Relive Desert Daze 2019: A Trip Into The Familiar and Unknown
One doesn’t fully know what to expect leading into any music festival, especially Desert Daze. With last year’s thunderstorm debacle cutting Friday short and sending everyone into a frenzy, all had high hopes for a smooth operation this time around. We definitely got what we deserved – three picturesque days of perfect weather that made for the best weekend ever, for many.
Everyone had their own handful of artists that they were looking forward to seeing the most, but it is essential for one to leave room for inspirational surprises and a fresh sense of discovery from new artists. Even with hindsight being 20-20, it’s impossible to pick just one favorite from this past weekend. We wish we could include everyone in our list, as each artist brought something special to take away from their performances, but at the end of the day, it’s all love. Here are some of our favorite sets from Desert Daze 2019:
– Post Animal: The chemistry that these guys have formed over the years was on full display as they parlayed an incredibly tight set. “Gelatin Mode” hit all the right spots, from pop-sensible agile riffs, all the way to a sludgy breakdown that had everyone and their mama head-banging.
– The Flaming Lips: The entirety of The Soft Bulletin was a valiant effort on behalf of Wayne Coyne and co. to perform, all the while engaging the crowd with confetti and chromate balloons, constantly beckoning his subjects, “Come on! Come on! Come on!” Ultimately, the set was a master class in stage presence and audience interaction, with just enough vulnerability for all to truly connect.
– Altin Gun: Funking it up and providing a much-needed groove to soothe Friday’s hangover and cut a rug early in the day on Saturday, Altin Gun brought the dynamic virtuosity which they are quickly becoming associated with. A diverse range of worldly influences was sure to please. Be sure to catch these Turkish psych-rockers on their current US tour.
– Surfbort: Led by the raucous and impassioned antics of singer and Gucci muse Dani Miller, Surfbort stormed through their blistering set with their trademark blase bravado. We could all relate to not being able to find one’s shit, as well as high anxiety and sex.
– DEVO: We had the pleasure of running into Tony Hawk, who told us that he made his first Desert Daze trip to see none other than Viagra Boys and Devo, who were rumored to be playing their last show ever. A set filled with costume changes and video interludes wowed the crowd, evoking nostalgia and somehow feeling more contemporary than ever. If these guys are truly done, it would be a damn shame. Considering the impressions that their set made, a DEVO tour would undoubtedly blow minds and spark uncontrollable grins.
– Temples: Infectious melodic riffs, strong pulsating grooves and James Bagshaw’s airy and mind-penetrating vocals all meshed into a set performed with great gusto and magnitude. The robust sound of the Block Stage’s system – adorned with the Mad Alchemist’s Liquid Light Show – provided the perfect format for Temples’ heavier, fuzz-laden moments to thrive. Highlighted was the live communication of tracks off their latest record, Hot Motion.
– Nick Hakim: Nick provided a voice of reason to onlookers, making them feel more apart of his soul than separate from the stage. An expanding and contracting band added an element of surprise and sense that made every turn an exciting one. With vocal runs that sometimes delineated towards the purely aural and primitive, no meaning was lost as it was quite clear that this man was speaking universal truth.
– Flying Lotus: If there’s one word to describe Flying Lotus’ performance, it would be “entrancing.” Show goers were equipped with 3-D glasses, and FlyLo took them all on a journey filled with peaks and valleys, even whipping out some delectably abrasive Captain Murphy cuts. In many ways, it was the perfect representation of a “you would’ve had to be there” moment. Although maintaining an enigmatic and benevolently formidable persona on stage, Ellison was all smiles and hugs backstage after blowing the collective minds of those in attendance.
– Khruangbin: With a name derived from the Thai word for “airplane,” Khruangbin undoubtedly took off and soared through the souls of all there to behold. Despite a simplistic three-piece setup involving limited lead vocals, the lovely (and rapidly escalating) group from Houston, Texas dazzled onlookers, perceivably leaving nothing to be desired. Even more special – it was bassist’s Laura Lee’s birthday.
– Wu-Tang Clan: “We out here in the desert! We didn’t even know about this shit…” admitted RZA, taking a breath in the middle of Wu-Tang’s set that saw them perform 36 Chambers and many other hits. The environment might have initially seemed out of place for the iconic Staten Islanders, but once they settled in, all fell into place. We may be more acquainted with seeing Wu-Tang perform to uncontrollably rowdy crowds, but those in attendance were nonetheless extremely present and provided the space that these legends needed to shine. In a gracious act of solidarity, Wu-Tang led a cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together,” a moment Sean Lennon later warmly recalled as “beautiful.” A major highlight of the set was “Khruang-Tang” as Khruangbin contributed their Shaolin iterations making us all wonder, “why haven’t they been playing together all this time?”
Strangely enough, Wu-Tang and Khruangbin provided the perfect tie to such an all-encompassing festival that spanned so many genres, emotions, and feels. Despite their contrasting routes and upbringings, both were able to mesh perfectly, which is a macrocosm of the festival as a whole.
With each set, the finely-tuned and curated lineup directed our perceptive states to adapt to each vibe and vision that every artist presented. Sometimes one may have felt unorthodox, and other times in the right place to be surrounded by like-minded individuals, either compounding on each others’ similarities or reconciling different points of view for a deeper understanding. Even if just for one weekend, we were all where we needed to be.
Stay tuned to Milk for more festival recaps.