Words by Justin Ward | Photos by Brian Ferguson

Desert Daze Music Festival returned to California earlier this October, a perfect weekend of dry warm weather right on Lake Perris, and it still sticks with me as one of the best music festival weekends I’ve ever attended.

I came away from the third day at the festival just in awe of the weekend of music I had seen, and in a way, I wanted to hold on covering the whole thing to compare it to some of my other experiences and make sure I wasn’t just favoring it based on recency alone. A festival will certainly stand out as “BEST OF” if it was the last one you’ve attended (and it went well), and while I came away from a few festivals this year as inspired as ever, this one was different.

Maybe it was the scene overall. It was probably that Khruangbin set, though. Check out some shots of the grounds and how we arrived on site the final day…

As I got to the fest, ALVVAYS was playing on The Moon stage at the perfect, sunny beach time hour, and tons of fans were just really soaking in the band, vibes, and the waves (hypothetically). I fell in love with the band’s sound, something I wasn’t too familiar with before the set, and it was awesome to see that lead guitarist had his Dad on hand down from Canada to see the show (who got an awesome shout out during the set).

Jacob Ogawa was playing in The Theatre and Brian ran over and got some shots from that set.

I hung out on the main side of the park and got a good spot for my first show by The Black Angels who played as the sun set and the vibes started to get sludge-y. The music was a more psychedelic vibe and got everyone into the deeper feel that the festival possessed, that of noise music and hazy heads.

Brian raved ridiculously hard about the next set in the The Theatre, the vibed-out solo psychedelia of George Clanton. As we had been plenty amazed by the new stuff we saw on Friday that weekend from Animal Collective and Panda Bear, and Brian having self-declared Animal Collective his favorite band behind Phish, when he came back raving saying that it was the set of the weekend, I took notice.

I wasn’t going to risk my spot at The Moon stage for the headlining set I was waiting all weekend, Khruangbin.

It was amazing to see them victory lap through a year supporting their first two LPs, their first dub LP, numerous sit-ins and special appearances.

It. Was. Incredible. The Pink Floyd cover was just absolutely transcendent, too.

After that we took in the Claypool Lennon Delirium and I even caught a moment of the Moses Sumney set across the park (in between the craziness on stage with Les Claypool and Sean Lennon), and truly I just felt nicely full and didn’t want too much music to harsh my mellow after the Khruangbin set perfectly satiated me for the weekend. Wu-Tang Clan would be a bonus…

After hanging with my crew and sending our emotional goodbyes after the amazing weekend, a few of us strolled over to see the craziness that was Lightning Bolt. A sound explosion, psychedelic noise thrash punk sorta thing, and honestly, it was cool af but I wasn’t feeling it after the ‘bin set. What can I say, it was just a little too heavy. But I give these dudes credit for making music that overwhelmed me, though.

Thanks for the fun, Desert Daze. Hopefully we’ll be back next year…