Do you feel like hitting the beach in mid-fall? Did you perhaps miss out on the sun-soaked good vibes of a long, sweaty outdoor music festival this summer? Do you wish Burning Man actually had quality music and no tech bros tripping on research chemicals? It’s not too late. California’s luminous Desert Daze festival has you covered. Running from October 12-14 in the beautiful Lake Perris state recreation area, it is easily the biggest live music event of the year’s last quarter and is known as much for its rock-solid programming as its remote, scenic location choices.
Heading into its seventh year, the fest continues to step up its immersive environmental curation, transforming the arid west-coast desert into a psychedelic mecca. Visual art installations, projections, “late night experiments,” and some of the world’s most adept live performers all add to the sense that your weekend might not be spent on planet earth after all but hey, the music sure is great out here. To help you navigate your way through these unfamiliar extraterrestrial frontiers, we put together a list of five key artists who are sure to push the boundaries of your musical mind.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
This Australian seven-piece psych outfit is the perfect fit for a festival in the desert. They play heavy, jazzy, prog-rock that is equal measures catchy and ambitious. They tend to release several albums a year and no two sound the same. From their jazz-pop collaboration with LA’s Mild High Club to the eastern-influenced Microtonal Flying Banana, King Gizzard are always challenging themselves and their listeners while making a convincing case for the revival of the jam band in the 21st century. The uninitiated couldn’t pick a better setting to experience their dual-drum sonic assault for the first time.
Warpaint will only have to drive a few hours from home base in LA to bring their groovy dream pop to the depths of the Moreno Valley. This uniquely creative four-piece weaves together polyrhythmic drum loops, spindly guitar textures, and sweeping vocal melodies to surreal effect. They’ll be setting the mood for first night headliners Tame Impala and couldn’t be better suited to warm up the cool desert evening. It’s hard to believe their Exquisite Corpse EP came out nearly ten years ago, as it still feels as mysterious and enticing as ever, while 2013’s self-titled masterpiece sounds like an uncanny blend of Pink Floyd and Portishead that has to be seen live to be believed.
My Bloody Valentine
This Irish quartet might be the pioneers of shoegaze but their music works just as well for looking up at the stars. In addition to releasing one of the most acclaimed comeback records of any 90s alt-rock legends, they helped pave the way for the infamous “Madchester” and British house music scenes. This is largely thanks to their use of drum machines and otherworldly layers of processed guitar to create a pastel fog that is sure to envelop the crags of south California for miles around. Don’t let the band’s imminent beauty fool you, though. They can get next-level loud and no show is complete without at least five minutes of rib-rattling thunder that will make you feel as though you’re literally blasting off. Make sure you remember earplugs for this one!
If there’s one place Death Grips are certain to actually show up for their own performance, it’s Lake Perris. This industrial hip-hop/noise trio thrives on the unusual and the extraordinary, putting them right at home on the Sunday evening main stage lineup. Frontman MC Ride’s biting, surrealist lyrics are often howled, rather than rapped in the traditional sense, in order to cut through producer Andy Morrin’s warping, queasy synth work and math rock virtuoso Zach Hill’s frenetic live drumming. Their reclusive social commentary and pummeling instrumental force makes for an intensely physical and exhilarating live show that is sure to be one of the highlights of the weekend. There will definitely be a mosh pit.
Also hailing from California, Chelsea Wolfe draws on traditional folk and goth influences to make some of the most beautiful, haunting doom metal of this century. You may have already heard her music unknowingly in Game of Thrones or How to Get Away With Murder, providing dark atmospherics and tension that become truly enveloping when translated into a live setting. She’s come a long way from her 2011 cult classic Apokalypsis to last year’s acclaimed and extremely heavy Hiss Spun. Her 2015 LP Abyss was a peculiar crossover of pop and sludgy chromatics that nearly cracked the Billboard top 100 remarkably. It will likely appeal to 90s kids who once enjoyed Evanescence or Marilyn Manson, whether they’d admit it or not. She’s playing on Saturday evening while the sun goes down, you don’t want to miss it!
You can find out more about the festival here grab your passes here