Phil Pirrone of Space Agency booking, Desert Daze and Moon Block knows how to throw a festival. Now in it’s 5th year, Desert Daze has evolved into a full-blown psychedelic wonderland in Joshua Tree, California.
With help from Spaceland booking, The Knitting Factory and Moon Block Party, the event represents the future of unique fests that go beyond generic bookings to please every taste palate and instead satiate the desire for a one of a kind experience. For example, while we were initially thrilled for an LCD Soundsytem reunion, after their continued headliner position in just about every festival across the world, the choice of booking seemed more like a contractual return on investment than a well curated cultural and artistic happening. Even the venue for Desert Daze showed how much thought went into creating the perfect atmosphere.
The Institute of Mentalphysics was built by Frank Lloyd Wright and his son Lloyd Wright in 1946. The founder of mentalphysics, Ding Le Mei, studied under a Tibetan Lama Master and billed the philosophy as meditation and breathing techniques that can transform consciousness. Whoa. That kicks the shit out hosting concerts at random city parks or sports grounds. We’re intrigued Mr. Mind Expander.
So you add an insanely complex and relevant venue to the middle of the Mojave desert, give your attendees some excellent background reading material, then couple that with ridiculously cool artists, vendors, poster makers and bands, and you start to get an idea why Desert Daze 2016 was a mustn’t miss fest.
Now lets talk about that lineup.
Desert Daze took some of the best bands of Beach Goth and Burgerama from years past and added a psychedelic twist plus major classic cult headliners. They threw in professional weirdo rockers and bands so far from California that they required specific flights just for this one gathering. Brian Jonestown Massacre, Television, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Thee Oh Sees, Toro Y Moi and more represented three days of one of the most eclectic and thoughtfully curated lineups ever. Our only regret was that it was impossible to see and photograph every band we wanted to, but that’s sometimes (most definitely this time) a sign of a perfect festival.
The one drawback, which many would argue was the best part of Desert Daze, was the fact that the event was in Joshua Tree. Although not incredibly far from Los Angeles, Orange County or San Diego, the location did make the event logistically a little challenging. Luckily, Desert Daze offered camping grounds and a multitude of hotels, lodging and sleeping arrangements that pleased just about everyone.
We can only hope that Phil, Desert Daze, Moon Block, The Knitting Factory and Spaceland continue their booking excellence by expanding their large scale fests to Los Angeles, and feature similarly historic venues, landmarks and epic lineups as Desert Daze 2016. Until then, we’ll catch you in the desert next year.
Photos by Josh Beavers words by Phillip Gutgesell