists for a single performance. The venue was in Joshua Tree California at The Institute for Mentalphysics filled with spiny cactus, Joshua Trees sprawling across the beautiful and other worldly landscape. The site is said to be a metaphysical energy vortex stimulating mind altering experiences. With cactus, tarantulas, and scorpions boots are needed.
Thee oh Sees brought it with an earth shaking set of weird surf acid punk. With two drummers, bassist and out of this world guitar playing. The energy was intensely driven forcing the audience to jump, shout, dance, flee and left some staring with their head cocked and slack jawed.
The Black Angels sounded more experimental than ever with driving desert vibrations. They played Passover, an album which helped define contemporary psychedelic rock 10 years ago. I didn’t know what to expect with a band playing 10 years old material but it did not disappoint and will remain as an all-time favorite performance. Many of the songs from the album were reinterpreted and it was really something special from good ol’ Texas. Under a full moon in the desert they evoked a sense of an impromptu acid ceremony. The album as a whole is about the consequences of war and it drew then altered audience to those black rivers of consequence and shed some light upon it. The snake charming sounds got the ladies grooving and the air was heavy with a psychic haze.
Yonatan Gat was a major highlight and wins mad respect for the most energized performance. They played on a small tall stage in the center of the audience with drums, bass and guitar. It was a full on assault of beautiful guitar tones dancing between tropical sweetness and insanely fast rhythm and guitar leads. They really went for it reminded me of a championship sports game because the players were going all in. You must see it to believe it! The drummer was so incredible, the lighting, the sounds, the energy, the presentation was all just beautiful.
Bombino is so great I love his voice and great guitar playing. Bombino is among the best guitar players living on the planet today, arguably. The whole band was so good the bassist is likely the most beautiful man at the festival and he is a hell of a bass player with reggae Afro-rhythms fused with rock and blues. I loved this performance with its high energy, clear headed and joyful sound which was delivered with astounding virtuosity and soulfulness. .
Brain Jonestown Massacre was amazing, which goes without saying, they have been amazing. They played a long set with endlessly dreamy sounds great leads and awesome songs.
Temples really played a very tight and wonderful set sharing several new songs which sounded great live. They are still touring on their first album and have mastered those, almost classic songs from the debut. They added a moog synth and an arsenal of guitars on hand. They propelled the audience into deep space with the help of swirling liquid lights behind them. This was the best light show of the whole event, it was really spectacular.
Dead Meadow, Night Beats and Radio Moscow all played powerful sets with endlessly delicious guitar playing silhouetted against liquid light projections and a dusty haze. Each one of these bands delivering a stoney groove that had the audience lighting up and shaking their hips.
Feels was a new find for me, they played early on Friday and kicked it off with trippy gypsy sounds crashing into punk rock. Complete with a new song called “Fuck Trump” a theme which repeated through the weekend.
Suuns played a very psychedelic sound which was slower brooding and unique. The vocals were menacing yet restrained the guitar would drive into delayed splashy leads which slowly built between the rhythms and some heavy sections of synth.
LSD and the Search for God played the perfect set for a Sunday afternoon filled with tasty sounds and a spot on performance. they had great leads an
Glitter Wizards must be mentioned for the only full ass salute complete with bowing and worshiping wizards, it got kinda kinky in there during that final solo.
God Speed You Black Emperor! was transformative with long musical songs which challenged all musical convention and seamless weaved together a full spectrum of sounds from 9 piece ensemble. Many people in the audience were laying on the ground with eyes closed or sitting and meditating for a deeper experience of the music. Sitting there I was imagining what the people and animals thought of these crazy sounds echoing across this ancient desert landscape. I sensed that the earth and sky responded and influenced the music which was reverberating through the desert brush and leading listeners on a journey through a lucid dream.
The vendors were awesome with vintage clothing and unique Jewelry, vinyl, posters, rocks and even crowns. The food was the best I had ever had at a festival they even had filtered water. The entire event was truly a multimedia art installation at night the park would transform into an environment with projections, installations, artists, spaceships and of course non-stop great music. Camping was spacious and beautiful filled with very friendly people most of who, turned out to be musicians, writers, artists. My camping neighbors were the best!!! We all helped each other gave what we could and asked only friendship in return. It’s important to see people happy together and sharing with each other in times like these when politics is bubbling into dictatorship and global destruction. The Desert Daze 2016 was historic and by the end most were left with nothing to say because they did not want to sound unoriginal when repeating things like wow, best ever, so great, fucking awesome, amazing, delicious, incredible, holy shit that blew my mind, everyone here is the best, the music is so good, FUCK YES, MORE, never stop, they really really rocked, wow that was so good, all the music is good, ect.
Here We Go Magic
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Thee Oh Sees
The Black Angels
God Speed You Black Emperor!
LSD and The Search For God
Brain Jonestown Massacre
Article by: Temple Rose
I write about music, music gear, art, science, psychology, yoga and holistic health. See my other blogs at http://thepsychrock.com, https://psychgear.wordpress.com, https://transpersonalspirit.wordpress.com. I am a contributor to Sic Magazine (http://www.sicmagazine.net) and gigsoupmusic.com. I am a musician in the band Black Satori (https://blacksatori.wordpress.com).