Last weekend, the seventh installment of Desert Daze took over Lake Perris in Southern California. For months, the festival had been updating an already impressive lineup with more and more names, the connective tissue between them all suggesting a weekend full of guitar-oriented acts bending their instruments (and the audience’s minds) as far as they could go. Though the festival ran into some weather issues — a severe lightning storm forced the cancellation of the second half of Friday night, just three songs into Tame Impala’s set — Desert Daze 2018 quickly rebounded and delivered on the enticing promises of its lineup.
Over the course of three days, you could see Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine create whole hurricanes of sound that must’ve reverberated far across the lake. (One has to wonder what the hell a random driver passing by the vicinity of Desert Daze would’ve thought if they heard the noise of MBV echoing out without knowing there was a festival there.) You could see sweaty, effusive sets from Hinds and Idles. You could lose yourself in spaced-out drones of all sorts, from the groovy Kikagaku Moyo to the heaving JJUUJJUU to the spectral Earth. You could lie back in the sand and meditate to the calm and reflection of Bedouine and Hand Habits. You could watch Preoccupations rage against the darkness as the sun set during their climactic final song, or you could watch A Place To Bury Strangers and Beak> embrace nocturnal sounds in performances that began in the early morning hours.
It was, overall, a great festival — not just because of the mesmerizing setting, or the unique quality of having a festival that actually has some specific identity, but of course because of the range and consistency of all the artists at Desert Daze. During those three days, we went backstage and behind the scenes with a bunch of them, our photographer Wilson Lee capturing artists as they wandered the beach or climbed around Desert Daze’s various art installations. We’ve collected it all here as a portrait gallery summing up the weekend. Check them out below.