Mecca, California, is only about half an hour south of Indio and Desert Daze was only a couple of weeks after this year’s Coachella, but that’s where the similarities of the two spring SoCal festivals abruptly end. Unlike the two-weekend mega-fest presented by Goldenvoice for over fifteen years, Moon Block Party‘s dusty sister festival is only in its fourth incarnation, is located on a pile of dirt, and is unusually casual.
On Saturday, over three thousand young, energetic, and prepared (only a few unlucky souls were caught in the dust storms without protective bandanas) indie-pop and garage rock fans congregated at the Sunset Ranch Oasis—a surprisingly small patch of palm tree–lined real estate surrounded by a supposed former catfish farm—for nearly twelve hours of live music and a night of camping under the stars.
With a long drive to the venue and a base temperature of one-hundred degrees onsite, the short, and definitely not sweet, hardcore stylings of Whittier’s Plague Vendor and the post-punk sounds of Vancouver’s White Lung (with Deap Vally‘s Lindsey Troy stepping in on bass) acted as the sharp shot in the arm that the crowd needed to get pumped for the forthcoming music marathon. One by one, some of today’s best fuzz-drenched acts tore up the various waste-high stages with fans kicking up, and coughing on, dust clouds without a care in the world. Bass Drum of Death kicked their set into high gear with some expertly performed deeper cuts from their 2013 self-titled LP and crowd pleasers from last year’s Rip This, while DIIV perpetuated the complex cyclical drone of their sound by also spinning around each other physically in front of an equally mesmerized crowd. After the sultry synth-laden vibes of Mini Mansions—who get bonus points for their excellent suit game—LA’s eclectic singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe stood front and center belting out incredible numbers from her extensive discography (including a great rendition of “We Hit a Wall” from 2013’s Pain Is Beauty) and acting as an tempest stirring up emotions as well as dusty winds around her flowing robes. Electro-indie master Dan Deacon lifted the fragile crowd’s spirits with one of his patented dance parties, while Deap Vally got down and dirty in matching fringe outfits. Proving that each of them was worthy of their coveted headlining positions Warpaint, Failure, and RJD2 commanded the stage, reminding the crowd how rare it is to see these acts in such a small and intimate setting.
Below, check out all of our photos from Desert Daze 2015 courtesy of Sharee Allen.