10 Desert Daze Artists You May Not Know You Need to See
George Clanton, The Paranoyds, Surfbort, and others, explained.
Have you seen the Desert Daze lineup this year? Shit. Animal Collective? Come on. Wu-Tang Clan? Are you kidding me? The Locust reunion? Ugh. While all of this is invariably unmissable live music, every festival-goer suffers the unanticipated scourge of “downtime” during their weekend of all-you-can-take standing and looking at bands.
Fret not—it’s my job to fill you in on any artists you may not be familiar with, and it’s a job I take very seriously. With music fest season being the time you need people like me most, I’m happy to do my part in filling you in on who that tatted man is off in the distance, writhing on a stage and shouting about our fucked up society.
By no means a consummate list—nor a slight toward any of these artists, which, to be fair, you absolutely should be aware of—the following is a brief intro to some of Desert Daze 2019’s less talked-about spectacles.
Starting this list off with a very soft bang, Faye Webster is exactly who you want to hear when you’re regaining consciousness after a perfectly timed afternoon nap on Friday. Less West Coast beach music than Southern folk—at times extra-continentally Southern—Webster’s sax-aided downtempo-guitar rock is a welcome respite from the wall-to-wall heavy psych that defines the fest. If you forgot your hammock, I can almost guarantee Faye brought extras.
Faye Webster plays Friday at 6:00 p.m. @ The Theatre
Earlier this year, Froth wrote a song about the Yanny/Laurel phenomenon that rocked the internet up until the exact moment the White House got a hold of it, capturing the audio’s wig-out appeal and funneling it into the thick, distorted guitar recordings they mastered on 2017’s Outside (Briefly). Packaged together with “Laurel” were a handful of equally confounding compositions that matched the heavy-psych-curious pop of the single. Active head-bobbing and totally zoning out are both permitted. (Note: You’ve gotta book it when their forty-five-minute set ends—frontman JuJu Ashworth’s sister Sasami (a.k.a. SASAMI) will be throwing down at The Block at 3:30.)
Froth plays Sunday at 2:45 p.m. @ The Moon
If your impression of vaporwave is that it’s a total joke, a Reddit-spawned meme that—like Yanny/Laurel—died the moment it was commandeered by right-wing trolls, I have good news for you, and it is George Clanton. If you’ve never heard of “vaporwave” and have no idea what I’m talking about, I have good news for you as well, and it, also, is George Clanton.
George Clanton plays Sunday at 8:00 p.m. @ The Theatre
If you can’t wait any longer and must nap imminently upon arrival on Friday, Jessica Pratt is an equally qualified songwriter to lullaby you back into consciousness. Her minimalist brand of baroque pop is fit for soundtracking the tenderest moments of whatever dumb movie about ’60s Hollywood may have come out this year: Her acoustic-and-alto-coos songs sound as derivative of the decade’s counterculture as any of her festival-playing peers’ acid-freakout riffs. And folks, she rides the bus.
Jessica Pratt plays Friday at 4:00 p.m. @ The Block
You may know JJUUJJUU for any number of reasons: from live percussionist Andrew Clinco’s new day job fronting Drab Majesty, from founder and frontman Phil Pirrone’s work organizing some California psych-rock fest called “Desert Daze,” or from the enigmatic noise rock band’s bludgeoning sonic soundscapes that were once organized into a neat package of recordings titled Zionic Mud. I guess each of these reasons has its merits, but I’d settle on the last one as my main argument for the appeal of their live show.
JJUUJJUU plays Saturday at 5:30 p.m. @ The Block
It seems like the past ten years have been full of critics complaining about how many garage rock bands there are, but how’s this for a thought from a critic: What if there aren’t too many garage rock bands? The Paranoyds—being one of a decreasing number of such groups—shred, and there are plenty of variables on their recent Suicide Squeeze debut Carange Bargain to differentiate them from the endless supply of, in my opinion, very much welcome Ty Segall protégés filling venues across Southern California.
The Paranoyds play Sunday at 1:30 p.m. @ The Moon
Here’s a concept: Neil Young, but make it weirder. I can’t take credit for this idea, unfortunately, as it evidently belongs to Particle Kid’s J. Michael Nelson (yes, as in Willie, who is his father—but that’s not what’s important), whose dizzying discography of psych-warped contemporary folk often mimics Young’s heavy-rock guitar and wiry vocals. “Everything Is Bullshit” is absolutely an anthem worth checking out, even just for the stream-of-consciousness sentiment.
Particle Kid plays Sunday at 1:45 p.m. @ The Theatre.
Remember when Beyoncé introduced us to surfboarding? That was cool. Anyway, Surfbort is a Brooklyn-bred hardcore punk band who don’t sound anything like Beyoncé—grimy, graceless, really into trash and rats. As the Charlie Kelly of the Desert Daze lineup, the can’t-miss-ness of their set is based on the ensured rowdy audience, uncouth on-stage behavior, and high concentration of jorts and other denim cutoffs. Anything to get your mind of Hova straddling Bey in the tub.
Surfbort play Saturday at 3:30 p.m. @ The Theatre
As always, there are plenty of Boys to keep track of in the rock scene right now. But rivaling the bilingual punk of their Downtown peers, and the, uh, rap-rock? I assume? of those $UICIDE guys, Viagra Boys produce virile post-punk for sports guy and psychopaths alike. Garnering cult status for their live shows and music videos (OK, here’s one more)—not to mention their very good music—the tatted-up Swedes are a sight to behold.
Viagra Boys play Saturday at 11:25 p.m. @ The Theatre
Not to be confused with Witch (who you should also see), W.I.T.C.H. (We Intend to Cause Havoc) provide the Zamrock (Zambia + rock) injection every music fest needs (or would at least benefit from), dishing out R&B-flavor psych rock infused with sounds native to Africa. Countering the up-and-coming-ness of this list’s predecessors, W.I.T.C.H. are the lesser-known Witch in the Western Hemisphere and should prove the perfect foil to Mdou Moctar’s Nigerian guitar rock, as well as a cool band to see this close to Halloween.
W.I.T.C.H. play Friday at 10:30 p.m. @ The Block