Festival Reviews

Desert Daze 2017 Festival Review: Top 10 Sets

on October 17, 2017, 9:00am
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Usually stemming from that rare perfect median between sound, visuals, vibe, and good timing, sometimes a main-stage festival performance just clicks extremely hard. Enviably sandwiched between heavyweights in Sleep and Iggy Pop (something they don’t fail to mention in total gratitude), Melbourne psych-rock overlords King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s sprawling, typically ambitious set all but tore at the seams with breakneck Motorik beats, wailing guitar solos, and an incessant rout of psychedelic visuals on highlights including “Sleep Drifter” and psych overture “Rattlesnake”. Two drummers + three guitarists = one serious, party-starting odyssey.



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Introduced as a “fuzz fantasist” in a wonderfully rambling festival “opening ceremony” by the one and only Ian Svenonius of The Make-Up (“Nobody is insignificant – isn’t that right? Just as a desert is made of sand – one piece of sand isn’t more significant than any other…”), Ty Segall delivered a set that was just short of breathtaking on Friday night. From new tracks “Alta” and “Fanny” (a track, we’re told, written about Segall’s dog) to Crazy Horse-esque jamming, the crowdsurfing cosplay panda during “Finger”, and a goosebumps-prompting closing cover of “Gut Feeling” by Devo, it was a real trip doubly confirming something we already fully know: Ty Segall and his fellow blue jumpsuit-adorned band mean it hard.



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The definition of quintessential final-day main-stage headliners, it can be assumed quite a few heads hit up this year’s Desert Daze with the sole objective of catching Jason Pierce’s Spiritualized. Delivering on the promise of bringing something special, their set veered between hushed majesty and thunderous crescendos on songs from 1997’s seminal Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, including “Come Together” and “Stay with Me”. Submitting to Pierce’s well-noted confessional lyricism in the desert night surrounded by a sea of beaming faces made for an at times profound trip. Special shout-out to the bunch of Irish people who initiated a big communal hug in the crowd towards the end of the set. If ever there was a soundtrack for such an occasion, Pierce and co. effortlessly provided it.



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Iggy Pop was never, ever not going to be right at the top of this list. With none other than Henry Rollins very clearly losing his shit at the sound desk throughout, thereby singlehandedly conveying the sense of occasion felt by everyone with the slightest sensory perception in attendance, his set was an instant exhibition in giving the people what they want (something that John Cale clearly had no interest in doing over at the Block Stage). Starting with “I Wanna Be Your Dog”, blistering renditions of Stooges’ classics “Loose” and “1969” stood out in a career-spanning masterclass that didn’t let up for a single nanosecond. If the Frank Lloyd Wright-built Institute of Mentalphysics is the Church of Desert Daze, Mr. Osterberg Jr. went above and beyond to sanctify in his role as its supreme High Priest.



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Speaking of high priests, it would be an underestimation to say San Jose stoner rock titans Sleep obliterated everything in their wake on the Moon Stage on Saturday night. Performing their iconic 1992 album, Holy Mountain, in its entirety alongside the likes of Sabbath-worshipping single “The Clarity”, Matt Pike, Al Cisneros, and the powerhouse that is Jason Roeder channeled the breathtaking desert backdrop surrounding them and masterfully pulverized for 75 glorious minutes. Despite being in the small minority of the festival’s acts with an all-consuming knack for tympanic-membrane-shattering decibels (I’m also looking at you, Boris), the psychedelic strain in their sound really shone through, ensuring that what could have simply been a solid performance resulted in a uniquely tripped-out, festival-defining experience.

Click ahead for an exclusive photo gallery from Desert Daze 2017.


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