The 2017 Desert Daze lineup is out! Not entirely yet, but whatever has been revealed is enough to make me want to sell my last remaining kidney and book a flight out of Mumbai. If you thought that 2016‘s roster was strong (Primus! Washed Out! Television !), the bill for Desert Daze 2017 will blow your heart right out of your chest. You know how some lineups are good, even great, but then there are others that seem… providential, somehow?. Like they’ve been put together only to oblige you into spending money you don’t have because what else could possibly even be worth it? That’s what this one feels like. I mean, just look at it: Spiritualized is a long, long, long time favorite of mine, and Courtney Barnett (who I like to refer to as Australian Patti Smith 2.0), made the most gut-wrenching, existential-ennui-ridden album last year that I am still bumping on the regular. I think the only other lineup I’ve seen this festival season that’s inspired me to put my organs on sale is Field Day.
Desert Daze is now 6 years old, and what started out in Joshua Tree, California as a ‘smaller, weirder version of Coachella’ is now finally making it’s way into the big leagues. This LA Times article gives us a fairly good idea about the ethos of the festival, what keeps it going in an over-saturated market, and where the enterprise is headed. “Growth isn’t necessarily the point. It’s proving that small and strange can beat big and broad, and be more meaningful for everyone in the end,” the article says. I get that, and I like it.
But coming back to that stellar lineup, here are some choice cuts you need to acquaint yourselves with before October rolls around. Headliners will come and go, but it’s the smaller sort of programming that really reveals Desert Daze’s commitment to weirdness.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
I’ve been obsessed with this bunch of Australians. Nothing about them begs to be taken seriously except the music itself, which is a veritable psychedelic melting pot of garage, surf, krautrock, jazz and who even knows what else. They’re prolific as fuck: 9 studio albums since 2012, not to mention the 4 new ones that are slated to come out this year itself. Their last, Flying Microtonal Banana, was an absolutely bonkers experiment in microtuned instruments that sounds like something your hippie grandparents would sploosh all over if only you could convince them to drop acid again.
Now that I think about it, it makes so much sense for La Femme to share a bill with King Gizz. They’re similarly, unabashedly weird, and there’s nothing that these guys compose which isn’t downright catchy. I’ve only heard this one record, Psycho Tropical Berlin, but I’ve heard it some many times I can sing all the French lyrics. It’s kind of criminal these guys aren’t more well known.
Black Moth Super Rainbow
This is truly disgusting music. It sounds that way. Slow, mucoid melodies that wriggle into your ear and bury into your brain like worms. I end up listening to their 2012 album, Cobra Juicy, a couple of times a year at least. But objectively speaking I think this band truly achieved their peak with 2007’s Dandelion Gum, which you should check out right now.
Deerhunter was on Desert Daze’s bill last year, and this year Bradford Cox will return to the festival with his solo project, Atlas Sound, which Cox says features “ideas that I can’t make work with a rock band.” The Atlas Sound sound is a surprisingly cohesive meld of garage rock and ambient electronics, which you can either sleep to or make breakfast to.
Ticket sales and camping reservations begin exactly a week from now, on June 21. Check out the Desert Daze website for more info. Tickets start at $179 and go up to $450 for the four day extravaganza that will be held at the Institute of Mentalphysics, Joshua Tree, California, from Oct. 12-15, 2017.