Desert Daze Collides with a Rainy Craze

Psychedelic drugs, art, music and a lightning storm slams SoCal festival.


Tame Impala endure lightning and rain during day one of the three-day music festival Desert Daze. (Photo by Donna Balancia)

 By Kristi Alarcon, Culture Editor

Desert Daze is a psychedelic-themed festival created by artists, for artists featuring an array of musicians, artwork and food. The music spans many different genres, like heavy psychedelic rock and stoner metal, and it echoed throughout the valley hills.

Furthermore, after eight years of waiting, Tame Impala, a highly anticipated psychedelic rock band from Australia, finally debuted at Desert Daze, though the performance would be short-lived.

Typically held at the Institute of Mentalphysics in Joshua Tree National Park for the last two years, this year’s event was held at Moreno Beach, a lake situated in the center of Lake Perris Recreation, where Desert Daze funded a rehabilitation project.

Although tickets can range anywhere from $310 to $400 for weekend passes, it was worth it for Long Beach State students Jack Nugent and Davis Stewart.

“It is a psychedelic-based festival featuring a lot of local musicians and artists,” Stewart said. “It's all very interactive. It's kind of like the wild west out there. It's the kind of stuff that you see and you’re like, ‘why?’”

According to Nugent, the art featured at Desert Daze was better than any museum or festival that he can recall. Also, one particular moment encapsulated the experience of going to Desert Daze for Nugent.

“We were watching Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats after dark and the lightning was moving in closer,” he said. “He was hitting guitar solos while lighting is shooting across the sky. It was the coolest shit.”

Although the entire night was filled with great acts, the main attraction was by and large Tame Impala. As anticipation grew for Tame Impala, a strange aura was building because of the rain, thunder and lighting, something that Stewart noted.

“We were about to see the most legendary Tame Impala set ever,” Stewart said.

While Davis and Stewart and about an estimated 8,000 people were enjoying the set, Kevin Parker, the band’s leader, had some distressing news to share after just three songs.

“I gotta go, you guys are good. They are telling me to leave,” Parker announced due to the rolling thunder and lightning approaching.

It was then that the news of what was happening hit Nugent.

“Imagine 8,000 people all simultaneously peaking on their respective drugs and the music cuts hard and the mood flips,” he said.

Even though Desert Daze could be considered a failure, the attendees who went and experienced what happened firsthand would say otherwise.

Nugent highlighted how a festival worker made their way onto the stage and told the crowd to disperse and find shelter, after turning the lights off to prevent any accidents.

“That's when pandemonium happens,” he said. “Everyone started running, some crying and a thousand bad trips are happening simultaneously.”

Along with bad trips, Nugent mentions how the weather instantly became a factor.

“Lightning would strike within a couple of miles and you could see the whole place light up, brighter than day. You can feel the air flex. The hair would stand up on the back of your neck,” he continued.

Then, the realization that people could die, as well as the looting of their possessions, hit Nugent harder than any bad trip and so they fled back to their campsite.

However, due to the lack of illumination, the boys searched for the nearest source of light and shelter. Their prayers would be answered in the form of the women’s bathroom.

Both Nugent and Stewart stayed in the women’s bathroom for six hours until 4 a.m., when the rain stopped. Meanwhile, in the men’s restroom next door, a group of 60 people piled in with a speaker and cases of beer and started partying.

“If that's not Desert Daze then I don't know what it is,” Stewart said. “I was bummed about that but everyone was trying to make the best of it.”

Although the festival failed to account for the inclement weather, the organizer’s decision to give free weekend passes and free parking to everyone showed that it wasn’t about the money but rather, for the attendees to have a good time.

Even though Desert Daze could be considered a failure, the attendees who went and experienced what happened firsthand would say otherwise.


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