How I Survived Hurricane Impala, and Other Tales from Desert Daze 2018

Long waits, storms, and tears – the magic of Desert Daze transcends any and all bad vibes

I am not a seasoned festival-goer. I’ve never been to Coachella, I’ve never been to been to Lollapalooza, I’ve never even been to Warped Tour (RIP). The idea of sleeping in a tent for three days, drunk, hungover, sweaty, and dirty does not appeal to me, even if it does mean I get to see countless bands and forget about my schoolwork for a weekend. Give me a dark dive bar in a seedy neighborhood or a house show I found out about on Instagram over a multi-day, outdoor behemoth attended by thousands. I guess I’m more of an indoor kinda girl.

So when I received two weekend passes to the Desert Daze music festival in Lake Perris courtesy of KCR, I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy myself. I figured I should at least go for the experience of a music festival, and I really did want to see King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard live. After securing a festival companion (let’s call him Patrick, because that’s his name and I can’t think of a funny codename), procrastinating about buying the required camping passes, and planning out all of my outfits, I was all set for my first foray into festival life. In the end, my experience at Desert Daze ended up being perhaps one of my favorite memories ever. Here’s a summary of highlights (even though some may seem like lowlights – they can be both, don’t be so binary) from the weekend:

The Lineup

So close, yet still so far…

Patrick and I turned onto Moreno Beach Drive around 12:00, just as we’d planned. We figured this would give us ample time to get in, set up our “campsite” (read: the truck parked in the parking lot, sleeping bags arranged into a bed beneath the canopy), and catch either Tropa Magica (my pick) or Sugar Candy Mountain (his) around 2:00. This was not the case. No, we sat in our mobile campsite for three hours, barely moving for the first hour and a half. Morale was at first high, then it was low. Then we each cracked a beer and it was high again. We considered a second but decided against it. Morale became low again. Finally, finally, around 3:00, we made it to our precious VIP Lot 9, which would be our base of operations for the next three days.

The Storm

Seen on Saturday morning.

Despite the long wait to enter the festival, Friday was probably my favorite day of Desert Daze. It was undeniably the most exciting, although some festivalgoers might instead describe it as “hectic” or “wet”. Diehard Tame Impala fans would probably describe it as “absolutely the most terrible day of my life, I want my money back”.

For Patrick and I, Friday meant Hinds -> Pond -> L.A. Witch -> Warpaint. Idles was next on the list, but the first few lightning flashes of what I have now affectionately dubbed “Hurricane Impala” prevented us from entering the tent that the English punk band was playing in. We spent the hour between Warpaint and Tame Impala watching lightning light up the sky, illuminating the mountains that surround Lake Perris. We alternated between sitting on a lifeguard stand and laying in one of the small tents that had been erected on the festival grounds, which I can only describe as “texture tents for people on drugs”. This one was made of heavy cloth and featured woven strings of yarn hanging from the peak. Laying down and pawing at them, you felt simultaneously like a baby and like a cat. A baby cat, perhaps. I remembered that there is a word for that – “kitten”. No, I was not on drugs.

Around 10:00, we entered the crowd that had gathered around the main stage for Tame Impala’s headlining set. Lightning continued. Rain started to fall, at first lightly but then heavier. Tame Impala played through their first two songs, shooting off confetti cannons for their third. Afterwards, a festival official stepped on stage and informed us that we would have to evacuate the festival grounds and seek shelter at our campsites, in our vehicles, or at the medical building. Tame Impala was not cancelled, and they would hopefully resume their set at some point that night. Spoiler: they didn’t.

While disappointed fans returned to their campsites to call their Ubers and Lyfts, while trying to salvage their rain-soaked tents and belongings, I was happy as a clam in the coziest makeshift truck bed camping setup ever crafted. Patrick and I spent the next couple hours listening to the rain on the roof of the canopy, punctuated by loud bursts of thunder. Other than a slight issue with the heavy rain finding its way into our cozy paradise (did I mention how cozy it was?), everything was perfect.

The Pass Out and Rally

Where I spent a good chunk of my Saturday night.

I think the reason why our wait time to enter the festival was only three hours rather than, say, five, is that at some point, security stopped checking vehicles as they entered the campground. We returned to the festival around 7:00 and caught the end of Ex-Cult at the Theater Stage. Next we headed to the Block Stage for Desert Daze founder Phil Pirrone’s band, JJUUJJUU. Here’s where things get rough. We planned on returning to the truck for provisions, where I then settled in for a quick nap. Yet, despite my internal protests about possibly missing King Gizzard, exhaustion overtook me, and I passed out.

I awoke sometime around 11:30. Patrick had returned from seeing Slowdive. I was feeling completely fine. I chugged half my cold brew (god bless) and we made it back to the festival in time to see most of King Gizzard’s set, which was everything I’d ever dreamed.

The Characters

Unbeknownst to us, that lightning bolt on the pyramid was some major foreshadowing.

There were some truly memorable people I encountered over those few days. From Chandler, Phil, and Ye, who we never saw after Friday afternoon, to Andy and Laura, who came all the way from Costa Rica for Tame Impala. The girl who proclaimed that Desert Daze was the “funniest festival ever,” when she really meant “funnest,” but probably should have said “most fun.” Patrick’s uncle, who we saw driving one of the shuttles while waiting to enter the festival. The man from Denver who was always utilizing the VIP phone charging stations at the same time I was. Shawn, who finally helped us resolve the issue of Andy’s dead car battery. Bill with the jumper cables. The glowing carrot, the inflatable unicorn, the crowd-surfing panda. The people from Jam in the Van who were about as chill as you’d expect. The guards who didn’t question me using the Artist/Staff entrance to the campsite showers. All of the staff, volunteers, attendees – everyone. Everything. I loved it all. Thank you, Desert Daze.

Written By: Andrea Renney

When Bologna Turns Into Steak

Indie? Grunge Pop? Surf Rock? Try and wrap your mind around the genre of the hard hitting album, “Hung at Heart,” by The Growlers.

Frontman Brooks Nielsen provides the raspy vocals for this incredibly heartfelt album. From the get-go, the song “Someday” starts off the album with shimmering guitar riffs and smooth bass lines. This first track is a love letter to a significant other, promising better days and better meals.

“When tall boys turn into champagne,” Nielsen sings as the song continues to foresee how he wants to provide a better life for his loved one.

As a whole, the album is a perfect cohesion of love and lust.

With the track “One Million Lovers,” it’s hard not to see why this burden of love hangs so heavy on the heart of Nielsen. The song describes a love that possibly was lost or maybe a love that can’t be let go. Lead guitarist, Matt Taylor, provides upbeat strumming patterns with glimmering tones that will leave  you “…dreaming of her the whole day though.”

It’s hard to find a favorite song on this album, but one track that attention should be brought to is “Pet Shop Eyes.”  Nielsen’s charismatic attitude comes through in this song, explaining how he’s not buying into another girl’s advances due to the sad and blasé way about her. He compliments her looks but tells her to move along, even joking that her sadness has him on the verge tears.

All in all, if you’re looking for chill album to throw on in the background of your next party or if you’re looking for an album to make you feel at ease with your own personal strife, “Hung at Heart” is what you’re going to want play all the way through. The band has made an album that is danceable yet introspective at the same time. Released in 2013, “Hung at Heart” is reminiscent of late ’70s surf rock and blues.

Featured Image: “Hung at Heart” cover art, all rights reserved to The Growlers

Back from the Dead: San Cisco

Bands can evolve for years, creating new sounds that draw listeners in. However, for San Cisco, this Australian band has reconnected with their roots and put out a new track called “B Side”. The song’s bright, clean guitar sound and catchy melody pays homage to their 2012 self-titled album with popular tunes like “Fred Astaire”, “Nepal”, and “Awkward”. The simple yet infectious clean guitars in “Fred Astaire” give it a 50’s vibe. The synth, on the other hand, adds a modern sound recognizable in Vampire Weekend songs. Other stand-out tracks like ‘Awkward’ with its distinctive groovy bass and thumping drum beats, and “Nepal” with its dreamlike guitar effects has made San Cisco’s debut album a personal favorite. Their second LP Gracetown, on the other hand, takes a subtle but different approach.

Gracetown carries a more mature sound. They ditch the pure indie pop for psychedelic, hip-hop, and disco leanings. Lead guitarist Josh Biondillo adds more complex and creative hooks listeners can groove to. Complimenting the bouncy riffs and melodies, Scarlett Stevens shows off her exceptional drumming and even her pipes in “Magic”. Nick Gardner’s ingenious bass lines bring depth to the songs while Jordi Davieson’s lyricism and dreamy vocals tie every aspect together.

The record opens up with “RUN”. The bass line is an immediate stand out and the jangly guitars are nice changes from the usual clean effect. Including “RUN”, “Magic” and “Bitter Winter” are the best tracks on the album. Nevertheless, in spite of raving reviews, Gracetown fell flat for me. I appreciate San Cisco’s musicianship and maturity as a band, but I also miss the bouncy pop vibe from their debut album.

‘B Side’ takes me back to the self-titled days. The clean guitars, infectious riffs, and Davieson’s melodious vocals gave me a little spring to my step. Even the endearing lyrics in the chorus aren’t cringy at all, but sweet and fun. Overall, it’s a solid track and a solid “B-side” to their new single “SlowMo”. I’m excited to hear their upcoming record so stay tuned for more updates!

It’s DJ Ricky P signing out. Deuces.

Neighborhood Jams: Young Creatures

It’s the end of September this week, so let’s end it on a great note by listening to some great tunes!  You guys ready to hear a combo of Death Cab for Cutie and The Killers? If you said yes, then you are in for a real treat. This week on Neighborhood Jams I am featuring the Los Angeles band Young Creatures.

Young Creatures would be categorized as a psychedelic rock band with a touch of pop – I ain’t complaining. They have been touring since 2012 ever since their first two EPs blessed the ears of L.A. Their first two EPs were titled Young Creatures (2012) and Habitats (2013).  From there they combined their strong lyrics and mellow guitar riffs together in order to debut their first full-length album in September 2014 titled Fear All The Things.

 

As mentioned earlier, this quartet has been touring all over the West Coast and country.  Some of the venues have included The Echo, Bardot, and The Viper Room.  Even SXSW – that would have been awesome to check these guys out there.

Now, one of the perks of my great job here at KCR College Radio is to hear new music before it is officially released.  And Vinny from Young Creatures shared their newest single Slow with me, which will be released in just a few days – September 30th to be exact! When I heard this song it instantly lifted my spirits.  My mind took me to the beach with the tunes breezing through my hair – it was pretty awesome. I love this song, and I think it is a great first single off of their new album coming in the beginning of 2017.

If you live in San Diego you will be able to groove with these guys on Thursday, September 29th, at The Merrow on University Avenue.  You can purchase your tickets here, and they are only $7 in advance or $10 at the door.  I will definitely be there – and you should, too! Now, if you can’t make it to the show they will be on tour until October 15th visiting cities such as Portland, Denver, and Pheonix.

Let’s all support this great up and coming band by liking their Facebook page – they are SO CLOSE to a thousand likes! Keep you ears open on the 30th for the release of their newest single Slow.  You can check out all their tunes on their Soundcloud and their beautiful website.