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A Trip to Desert Daze 2019

Another year at Desert Daze. Yes again. Isaac Zoller went, came, saw, and came back with some observations and imagery to accompany the tale of one of fall’s best fests this year. – What Youth

This year’s Desert Daze festival gave me a feeling of nostalgia. Many of the older bands invited this year played some songs that remind us of the past, while the newer artists hit similiar notes provoking those same tender emotions. We were all just sentimental fools trying to feel something.

Reading the line up during the days preceding the weekend of the event made me excited to see the bands I love and curious to watch new artists perform. From The Flaming Lips to Animal Collective to Flying Lotus, Desert Daze has something for everyone. There were many bands at the festival that I had never listened to live before like Khruangbin, Altin Gün, and Crumb (my new favourite group), as well as Shintaro Sakamoto who didn’t show due to a typhoon that hit his home country of Japan. Some people were very disappointed about this no show since he doesn’t play very often. I was looking forward to seeing Wand, Connan Mockasin, White Fence, Part-Time, and Ween, all of them were exciting and inspiring.

In my opinion, Wand was one of the best and most overlooked performances of the three-day event. Their set started out peaceful and reserved, playing some tracks off their recently released fifth album titled Laughing Matter. Around halfway through they started to play the heavier sound that the fans were waiting for. It’s refreshing to know there are artists like Cory Hanson who can switch musical styles so easily during a performance. To him, it’s as effortless as taking off a jacket mid-set. Some other incredible acts were Stereolab, DIIV, Temples, Alvvays, Klaus Johan Grobe from Switzerland, Jonathan Bree from New Zealand, Devo, and W.I.T.C.H., all the way from Zambia. Covers seemed to be the theme this year, many of the musicians that I saw decided to add a cover of another artist to their setlist. Devo, Khruangbin, Wu-Tang, and Sessa all did at least one and The Claypool Lennon Delirium actually did four.

To hear Sean Lennon sing “Tomorrow Never Knows” was a very entrancing moment and listening to Sessa play his version of “Me Deixa Em Paz” while swimming in the lake was incredible. Many people have said that this was the best music festival they had ever been to. I wouldn’t disagree. It differs from most others in that it’s actually 100% about the music. Everyone came to Lake Perris to listen to good bands play real music, to see some cool art installations, and most of all to enjoy themselves with friends. Nobody was there to take photos of each other’s outfits to post on their Instagram feed. The few people who did have their phones out would be using it to capture moments of live music that they would cherish forever. The event is about sharing the experience with others and creating more memories to be sentimental about. Thank you, Phil Pirrone, for starting something that the creators of Woodstock would be genuinely proud of. – Isaac Zoller

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