The 2018 Friday night experience of Desert Daze campers , many hailing from sparsely rained-on south Californian communities is something unlikely to be forgotten. For thousands, it was an extremely difficult night in a camp ground yet, for those who endured, it was a hazing for one of the most memorable and interactive artistic events in memory.
For all the hunger, soaking shirts and blown-over tents, those who survived came out stronger and would be rewarded with an irreplaceable artistic experience. After all, power and amenities were just a short drive away in the city of Perris. For all of the inconvenience, Desert Daze got back on its feet within half a day on their own accord. Touring schedules ultimately forbad any of Friday’s evening artists from making up their sets but Saturday’s lineup provided plenty to sink one’s teeth into.
Saturday afternoon, Mercury Rev’s performance of Deserter Songs sounded absolutely epic, reverberating over the lake Perris beach. Jjuujjiuu crashed through a particular bombastic set, which despite one or two sound issue by the previous night’s rain, cranked in at full intensity as large, inflated space balls launched through to the audience. Bouncing through the colored beams of the Block Stage projections of the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show, Jjuujjuu’s continued multi-media experimentation and (not to mention recent touring with Primus) made the band’s set all the more chaotic and enjoyable.
On the Main Stage, Chelsea Wolfe and Slowdive each crafted their own vibrantly different atmospheres to an audience dampened in size by the previous night’s storm but warm in spirit. Back on the Block Stage, Kikagaku Moyo, a forward thinking 5-piece from Japan that utilizes an electrified sitar and profoundly dynamic instrumental shifts, delivered a set nothing short of phenomena.
Visually highlighted by the exquisite changing artwork of the Mad Alchemy Light Show, with drifting pastel colors accenting Kikagaku Moyo’s drifting fluid, jazz-rock infused journeys meandered from pleasing bouncing melodies to exquisitely fiery instrumentations. Kikagaku Moyo are a band that has clearly and confidently defined its own genre while continuously surpassing their best efforts on each release
Kikagaku Moyo is playing at their best and can only be expected to get better. Wooden Ship’s following set, displayed a similarly confident yet diverse style of modern psych rock to a back panel of mostly black and white projections. The Block Stage offered continuous artistic payout throughout the entirety of the festival as so many talented artists interacted with Mad Alchemy’s ever-changing, hi-def oil projections and projected canopy; even the Main Stage, with its massively impressive video wall, could not compete with the awe-inspiring Block Stage visual art.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, the best rock and roll band in the world, launched through a meaty set of career spanning psych rock. Performing favorites such as “Rattlesnake” “I’m In Your Mind” “the River” and “Robot Stop,” Stu McKenzie & company especially upped their festival game with a raucous rendition of “Crumbling Castle,” which was trailed off for several songs before a vicious reprise jam that would make Jerry Garcia himself proud.
King Gizzard have played Desert Daze for three years in a row; nobody will be disappointed if they play again next year. Having blown up themselves from afternoon-performances at psychedelic music festivals, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard remember their roots and continuously reward their faithful fans.
Back on the Block Stage, Shannon & the Clams knocked out some unexpectedly killer vibes and articulated the thoughts of the festival. “I’m sure glad to be here. Aren’t you?” quipped Shannon in a laconic and deep cutting remark. The band’s set, which included a particularly timely cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” seemed of particularly elated spirits.
Performing a late night set, Wand battled against My Bloody Valentine‘s particularly high volume sound check in the deep hours of the morning. The Block Stage, complete with projections, continued on with a diminishing audience until literal sunrise. No doubt, more attendees would have stayed out for the late night sets if there had been less weather drama the previous day. Nonetheless, the beachside party at 5:00 am under the swirling canopy of lights was a more than curious scene.