Desert Daze: No Need for Drugs
Three-day music festival plus more
There was no need to take drugs last weekend at Desert Daze—a three-day music festival with camping, yoga, and cacao ceremonies—because trust me, you already felt high. Whether you took the yellow acid or not, you were feeling the cosmic vibrations be it the full moon, the festival’s location at the Institute of Mentalphysics, or the all-around washed-out psych-rock sounds that floated throughout the dust. (Oh and Washed Out played, too).
Yogis and head-bangers alike, the atmospheric groove hit all of us, hard. Primus, Television and Deerhunter headlined the festival, but there were countless other bands to see—if you had time, that is. What a trip! There were three beautiful stages, an indoor sanctuary for film screenings and lectures, a giant tent for yoga and sound baths, and walking meditation paths throughout the venue—there was no time to come-down!
Art installations were scattered throughout the grounds also. It was an endless oasis. But perhaps the most special piece was one I chose to call “The Collective Unconscious,” a 10-foot vessel formed by four wood panels that attracted many curious, painterly types. I never found the actual artist, and each time I approached the piece, a new person was working and adding to it. When I asked one guy if he knew what the deal was, he said, “I dunno, the paint was just sitting here, I think we can just paint on it!” It was definitely not intended to be a free-for-all and the serious LA-artist in me was initially appalled: How could you? Though only moment later I thought: How nice… We are all the actual artist. A special energy called many of us to this vessel, and it was an honor to pick up a brush and add your own personal touch to the collective masterpiece.
Perhaps the most significant art of the festival, though, was the energy created amidst the hot desert grounds. Ephemeral, just like the dust that we danced in, The Institute (which was built in the ’40s by Frank Lloyd Wright and others), had a truly ethereal feel. Whether you were there to vibe to beats by LA-based artist Teebs (who played an amazing afternoon set with MNDSGN and Michael Lundy)—or there to thrash in the midnight mosh pit with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard—the festival grounds nurtured you with the special warmth of a spiritual teacher. The Institute was massive; each new find was honored with a feeling of sacred discovery.
The worst thing about Desert Daze was the realization that it truly was a daze. We were disappointed to find that upon leaving the mystical venue, beaming smiles at strangers were no longer a two-way exchange. Grins weren’t reflected back to us and reality sunk back in. There may have been many Angelenos at the festival, but the festival spirit when we returned was definitely not found in LA.
Photos by Annie Martens