Desert Daze 2016

What a trip!  Desert Daze 2016 met all exceptions and proved to once again be our favorite, most chillest, music festival and overall experience of the year.  Major high fives to Moon Block, Spaceland, and all those involved in making this magical, unforgettable weekend possible!

This year, we ditched the RV and rented a house nearby with the rest of our crew.  The camping situation looked pretty sweet, but after 3 days of constant standing and walking and grooving, my body had had enough and was thankful to not be sleeping on the ground.

The Institute of Mentalphysics was the perfect location for Desert Daze 2016.  The aesthetic developed by Desert Daze perfectly complimented the existing buildings and the eerily serene Joshua Tree background.  I’m still curious how much was paid for the Moon’s guest appearance each night –  seriously, they could not have planned for better skies!


Day 1


We all headed out from the LA area Friday and did our best to rush out and get there as early as possible.  The goal was to catch the opening ceremonies with a guy named Andrew WK who was said to be good at getting parties started.  We made it through the no-stress entrance and security check to catch his last few words as he introduced the Death Valley Girls.  Boogieing with DVG as they jammed under the billowing white strands of fabric was our first impression of the Block Stage and the amazing, picturesque scene that had been set for the rest of the weekend.

Death Valley Girls at Desert Daze 2016

The whole place was beer-friendly, so we grabbed some suds and set off to explore the grounds.  We stumbled across the map and found cool art spaces throughout – “living rooms” equipped with couched and static-filled televisions hidden under trees and in washes, and various tee-pee-like structures caught our eye for chillin’ throughout the weekend.

TV Melts Your Brain at Desert Daze 2016

Once the sun dropped, the music really picked up steam.  This coincided with Temples‘ majestic set, and was followed by the grooves of Toro y Moi on the Moon Stage.  Next we got Psycho with The Sonics as they took us back to our roots with their OG garage rock hits.  Having fallen for Thao & The Get Down Stay Down years ago with the release of their debut album, we decided to jet over to The Wright Tent to catch some of the set.  We crossed the sea of chill that was Washed Out on the way to back across the grounds.  Things really got moving for King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard.  Noisy, energetic, and wild as always – King G are an unstoppable good time!! To end the night, we were hoping to get some dancing in and caught some of Suuns, who despite some dope records, came off as a little underwhelming… but maybe we should blame King G for getting us all amped up!

The Sonics at Desert Daze 2016

After that we headed back to our home base where we passed out one by one.


Day 2


7:30am – first beer cracked.  The morning was a struggle, but after some breakfast sandwiches and some extra nappage, we caught a cab (local rip-off-mobile) to the festival grounds.  Just in time to catch Cherry Glazerr!  WAND was up next and did not disappoint.  The Coathangers brought a much needed spike of punk rock as the sun began to set.

We took refuge in one of the cozy tee-pee structures and hot boxed a solid ten people inside – that’s what the structure was for, right?!?

Trippy Teepee at Desert Daze 2016

Next on our list was Thee Oh Sees.  Now, speaking only for myself (Mat), I have been an avid, loyal fan of Thee Oh Sees for almost a decade now.  Maybe it’s because I miss the Brigid/Petey-era or maybe it’s because I have seem ’em somewhere between 10 to 20 times, but for a band I found to be always evolving and never the same, they’ve felt pretty stagnant over the last few performances I’ve seen.  In the end tho, I’m totally being a snob – Thee Oh Sees brought the ruckus and pulled just about everyone in attendance to the Moon Stage for their hour of power.

Thee Oh Sees at Desert Daze 2016

The Black Angels unleashed their classic Passover to celebrate 10 years since the remarkable neo-psychedelic album dropped.  The performance played like a journey through the desert – breathtaking but dangerous, serene but sharp.  Primus sucked.  And by sucked, we mean it was everything we could have asked for!  Les Claypool and company were just so impressive.

Primus at Desert Daze 2016

Toward the end of Primus we looked around and took inventory of our group only to find we were well-sloshed, stammering, and likely to burn out at any moment.  Hence, we headed home and wound with some Duke Ellington on the turntable.


Day 3


8:00am – first joint lit.  I’m an early riser and didn’t want to totally wake everyone up, just kindly tickle with green smoke.  I put on Sleep’s Dopesmoker, and by the end of the D-side of the epic journey to the smoke filled land, just about everyone was up and with breakfast ready to serve.

Day 3 meant Desert Daze 2016 would be coming to an end.   We badly wanted to catch Meatbodies/La Luz, but the struggle proved to be all too real.  We entered the Desert Daze grounds as Deep Vally was doing their thing and were able to catch some of the set from afar on our way to the Moon Stage.  Jennylee killed us with cuteness – the Warpaint bassist/vocalist and her crew was the enlightenment we needed to get our heads in the game.  Cute overload was reached toward the end of her set when she brought out her dog to share the stage with her.  Next we moved to the raw noise of METZ, who totally killed it with their pit-stirring sounds.  We took a minute to check out the Alan Vega tribute – which featured Justin Pearson (The Locust/Retox/etc.), Ariel Pink, Allison Wolfe (Sex Stains/Bratmobile/etc.), and a grip of other artists who paid respect to the punk rock forefather and his work in Suicide and beyond.  RIP Alan Vega – you are a legend!

Jennylee at Desert Daze 2016

POND turned out to be quite impressive, but it was Dead Meadow that totally blew everyone and their ear drums away!  Up until that point we hadn’t noticed the massive stoner rock hole in our sole that needed to be filled, but Dead Meadow served up a healthy bong-load of killer riffs accompanied by the acid-drop background effects provided by The Blindspot Project.  We caught every minute of Television.  Tom Verlaine led the band through some of their most legendary tracks, all of which we never thought we would have been able to experience live, much less in one of the most beautiful places “neath a marquee moon.” Brian Jonestown Massacare were the perfect ending to Desert Daze 2016.  Our fun tanks were running low and the gaze of BJM was such a blissful way to cap off the weekend.

Television at Desert Daze 2016


Final Thoughts


For what it’s worth, here’s a rambling of our post-Desert Daze thoughts:

  • Will the festival return to the Institute of Mental Physics again next year?  (hope so).
  • The no glass in your car situation was a little extreme, but not the worst.
  • What was up with the Sanctuary Hall?  The few times we tried to check it out we were turned away and given lame excuses.
  • Kudos on the schedule – missing early sets was our own fault, because each day was so well spread there wasn’t any real reason to have missed anything you HAD to see.
  • This year’s Desert Daze was especially magical. Joshua Tree set the scene for beautiful desert vibes and good times. This fest isn’t like any other we’ve been to and we hope it stays that way. Can’t wait for next year!

Cool-Tite at Desert Daze 2016

Check out the rest of our photos!

Photos by Sergio Estrada