It was dripping hot, it was dustier than a desert ghost town, and it was absolutely glorious. About two and a half hours East of Los Angeles, deep into the desert boondocks of the armpit of California (aka Mecca, CA), the annual Desert Daze was taking its course at the Sunset Ranch Oasis. Although Grimy Goods has been covering the festival since its inception, this was my first time ever attending. I had heard great things, and seen our past coverage via the talented Dominoe Farris-Gilbert, but I myself had never attended Desert Daze. I was always either traveling for my birthday (since it falls around the same time) or just too busy running Grimy Goods.
Right from the start, I was totally enamored by the 2015 Desert Daze lineup. Not only did they have The Budos Band and Dan Deacon slated to perform, but an entire hive of incredible Los Angeles bands were also on the bill (Plague Vendor, Kim & The Created, Warpaint, Gap Dream, Jesus Sons…). Although the headliners were impressive, the day acts were much more appealing to my musical tastes.
Kim and The Created
Upon arriving to Desert Daze and quickly setting up camp along a small lake (pond), I threw on an extra layer of my lavender hippy deodorant (praying don’t fail me today), and my fiancée and I grabbed our gear and headed to the festival to catch Kim and The Created. With her contagious energy, it was a stellar way to kick off the uncomfortable dust bowl that was Desert Daze.
Kim’s wild stage show was intoxicating (watch here). She worked the stage like a panther, rolling around and jumping about the stage before taking her show into the crowd. Fans were eating Kim and The Created up, and you can tell Kim and the band were definitely vibing off their energy. Not to mention, for the first time, Kim fiercely rocked a nude upper half. Well, not exactly nude, she had black body paint all over her upper torso, but it was pretty ballsy nonetheless. It was an incredible performance and made me put away my worries of possible having stinky pits and a few layers of dust in my lungs.
After grabbing a topper on my cocktail and downing a boxed water, we made our way to Plague Vendor. These guys absolutely tore shit up (watch here). The entire band brought their hardcore A-game to the desert, but frontman Brandon Blaine especially delivered. His possessed-like vocals could cut diamonds, and his dance moves were reminiscent of a young Iggy Pop.
Up next we caught White Lung, led by the stunning Mish Way. Her stage presence and vocal prowess was powerfully attractive. Clad in leopard leggings and a black T-shirt, she owned the stage like it was nobody’s business. Playing the bass, yet another female powerhouse, was Lindsey Troy of Deap Vally. It was moving to see two inspiring women in rock, working to together and fully owning it (watch here)
We caught a bit of Bass Drum of Death before having to cut out to shoot a video interview. Fans were head-banging to their heavy riffs and it was clear that they had attracted one of the more sizable crowds during the day.
Bass Drum of Death
While Bass Drum of Death raised our blood pressure with their high octane performance, Psychic Ills took us on a chill ride through the desert at the perfect golden hour. The vibe was mellow, but the music was transcending.
At this point in the day, where the sun is near setting, we are now a few cocktails and beers deep. The combination of video interviews and live coverage is getting hectic, but we’re loving it. During DIIV’s set my buzz was pretty on point. The sun was setting and the band just riffed away into the sun. I saw a dusty Sky Ferreira next to me backstage cleaning off her skin with wet wipes as she watched her man, Zachary Cole Smith take fans on a thrill ride. The crowd was swaying so hard, I almost got dizzy.
The sun finally set and the night was touched by the brilliant glow of a full moon. Things got a bit fuzzy here as we had now fully immersed ourselves into having a good time with our friends and just absorbing all the good vibes. Our final video interview was complete, and we were ready to let loose.
Chelsea Wolfe was mesmerizing in her white flowing dress. She was like a siren under the moonlight and we all were willfully under her spell.
About a five-minute walk down the dusty path were JJUUJJUU on the Party Stage. With a breathtaking psychedelic backdrop (created by Mad Alchemy) that protruded in the high desert wind, JJUUJJUU took us to another world. It was an unreal psychedelic jam that couldn’t have been better suited in any other environment (watch here).
On the same stage, Deap Vally and Fever The Ghost put on some mind-blowing performances. Lindsey Troy of Deap Vally looked amazing in her Evel Knievel-eque jumpsuit, while drummer Julie Edwards pummeled away in front of a psychedelic projection that appeared as another dimension. At one point I though she was going to be swallowed into a black hole. It was a dazzling visual.
Fever The Ghost
Fever The Ghost were both visually and aurally captivating, and made things even fuzzier for us. We had to rush back to the main stage to catch some of Dean Deacon’s performance, but we were on a happy vibe thanks to Fever The Ghost. And things were about to get more feel-good with Dan Deacon’s set.
Per usual, Dan Deacon had the fans in the palm of his hand, acting out his every word to a fun game of Simon Says. While Deacon laid down the electronic beats, he unraveled a game of dance-offs from his surprise grab bag of fun. You never know what you’re going to get at a Dan Deacon show, but you do know that it’s going to be a damn good time. And it was.
We closed our evening with a sweet performance by Warpaint, and naturally the crowd was enamored. Even more so when Theresa threw herself into the crowd for a surf. Before Warpaint we had also caught a bit of Failure, but didn’t really give them much of our time since they were too cool for press photos and video. They specifically asked that no press shoot them (which happens, but…). I think they also forgot how to be timely, seeing as they went on 15 minutes past their set time and delayed Warpaint while shortening their set. We also caught a hot five minutes of Minus The Bear and it was indie rock guitar mayhem.
It’s now nearing 1am and we are beyond exhausted. My knees and feet ache, and my hair is caked with dust giving it a Brillo pad-feel, but I’m ecstatic. Desert Daze was a beautiful experience; intimate in size, but huge on unique sounds and vibes (and beautiful people). The music was an exceptional array of all the flavors we love, and we made some new friends at our camp ground. And for once in my life, I attended a music festival where I wasn’t annoyed by 80 percent of the crowd. Nobody put a damper on my music experience, which unfortunately I can not say the same for other larger festivals.
Desert Daze has a gorgeous essence. It brings back that raw and real music festival experience. Something that many music festivals have lost over time.
Things To Note:
Set times. We missed a couple bands we really wanted to see (Gap Dream and Jesus Sons) due to an early start in set times on the Jive Joint Stage. We were unaware of the change in set times. So that sucked.
Budos Band did not play the festival, and I was crushed. That is who I wanted to see most. But, you can’t help the fact that there was a death in the family and they had to cancel their show. We hope all is well with the band and their family.
Desert Daze needs better organization on the camping scene. It was somewhat a free-for-all regardless of what campsite you paid for.
Damn. That dust. There are no grassy areas at Desert Daze (except for the artist village), and all that foot-traffic in bare dirt/dust is like reliving the dust bowl.
Porta Potties. I don’t even want to go there! But I will say, I prefer just digging my own hole.
Stay tuned for our mini festival documentary from Desert Daze 2015! In the meantime, check out our photos below from Desert Daze.
Words: Sandra Burciaga
Photography: Bryan Olinger / Sandra Burciaga
Want more photos from Desert Daze 20115? Check out the photo gallery below!