Desert Daze hits a stormy high during the festival’s 2018 edition @ Lake Perris, California.
Art is about peaks and valleys. This year’s Desert Daze Festival, hosted by Moon Block last weekend at Lake Perris State park, was all about peaks and valleys. The gorgeous, beach side festival grounds set the scene for a festival unforgettable in more ways than one. Featuring some massive headliners (Tame Impala, My Bloody Valentine, Death Grips, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard), festival organizers Moon Block set out to draw in new fans to the world of boutique art festivals.
Friday afternoon’s performances, wasted no time showcasing talent. Sugar Candy Mountain, a dreamy rock outfit with dazzling melody, extended a bright and otherworldly jam on their closing song “Tidal Wave.” Snapping back into the song’s melodic hook, Sugar Candy Mountain’s brilliantly matched musical turnaround triggered a collective howl of appreciation from the crowd, in time with the bright video wall curated by lighting artist Bill Gazer . The If you make it out to Desert Daze, try to show up early because the afternoons sets can be absolutely mind-blowing.
The Moon Stage, standing on the shores of Lake Perris, carried a high-powered video board that had no qualms about competing with southern Californian sunshine. Desert Daze’s commitment to visualized music is one of the qualities that sets this festival apart from the regular; high-powered visuals would occur throughout the entirety of the weekend. That being said, Yonaton Gat had no issue leaping offstage during their set to jam on a drum kit and instruments in the crowd, amongst the sand, one of the most ferocious sets of the whole festival.
After sets by Pond and Warpaint, JARV IS, a new moniker and project from the legendary Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, was introduced to the North American world on the Block Stage, an impressive yet intimate collection of curved screens and colored canopies. Jarvis Cocker basked in the swirling lights, sauntered about and offered his quintessential poetic and philosophical ramblings. Warpaint played to growing audiences trickling in from the LA traffic. At sundown, the interactive art instillations started to brighten up the commute between stages.
As the sun faded into complete darkness, silhouettes walked onto the Block Stage amongst a light of twisted, fiery red. English rockers Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, performing their sole North American 2018 concert, presented this generation’s effective redefinition of metal. Playing without stage lighting, clad entirely in shadow, Uncle Acid & the Dead Beats stated that they would destroy the audience and they made good on their promise. Juxtaposed against the swirling, ever changing light collages of the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show, Uncle Acid & the Dead Beats crafted a hell-fire inspired scene that would impress Dante himself. Washing through mammoth tones worthy of Electric Wizard and riffs befitting Pentagram, the lightning crashing through the sky on their final song “No Return” seemed as if the skies themselves were crowning Uncle Acid & the Dead Beats the new kings of metal.
The audience optimistically overlooked the storm clouds moving up in the distance for an optimistic 15 minutes in which Tame Impala played three songs from their latest record and fired off several large confetti cannons. The sold-out audience teased themselves with a short-lived atmosphere of euphoria before mother nature intervened and an emergency announcement was made by the band; lightning could be seen in the distance and hard rain was coming in; festival goers were obliged to evacuate the ground to avoid harm from any lightning strikes or electrical issues.
The severity of this emergency shut down, a legal ‘act of god’, was well appreciated by the organizers, who held out till the end but made the call before the worst of the rain hit. Storms are the ultimate music festival complication and have significantly affected events such as Levitation 2016, but ultimately the safety of the audience, artists and crew is top priority. Concerning this highly unlikely weather incident, the Moon Block team made the right call at the right time and did a commendable job getting the weekend back on schedule. Even the arid inland valleys of southern California can be hit by the occasional significant storm; for festival goers only set on seeing Tame Impala, Desert Daze would be understandably disappointing. Those attendants who stuck it out all weekend were more than rewarded by Saturday’s offerings.