Iggy Pop, shamanic ceremonies and cuddle pits – California’s Desert Daze was magical (Report)



A festival isn’t just made great by the bands that play it but by the people that go and place it happens: Desert Daze scores big on all three. The psych/rock/stoner/generally weird weekender, which is now in its sixth year, has got the bands – Iggy Pop, Spiritualized, Allah Lahs and Deap Vally for starters – but also takes place in a stunning residential retreat designed by the 20th century’s greatest architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, in the middle of the Joshua Tree desert in California, a couple of hours drive outside of Los Angeles. It attracts a friendly, warm and excellently out-there crowd, made up of 5,000 exceptionally well-dressed music geeks, and frankly, we’re a little bit in love with the whole thing.

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A cross between a mini-Glastonbury and the dearly departed All Tomorrow’s Parties, at Desert Daze you can feed the soul and spirit as well as the ears and eyes, with the Mystic Bazaar acting like a particularly Californian take on Glasto’s Healing Fields, with soundbaths, shamanic ceremonies, astrology, tarot, meditation, yoga and a defence against the dark arts class – something we definitely could have done with at certain points over this summer’s festival season while battling a pear cider hangover. From the beginning, when the stoned carpark attendant asked us to “try and park a little bit closer to that cactus”, to the end, where we watched a green-tinged meteor flashing through the night sky, the vibe was magical. “It’s all about creating an adventure, a place where you can get lost without knowing where you are” says Julie Edwards of LA duo Deap Vally, who helps run the festival with her partner Phil Pirrone. “You come upon things and you’re transported entirely – you’re not just in a big field with a stage on either side.” Art pieces are scattered around the site, geodesic snuggle-pits filled with stuffed animals,…

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