Driving late in the night through massive roadside boulders to arrive at Sunset Ranch Oasis — your destination: a scarcely populated dry lakebed. “Welcome to the Moon” reads the sign at the entrance of the campground. Your boot covered feet traverse mini craters as you crush your way through with winds whipping through your hair. Pitch a tent to howling air and hope you’re still on the ground when you awake.
Early rise and shine with the sun, because you don’t have a choice. The burning heat enters in through the top of your tent and in the distance you hear the sound of bands sound-checking. “Welcome to Jamrock” echoes lazily and your purpose begins to come into focus.
A day and a night in the desert to throw your body recklessly. No pretense here, just dust loving folk preparing to get lost in a tripped out weekend. To Mecca, CA thousands flock for summer's kickoff to psychedelic rock; Desert Daze Festival. We let our hair out, and leave our razors behind... we get more than a little dirty. Is the dress code 'Earth tones only', or has the dust settled us into a life in sepia? Hard to decipher. But the heavy presence of bellbottoms, ponchos, and knitted attire is undoable. And more men don long locks than their female counterparts.
Since the inception of Desert Daze, two short years ago, the festival has been a staple for psych rock's next favorites and current throne holders. On its first go, the Moon Block Party presented event lasted for 11 crazy days. Over 120 bands performed and it went down in history as one of the longest consecutive music festivals. Today it's trimmed down to one electrified day and night.
For starters, there was Liphemra. 22 year old, LA based solo composer/drummer/ vocalist performed alongside the army it takes to recreate the overflow of sound oozing from this chick's solo recording. And a foul mouth. Sans censorship or apology, she dug us deeper into ourselves, note by note egging on the fire in our loins. Sometimes screaming with lust, all times stirring emotion to the surface. "You feel the way I move/ the way I melt", she insisted and met no resistance.
Behind fringy face in his hair, lead singer of Froth indulged us in long winded beach rock. Interjecting to no one in particular between songs, "You dropped twenty dollars." As the day progressed, trance inducing musicians continued to captivate limb by limb, alternating from Moon to Block Stages, with the Party Stage holding it down throughout the day. All things lifting us progressively towards a life without worry. Spotlight on sunshine fueled frolicking and 'frothing at the gash'.
Cosmonauts, Mystic Braves, Mr. Elevator gave us reason to get wild all afternoon. In fits of smiles and flailing tantrums, we were rescued from the sonic doldrums. When the performers with the extended streamer torsos took the dancefloor during Night Beats' set, we were assured we're right where we ought to be at last.
Deep Vally took the stage, we were in for it. Their regeneratory 'fuck all' attitude leaves no question marks in their wake. Girl power front stage and center, lead singer/guitarist Lindsey Troy was decked out in man slaying sequined gold & black booty short/bustier combination whilst drummer Julie Edwards wore a marijuana leaf adorned onesie. Badass backup singer/dancers in choir girl gone bad getup added extra dimension to an already eyebrow raising experience. These chicks rock. Hard. Everyone frozen in their tracks before head throttling was in order. Rocking the stage with aggressive sound and a stage presence to amplify it, their lyrics gave us all the chance to revel in pride for our wasted recollections.
"Baby I don't feel no blame/ Gonna take a walk of shame".
Turning point of the evening came at sunset when JJUUJJUU ushered us through the twighlight. Founder of Moon Block Party and band leader, Phil Pirrone gave his thanks and indulged in his brief window to be wholly with the music instead of acting as master of ceremonies. Undoubtedly a transformative moment for all, Pirrone basked in the traces of disappearing sun, feeling the wind sweep emphatically through his long waves. Lost in the essence of sweeping psychedelic rock, we could do nothing but surrender to a moment of majesty as our sonic experiences were about to sink us deeper into the void of indulgence.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra swooped in to cradle us as the darkness fell. Delivering sentimental lyrics and nostalgic frames with their crowd pleasuring: "So good at being in trouble/ So bad at being in love". A drastic contrast from the preceding band, but a worthwhile opportunity to calm and be at peace with the cooling air and its matching temperament. Meanwhile, the Allah-Las brought in reckless dancing and upbeat tempos. Throwing us a raft that allowed us to party on the surface before shit got real deep real fast.
Diiv. The Raveonettes. Need I say more? The only thing coming between reality and transcendence at this point was a willingness to get lost in the night. If you could handle the layers unlocked, you could feel time as it stood still for you along.
No one could've prepared sufficiently for the sweet sentimental surrender of Blonde Redhead's performance. Bringing 23 to life before our very ears, lead singer Kazu Makino, poured her heart onto the stage. Knees twisting, back bending release of the sensations from deep within-- drenching us in heart wrenching nostalgia. As if her own heart was on the line, she left everything on the stage for us to share, performing favorites and unleashing brand new tracks. At the final note, the crowd begged for more on hands and knees, but the show must go on as they say and soon we found ourselves at the mercy of Vincent Gallo.
One cannot deny that Gallo put us straight to sleep. Insert nap in the "Don't Trip" tent here ________.
And arise to fury from a burning inferno. As we crawled out of our hiding spot, we were welcomed by the soundtrack to armageddon. Liars were nothing short of morbidly intense. This devastation turned towards dance drowning and then right back into a malfunctioning robotic and eyeless performance, with lead singer Angus Andrew's eyeballs concealed by a beanie pulled halfway down his face.
Time to merge with darkness. Goodnight, Moon.
OR if sleep is never your thing, and you were lucky enough to snatch a pair of Color Optix glasses, you go to experience a whole new light after dark. With chakra color therapy and light diffraction lenses, the viewer shapes a visual reality of their own. According to their mission statement "Wear Rainbow OPTX chakra color therapy glasses for 30 minutes...experience healing effects of the difference color light spectrums." In my words, wear 'em at a festival and experience transcendence. Alongside vintage vendors the likes of Bohemian Hips utility belts, Scorpions Dance and Alice Moon, you were sure to snag some new favorite festival gear to last you all summer...unless you lose it somewhere alongside your mind in the fields of festival season at last...
Alyssa Aparicio dedicates her mind and body to musical transcendence. As a professional dancer and music journalist, she applies her study of anthropology to the cultural phenomenon of the modern music festival. From SXSW to Lightning in a Bottle, Electric Zoo to EDC, she has traveled extensively performing in and writing about her experiences at the world's most anticipated events. Alyssa is Creative Director & Co Founder of WildSpice Magazine and Art Director of The Carnavalesque Beauty Movement.AlyssaAparicio.com
Talltree is a freelance photographer and videographer by trade. His specialty? Creating honest art. "The challenge is recognizing what you truly feel and then figuring out a way to express it in a pure form, without filtering too much of the original feeling in the process. The beauty though is that the piece will most likely change into something you weren't expecting, expressing and meaning more than what you began with." See more of his work at Talltree.co