Desert Daze was a haze, not only due to the drugs clouding people’s minds but due to the massive amounts of dust creating a thin layer of brownish grey in the air, in everyone’s hair and stuck on skin. The whole festival—held in Mecca, CA, two hours south of L.A.— had a general organizational grit to it. Will-call wasn’t checking names and just handing out wrist bands to the campers forced to carry their gear through the festival, some even setting tents up near the party stage. Many audience members jumped barricades with ease. But it’s hard to blame the security for failing at their jobs when it was discovered that many of them were not given a break since starting work at 11 a.m., and hadn’t even gotten a chance to eat by 9 p.m. that evening.
While the day’s performances were filled with a chill energy and the whole festival had an easygoing vibe, Vincent Gallo’s set, which started close to 1 a.m., was probably too chill for the exhausted fest goers. Some drunk and agitated attendees even started shouting criticisms at Gallo for putting them to sleep. Although Gallo had wanted his set to be later to make it harder for people to photograph him, and even had security deterring photography, festival programmers would have been wiser to put a higher energy band like Deap Vally in that late time slot.
Speaking of Deap Vally, the female rock duo had a wonderful set filled with dancing, child fans and Moon Block Party members on stage to dance and back them up on vocals. These ladies seemed comfortable in the desert air probably due to the fact that their first show ever was at the desert venue of Pappy and Harriet’s. The only real hiccup for Deap Vally was that right as they were getting ready to play, guitarist Lindsey Troy had to use the Porta-Potti and couldn’t find her setlist. Otherwise, most band’s had smooth sailing, though Autolux started a half hour late due to technical difficulties with its keyboard, resulting in Autolux guitarist Greg Edwards cutting into his wife Raveonettes singer/bassist Sharin Foo’s set.
Some fun garage bands dotted the day, like Night Beats and Allah-Las, and DIIV’s epic synth-rock fit the big sky scene. The day also featured vintage clothing stalls, an instillation from The Jive Joint, food trucks with lines almost as long as the line of cars you had to survive to park outside the fest and a hidden pie stand that was incognito amongst the clothing. Although everyone passed out in the campgrounds during either Liars or Vincent Gallo’s set without partying the night away underneath the perfectly clear starry sky, people could be found slugging Sailor Jerry and planning where to eat breakfast at 7 the morning after.
Photos by Annie Lesser.