Desert Daze 2018
October 12-14, 2018
Lake Perris State Recreation Area, California
By Rachel Bennett
The lineup for Desert Daze – a yearly gathering of music’s more psychedelically-inclined artists held in the California desert – has many of us uncontrollably salivating once again. With headliners like Tame Impala, My Bloody Valentine, Warpaint and King Gizzard, the festival is bound to bring in music lovers from all over the world.
In addition to the well-loved names that stack the schedule, there are a bounty of newer artists who are creating music that expands and experiments with varieties of rock and roll. These artists are proof that the rock genre is thriving and evolving, with room for unique forms of creative expression. Here are ten I’m stoked to see.
Hand Habits: When Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast and Angel Olsen firmly tell their fans to NOT MISS THIS SET, we’d better take note. Albany native Meg Duffy of Hand Habits is a new, powerful singer-songwriter who released her self-recorded debut LP last year. Her songs unfold with dreamy nostalgia, with softly layered vocals and melancholy guitars plucking a tranquil lullaby. Her essence is both grounded and lost, and her lyrics touch on existing in the balance between these two states of being.
POND: Australia seems to have an infinite pool of incredible psychedelic rock bands. POND is one to take note of. Although the group shares members with Tame Impala, they are making a unique name for themselves with upbeat, dance-y, psychedelic beats and an energetic, whimsical stage presence that is guaranteed to get the crowd grooving.
Mannequin Pussy: While Australia is brimming with psychedelic rock bands, Philly boasts a thriving punk-rock scene. Mannequin Pussy, lead by vocalist Marisa Dabice, inspires listeners to thrash around in wild glee as Dabice effortlessly switches between mellow vocals and hardcore yelling. A punk band fronted by a woman is the most punk punk can get and this band never fails to put on a killer show.
Hinds: Feel-good, carefree and fun, this group from Madrid, Spain appears to be a band of best friends who just love playing music together. Their shows are unique because the crowd gets let in on the friendship and everyone has a rockin’ good time jamming out together. Hinds released their second full length album this year and have been touring the world to play their upbeat garage rock.
Bedouine: Syrian born L.A. singer-songwriter Azniv Korkejian sings delicate, ethereal melodies that will provide a moment of introspective calm from the thrashing rock of many other bands at the festival. Her self-titled, debut album Bedouine draws influence from 1960s/70s folk and country music; her velvet voice and plucking acoustic guitars shape this work into a lovely gem of aural delight. The album explores Korkejian’s experience living in many different places growing up as an immigrant. Some songs are melancholy, some more hopeful, but each tells a story.
Kikagaku Moyo: Think delicious, 1960s psychedelic head-banging rifts spreading through your veins as you are swept away on a magic carpet of shredding. Reminiscent of the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, Tokyo band Kikagaku Moyo plays classic psychedelic grooves with an Eastern twist. Lyrics all in Japanese.
Cut Worms: Max Clarke’s Midwestern upbringing is evident in the sounds of his band Cut Worms. His songs are filled with twangy guitars, layered vocals, and an all-American vibe similar to that of The Beach Boys. But if you pay close attention, Clarke’s lyrics contrast his upbeat sound with a dark edge that gives more depth to his musical creations.
Deap Vally: The ladies of Deap Vally (pictured at the top of this post) know how to rock like no other. The duo has more stage presence between them than a 10 piece brass band, with Lindsey Troy running around the stage wildly shredding while Julie Edwards murders the drums. A staple of Desert Daze, their unapologetic rock and roll is filled with contagious badass-ery. Deap Vally will be making the trek up from L.A. to Seattle this November for Freakout Fest as well.
Sugar Candy Mountain: This Oakland band does it right with relaxed guitar jams and synthy keyboards riffs. They create dreamy, groovy, surf rock that speaks to smoke slowly curling from a joint, warm sunshine, and a lazy breeze tickling the back of your knees as you lounge in extreme ecstasy under perfect blue sky.
Stonefield: Once again, thanks to Australia for birthing all these rock and roll geniuses. The women of Stonefield happened to be born into the same family, which is all the more impressive. The Finlay sisters have been playing music together since they were small, and their psychic connection creates extraterrestrial sounds that transcend this earth. Their current sound leans more towards prog rock/heavy metal, with a fuzzy psych edge that will have listeners lost in the cosmos.