New York – This weekend ushers in California’s 5th annual Desert Daze in Joshua Tree, where for three days, from October 14-16, festivalgoers from around the world will experience “what music festivals once were, while illuminating the future of what music festivals can be.” I am hoping that by the end of this weekend I will be able to correctly identify the difference between “Desert” and “Dessert” when using them in a proper sentence. I am also hoping that my mind will be absolutely obliterated by all of the psychedelic music and art that it will be taking in over the three packed days of Desert Daze in Joshua Tree, California. Here is my guide to the three frantic days at the Institute of Mentalphysics this year.
Shit to Chill Out To:
Portlandia theme composer Ernest Greene is sure to bring a dreamy synth infused set Friday night. Usually perfect for a sun drenched afternoon it will be interesting to see how Washed Out holds up in the cool desert air. It has been three years since 2013’s Paracosm, perhaps we will get some sneak peeks of a new album on the way? Catch Washed Out on the Moon Stage, on Friday, from 10:00-11:00 p.m.
Temples very easily could have been included in the “rock out” category, but the foursome’s hypnotic basslines and shimmery guitars are perfect for a sundown set in the desert. This will be only the band’s second show of the tour, and we can hopefully hear some new material. Temples just recently released a new single “Certainty,” to build hype for the as of yet un-named, un-announced follow up to 2014’s Sun Structures. Let Temples put you in a psychedelic coma over at the Block Stage, on Friday, from 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Here We Go Magic
It has been nearly a year since the Brian Eno and Robert Wyatt inspired Be Small was released on Secretly Canadian. New York based Here We Go Magic brings groovy drums that are surrounded by reverbed guitars and emphatic vocal melodies. You might find yourself in a trance listening to guitar loops, but your feet won’t stop moving. Perfect pre-cursor to the late night events on the first day. Get funky with Here We Go Magic at the Wright Tent, on Friday, from 8:00-8:50 p.m.
Mild High Club
Of course Mild High Club is scheduled to start its set at 4:20 PM. If you’ve got a medicinal card be sure to medicate before this set! The twin 12-string guitars and trip samples on stage will take you back to the days of Sgt. Pepperswhile the jazzy piano chords and riffs will have you humming melodies from recently released Skiptracing on your way to the next set. Get baked with Mild High Club at the Wright Tent, on Friday, from 4:20-5:00 p.m.
A trio of babes touting its self-described “reverb-soaked punked-out rock” sound. Overshadowed by more popular female bands of recent times, such as HAIM and Dum Dum Girls, L.A. Witch brings an unwavering sincerity to its sound, not willing to compromise style for popularity. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the L.A. band explode in the next few months. Get inside the grounds early to see L.A. Witch at the Moon Stage, on Saturday, from 2:30-3:15 p.m.
Another all female group, La Luz is straight out of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Every time I listen to them, I cannot help but picture Tarantino’s face when someone first showed him their music. The Seattle band is the perfect combination of fast paced surf and punk that he loved to add to his 90s soundtracks. La Luz’s surf rock is perfect for the California desert. Don’t miss arguably the band’s best jam “Sure As Spring,” at the Moon Stage, on Sunday, from 3:20-4:10 p.m.
Springy nostalgic psychedelic vibes from the one time Ty Segall collaborator, Tim Presley? Yes, please! Could Ty make a surprise appearance during White Fence‘s set? He’s been known to do the same with Thee Oh Sees at other festivals, such as Coachella. The projections inside the tent should be the perfect accompaniment to the laid back 60s vibes. Mosey on over to the Wright Tent, on Sunday, from 3:55-4:45 p.m.
Shit to Rock Out To:
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
The Gizz were given a longer set than other non-headliners for a reason. In another year, this Australian band will be even more massive as it continues to endlessly tour through psychedelic minds around the world. If you don’t want to mosh, don’t get close. People will be going crazy for the dual-drummer, three guitar jazz lick playing jams. Somehow, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard finds time to record a new psychedelic (and sometimes psychotic – ie: I’m In Your Mind Fuzz) album every year. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard will probably will be the highlight of many festivalgoers’ weekends after melting faces at the Block Stage, on Friday, from 11:00 p.m. – 12:10 a.m.
Suuns very well could make the roof explode off of the tent on Friday night with its explosive live performance. Sunns put on easily one of the best shows I have seen this year. Touring in support of new album Hold/Still, the Secretly Canadian electro-rockers provide an epic combination of heavy melodies and syncopated beats to create an energetic live show. You must catch Suuns at the Wright Tent, on Friday from 11:55 p.m. – 12:50 a.m.
The Black Angels (Playing Passover)
So, clearly The Black Angels isn’t a “new band,” but Best New Bands has been following The Black Angels for some time – and going back ten years to the release of its debut album, Austin based psychedelic rock band The Black Angels will surely take Passover into another dimension with hypnotic riffs over the course of ten tunes. Very excited to see how 18 minute closer “Call to Arms” plays out live. Catch The Black Angels on the Moon Stage, on Saturday, from 8:40-9:55 p.m.
Thee Oh Sees
The Oh Sees easily could have been put into the “Shit to Get Weird To” section simply because of John Dwyer’s prior occupation slinging LSD in San Francisco. Do note, this is another act to avoid the rail for if you are afraid of going crazy in the mosh pit. Lookout for “Lupine Ossuary” and some tracks from the two albums the band has released in the past year. It’s a different show since the formation changed, but with two drummers now, you are sure to get down. Get wild and weird with The Oh Sees at the Moon Stage, on Saturday, from 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Jay Watson, Shiny Joe Ryan, and Nick Allbrook are best known as collaborators with and members of Tame Impala, but their side project band Pond is arguably better than the Impala as a whole. Always staying true to its psychedelic, weird roots, Pond does not hold back on the space vibez. Very excited to hear Pond debut new tunes as a follow up to the excellent 2015 Man it Feels Like Space Again. Get spacey with Pond at the Moon Stage, on Sunday, from 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Shit to Get Weird To:
Did you know Bradford Cox was in Dallas Buyers Club? He played Jared Leto’s boyfriend. Cox is likely to spin a few jokes out about the festival in between droning space jams in the cool desert night. It’s going to get cool outside by the time Deerhunter goes on, so you’ll need to keep moving to keep the sweat from the King Gizzard show from keeping you cool. Don’t be afraid to move your body in weird ways to the groovy rhythms brought by the incredibly tight live band. See Deerhunter at the Moon Stage, on Friday, from 12:10-1:30 a.m.
In a style reminiscent of its name, JJUUJJUU loves to create anxious buildups to droning psychedelic guitar jams, before dropping in some whoozy vocals and rhythmic drums. Expect a few clouds of smoke to puff up from the crowd during this set. Just don’t find yourself lost in the desert like the protagonist in the video from “Ancient’s Future.” Get crazy with JJUUJJUU at the Block Stage, on Saturday, from 8:00-8:40 p.m.
S U R V I V E
If you have a pulse and a Netflix account you have likely heard of Stranger Things. S U R V I V E is the synth exploring four piece behind the dark theme song which immediately draws viewers into the 80s throwback series. I am just hoping for at least a few bars of those famous arpeggios from the Austin based band. Catch S U R V I V E at the Wright Tent, on Sunday, from 8:45-9:35 p.m.