One should never underestimate the power of the desert. With masses of untapped and unpredictable energy in the air, things come in fast and without warning. The first day of Desert Daze, a three-day music festival that took place Friday, October 12-Sunday, October 14 in Lake Perris, California, was proved just that. Arid heat overtook the seemingly endless row of attendees arriving to the psychedelic rock festival, which offers the option of car camping, tee-pee glamping, RV parking, or general admission day use.
Frighteningly fun band Sugar Candy Mountain took the stage first, employing musical tones as mystifying as their moniker might suggest. Two Western Australian bands, Pond and Gum, were welcomed by warm and adoring audiences. These bands have gained individual success for their incredible attack of dueling guitars and stage presence, but both are originally known for their existence as side projects from the supporting members of Australian All-Star crowd-melting Tame Impala, which headlined the festival that night.
Throughout the afternoon, crowds saw clouds gather and heat gave way to rain. In the distance, dark thunderstorms were dazzling audiences and artists alike during an almighty sunset. As darkness fell, Tame Impala took the stage before thousands who were wet but enchanted. Sadly, the set from the treasured headliner lasted fewer than three songs before festival officials were forced to shut down the event and urge all attendees seek refuge as the potentially cataclysmic electrical storm had quickly drawn overhead. Campers rode out the storm, still buzzing from a day full of musical delights, recounting stories from standout sets by female rockers Warpaint and Nashville trio L.A. Witch.
Saturday morning storm clouds lingered like the hangovers that festival goers couldn’t shake loose. With tributaries refreshed, and the desert lake content with its indulgence of heavy rains, Mother Nature slackened her hold and Desert Daze was underway once again.
Cut Worms took to the main stage first with their groovy, post-war 1960s rock and country twang tones. Los Angeles based Hand Habits soothed listeners’ ears with dreamlike ethereal bedroom pop at 3 p.m. Little more than an hour later, Hand Habits frontwoman found herself on the main stage supporting folk rock luminary Kevin Morby on lead guitar. The two put on a heroically moving set that was widely considered as the best performance of the festival thus far. As Morby strummed the first chords of his 5 p.m set, serendipity struck and sun rays broke through the dense cloud cover as artist and audience alike rejoiced in the first light of the day.