Desert Daze 2022 has come and gone, but not without a big 10-year birthday bang that has left all festival goers still reeling from the festivities and surprise musical moments from this jam-packed weekend. While the festival headliners King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Tame Impala, and Beach House (replacing Iggy Pop due to international travel restrictions) were amazing during their perfectly curated sets, especially Tame Impala with their special Lonerism album anniversary performance, there were very special undercard acts during this 3-day weekend that made the birthday celebration truly one to remember for long-time Dazers and first time festival goers alike.
Friday featured a rare US performance by Cortex, a French jazz fusion group that is one of the most sampled by producers in France to date, a moody and psychedelic set by indie favorites Babe Rainbow, an energetic performance by one of Los Angeles’ favorite hometown bands Chicano Batman, and an emotional set by one of indie rock’s favorite groups Men I Trust. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard got the pit moving during their punk rock-fueled headlining set, while on the other side of the festival, Perfume Genius gave a soulful and moving performance on the intimate Beach Stage. Friday was also filled with first looks of the art installations, both old favorites and new creations alike, and reunions with long time Desert Daze traditions such as the Dancing Carrot, live psychedelic hand painting projections on the Block Stage during performances, and the Jello Man giving out jello shots to all attendees.
Saturday was an especially long festival day full of grunge and punk rock’s best and brightest. The day started bright and early at 12:45 PM with none other than The Paranoyds at the main Moon stage, kicking off the second day of Desert Daze with a bang. Shame made a huge impression on their audience in the Moon stage pit by jumping in and crowd surfing during one of their first songs of the set. The secret set scheduled for 4:30 PM at the Sanctuary was a Desert Daze favorite: legendary Zambian group W.I.T.C.H. (We Intend to Cause Havoc) with L’Eclair as their backing band. Viagra Boys and JJUUJJUU led everyone into the evening festivities with compelling sets of their own. The highlight of the day though was Kikagaku Moyo’s last US performance, which blew everyone away with their electrifying instrumental performance. Once Tame Impala finished their monumental Lonerism performance, Reggie Watts, local Los Angeles musical comedian, graced the Block Stage at 1 AM with improvised acapella looping and his trusty beat pad, getting everyone together for one of Reggie’s biggest performances to date.
Sunday was filled with special musical guests and covers that wrapped up Desert Daze in a big musical bow. While Inner Wave opened the Moon Stage early Sunday with a riveting indie set featuring a special focus on their fans, JPEGMAFIA, one of America’s rising rap artists, got the party started with his passionate performance and auto-tune rendition of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” BADBADNOTGOOD, one of the most talented Jazz fusion groups currently, followed shortly with beautiful performances and a special guest artist appearance at the end of their set by Charlotte Day Wilson for two songs, including fan favorite “In Your Eyes.” The Marías made a big impact during the evening with velvety pop vocals from lead singer Maria Zardoya and a surprise cover of Britney Spears’ famous “Baby One More Time.” Fuzz, led by Ty Segall, got everyone moving at the Block Stage before Beach House took the Moon Stage for their headlining performance, sending everyone into a cosmic shoegaze dream. The festival officially ended with a rousing performance by Pond on the Block Stage at 11:30 PM, while Desert Daze favorite Radiojed graced the Beach Stage at the same time to continue the cosmic shoegaze vibes with Radiohead songs performed on a large modular synth and pre-recorded vocals.
While there were a few low moments of the festival, such as Sky Ferreira coming onstage at least 30 minutes late to her hour-long scheduled set on Friday night, a long wait into the festival grounds Saturday afternoon that caused most attendees to miss the first song of The Paranoyds’ set, and Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear canceling his set on Sunday last minute without any formal announcement, there were many more incredible moments experienced by all that offset any negative moments that may have been experienced during this legendary weekend.
Although the weekend is officially over, Desert Daze 2023 is only one short year away. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for announcements in the future – Desert Daze is one of the secret hidden gems of the music festival world you don’t want to miss.
Words and photos by Sarah Woods