Yonatan Gat- photo by Kayla Clancy
Desert Daze 2016 Joshua Tree, CA- 10/14-16
Along a desert highway rests the Institute of Mentalphysics. It is a land where the moon rises over a gradient, beacon of rainbow sky and Joshua Trees. As October 14th arrives, the grounds transform into a psychedelic institution for Desert Daze.
The great sundial in the sky signals the start. Sloppy Jane performs colorful, mad song-stories. It is like tripping straight down the rabbit hole with grungy-rock theatrics.
When the sun falls, the liquid light shows begin. Three overhead projectors emit a dance of color onto a large, triangle screen. The result is an analog, psychedelic light show.
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down offer a high-energy set. She is a radical, female rocker with soulful, free-verse vocal delivery and eclectic beats.
Afterwards, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard start rocking so hard that a dust storm forms in the mosh pit. Hard, garage-rock riffs incinerate the groove train into motion. Their new tracks have a psychedelic-metal feel. The intricacy of every song tells a story. One moment a solo rides like a magic carpet straight into the abyss, and the next, gently cruises up through a mellow, harmonic jam like ‘River’.
As day two begins, Wand grooves amidst daytime clouds. It is a blend of chill psych-fuzz, and hard-rock. Crowd surfers ride the waves of a pleasant mosh pit.
Later in the night Thee Oh Sees destroy the Moon stage. The two drummers form a rock powerhouse. Choppy, cadenced riffs lay the foundation for verses. Tension builds and explodes with intense electric guitar.
In the tent stage a circle is forming around Yonatan Gat as they rock out on a small platform. What a killer, unexpected performance. The drum, bass, and guitarist work together like one mind to create psychedelic jazz with world music groove.
In the sanctuary hall, there is a multimedia dance performance by WIFE which is mind-blowing. Colorful, haunting imagery projects onto the bodies of three dancers as different sounds fill the room. It is a radical sensory experience.
Connan Mockasin mellows the vibe with jazzy songs and down-tuned guitar. He conducts the audience as a choir to harmonize with him. The feel is floaty and dreamy.
Across the grounds Godspeed You! Black Emperor is closing out the night. The dark instrumentals hypnotize with dense unity.
When day three strikes, POND offers the most unique sound on the main stage. There are musical elements from the sixties, seventies, and eighties all rolled into one big modern ball of POND. This glam-psych-dream-rock is incredibly danceable and groovy. The whole band is smiling and bopping around. Frontman Nick Allbrook delivers introspective, honest lyrics in a way that is colorful and relatable. This music sounds like pure imagination constantly shifting into one big, beautiful dream.
Before the festival comes to a close Dead Meadow electrify all with a deep, dissociative sound of thick psychedelia and hard rock. Television plays their post-punk classics on the main stage, like “Marquee Moon,” and Brian Jonestown Massacre close it out with a nearly three hour set.
The rainbow rings around the full moon signal the end of a truly incredible, experiential weekend of music. No doubt about it man; all are Desert Daze’d.