Desert Daze 2022 Recap
Where mole hills roll and gnarled rock jags the skyline, Desert Daze carves out a world unlike any other festival. As you enter the grounds, the glows of scattered art installations are almost as alluring as the sprawling stages. I secretly expected gimmicky sponsored exhibitions, but many of the sculptures elicited genuine oohs and aahs on my walks between sets. Of course, without specific substances, trippy lights aren’t really enough to justify the cost of a ticket. Cosmonauts and average concertgoers alike, fear not. Even with Iggy’s absence, the lineup featured enough genre-spanning highlights for two weekends of shows. Desert Daze 2022 was the most fun I’ve ever had at a music festival, and that’s with the image of a gentleman walking barefoot into a porta potty forever seared into my skull. Here are some of the standout sets from the weekend.
Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul (Friday)
Although I like to avoid repeating artists in my preview and recap coverage, if anyone deserves the bump it’s Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul. The hoots and hollers per attendee were off the charts. My festival buddy doubled over with joyful laughter several times throughout the set, the energy too palpable for even this seasoned Desert Daze vet. Coupled with Bolis’ basslines and immense beat drops, Charlotte’s stage presence managed to break through the stoic head nods of the fest’s psych rock enthusiasts.
I had been warned of the Jelloman. I had seen his mark. “Jelloman,” the wooden board read, without the slightest hint as to what plans this creature had in store for us. As Shame took the stage, the possibility of a Jelloman appearance had all but left my mind. Frontman Charlie Steen strutted around stage shirtless with the bravado of a more lucid Darby Crash, while bassist Josh Finerty ran his patented on-stage sprints, punctuated by pratfall flips. Everything seemed normal—a little too normal for Desert Daze. Just then, plastic cups of red and green goo began to rain from the sky. It was him, and he brought his Jellobow, launching Jello shots to his screaming legions. Incredible set, incredible man.
Viagra Boys (Saturday)
With Cave World, Sebastian Murphy and the boys have brought yet another deeply unserious record to the stage, and indie rock is all the better for it. They were the perfect foil to the day, following the emotional intimacy of Nilüfer Yanya and leading up to the measured psych rock of Kikagaku Moyo. Between labored push-ups, crowd confrontation, and spiraling evolutionary tales, Sebastian’s pantomime of a punk rock leadman is just a ton of fun. We could stand to turn the level of self-seriousness down to a Viagra Boys from time to time.
Kikagaku Moyo (Saturday)
For the uninitiated, this was one of Kikagaku’s final shows before their upcoming indefinite hiatus. Those in the crowd certainly knew. Having seen their September 22nd set at The Wiltern in Los Angeles, I can confidently say that the final tour nerves are gone. The hits are being played with impeccable accuracy and they seem to be having fun with it. I’m not privy to the situation, but it’s nice to see a band willingly call it quits after eight years of consistently solid releases. Whether or not this was it, the modern psych icons went out on top.
Show Me the Body (Saturday)
When Julian Cashwan Pratt started stretching onstage before the set, I knew I was about to be shown the body. I’m not ashamed to say that I didn’t know a distorted banjo was a part of the ensemble, but I am ecstatic. Those four strings have a place in post-hardcore. Beyond the blended aesthetics, Show Me the Body are truly incredible songwriters. Listen to “Arcanum” and tell me that you wouldn’t inhale desert dust for the opportunity to mosh to that buildup.
With only his laptop and a whole lot of grit, Peggy bounded on stage for his Desert Daze premiere. Having just been duped by a gag chicken wing cast from a fishing line—let’s call it experiential enrichment on the staff’s behalf—I was ready for anything. The next fifty minutes were a one man show. As Peggy rushed the barricade, the crowd surge only brought more excitement to the faces of his front row fans. These beats were made to be listened to on speaker stacks. With songs from Veteran, All My Heroes Are Cornballs, LP!, and OFFLINE!, it was a victory lap in high fidelity for one of the most prolific rapper-producers of the last 6 years.
Before I left the desert for irrigation, it was only fitting that I caught the Los Angeles locals Automatic. In case you were worried, my third time seeing the synth punks was as danceable as the first. Their charisma lives up to the Go-Go’s band namesake. My prediction of onstage found art fell flat, but Excess live is more than enough to replace decorated driftwood.
Words by Chris Burleson
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