Desert Daze is a festival that isn’t built in the desert, but rather, is born from it. Where other fests go to great lengths to create a certain on-brand ambiance that goes beyond its own grounds, Desert Daze chose simply to embrace the mystic properties that Joshua Tree itself is already notorious for.
The terrain came to life, illuminated by visual animations blasting onto gigantic trees and beams of neon color under prickly shrubs and cacti. Even the man-made structures were all very open to the gorgeous landscape and inspired by its insidious beauty.
A linen draped gazebo with a church bell served as a sanctuary for people who needed a break from the crowds or a proper meeting point for friends astray. There were various ‘living rooms’ to be found throughout the grounds that were equipped with couches and 90’s television sets – hilarious given its extrinsic value out in the middle of the fucking desert. There were teepees and rock formations. But, above all else, there was kick ass music.
Some of the best acts in contemporary rock n roll joined alongside its iconic figureheads for one hell of an affirmation that guitar-driven music is still very much alive and thriving. A specific breed of in-your-face rock and off-the-wall psychedelia that found its natural sanctuary in the eerie drylands of Joshua Tree.
Crowds came rolling down the main stage’s sloping contours as Iggy Pop erupted into “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. Spiritualized hypnotized a congregation of longtime fans and young newcomers alike with their signature gospel of swelling crescendos — while Unknown Mortal Orchestra provided a relief from the succession of face-melters by opening up the Block Stage for a much-needed dance party.
There are many reasons this festival felt so special, but the real source of that palpable magic in the air was indeed derived from the people – the festival-goers themselves. Desert Daze’s strong, yet esoteric line-up attracted so many like-minded hippies, headbangers, and grade A fucking goofballs that half of the fun was howling in laughter at the erratic conversations made with strangers turned new friends.
With that being said, I overheard some really hilarious shit spouted from the mouths of aforementioned hooligans over the course of the weekend. Here are some of my favorite quotes that I actually managed to jot down amidst all the madness:
- From the mouths of intrepid hippies stumbling through a campsite where someone was smudging their beer-can coated tarps with Palo Santo came, “Woah, holy shit that smells exactly like my time machine.”
- As Iggy took the stage, a guy with pupils the size of nickels nudges his buddy and says, “Dude they must keep Iggy Pop on ice or something to keep his body preserved. Woaaah, Iggy On Ice!! That could be his next move, dude! A musical figure skating routine — completely shirtless, singing Search and Destroy doing triple salchows and shit!”
- While shopping around through the long avenue of local vendors and their hand-crafted, artisan goods, a dude with a paisley headscarf exclaimed to his friend, “Check it out man I just got a quartz crystal for just $1.” only to be met with, “Dude, you literally just bought a fucking ROCK in the DESERT, man!”
- Amid an early mid-day set — “I feel like this festival has a ‘house tambourine player’ like…if you show up to play and you don’t have a tambourine player, one will be provided for you upon entry.” So fucking on-point. It’s a clause in the booking contract, for sure.
- “Here we go baby, prepare for liftoff” to which some chick replied, “Wait! Wait! does your spaceship come with a +1? My friend wants to come”
- Some bozo was meandering through a dense crowd of trippers with a red nose and facepaint, and some chick responded, “Hey, maybe don’t dress up like a clown at a music festival where everyone is on drugs? There are enough fucking clowns in this desert as it is, we don’t need you running around ruining everyone’s shroom trip, bro.” Agreed.