Every festival organizer these days seems like they’re out there trying to invent the next big thing, and every music festival is out to snatch the crown off Coachella’s head. Many think Desert Daze already has. The music festival celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, and we’re going to tell you what’s amazing about it and why you should care.
We want to understand the history of Desert Daze and the formula that seems to make it so uniquely cool and successful, from its location to its concept, past lineups, funky experiences, and more. Let’s get started by understanding the history of Desert Daze.
Desert Daze Festival History
You can’t really get a grip on what Desert Daze is without talking about how it started.
Desert Daze was founded in 2012 by talent director Phil Pirrone. His goal was to throw a festival in block party form. The first Desert Daze was massive, featuring over 120 acts over 11 days. The festival began as an angry response to commercialized music festivals and kept the focus on indie art.
It’s not that long anymore, but Desert Daze is still one of the longest consecutive day music festivals. Pirrone is quoted in OC Weekly as saying, “it started out as necessity…I kind of felt like something was missing for us.” Any indie fan can relate to that sentiment. In a landscape saturated with Instagram photo ops and VIP sections, Desert Daze remains a breath of fresh, desert air.
The Early Days of Desert Daze
The festival has been through many revisions, but through it all, it has kept its indie spirit. Pirrone has remained dedicated to showcasing talented, interesting artists, not just popular ones.
Nowadays, they attract big names like Iggy Pop, Tame Impala, and The Flaming Lips, but all along, it’s been about the music.
Who started Desert Daze?
So, now that we know a bit more about the music festival, let’s talk more about the founder. Who is Phil Pirrone?
Phil Pirrone is the founder of Desert Daze. He is a director based in LA who earned his love of music at punk shows and played with his own bands, A Static Lullaby, Deap Valley, and more recently JJUUJJUU. He co-books the LA venue Pappy & Harriet’s and previously organized Moon Block Party festival.
The biggest testament to his ethics? Pirrone’s company Moon Block ended a profitable relationship with a partner when they were acquired by Live Nation. Pirrone is navigating the ins and outs of the music industry while making some risky choices to save his soul.
What is Desert Daze?
We’ve answered this question literally. Now, it’s time to answer it spiritually, and like anything based in LA, this festival has a lot of mysticism and cool factor.
Desert Daze is a festival on the banks of Lake Perris, California, which is 65 miles south of the city of Los Angeles. Festival attendees can expect indie and experimental artists from all over the globe along with an interdimensional festival theme, yoga, meditation, tarot, and the Mystic Bazaar.
Like you would expect from any good event coming out of LA, there’s plenty of that mysticism and new-age embracing of ancient wisdom that makes Desert Daze a really unique, fun, and possibly “out of this world” experience.
The festival location
Desert Daze takes place on the shores of Lake Perris in Southern California. Part of what makes this music festival so special is the lake access. Festival attendees can swim and lounge, cooling off from a hot day of dancing in the sun.
It has been held in other places, too, however. They spent some time rocking in Joshua Tree and played at the Sunset Ranch Oasis as well.
Desert Daze Past Lineups
Here’s our list of past festival lineups. We’re talking about headliners and cool stuff you might not have known about past years.
The Desert Daze 2012 lineup featured Akron/Family, Dengue Fever, Gaslamp Killer, Dead Meadow, and Crystal Antlers, among others. The best part about 2012 was that it was totally free to attend! Check out the news coverage for a cool promo video they put out.
The Desert Daze 2013 lineup included Tinariwen, Warpaint, Chelsea Wolfe, Cosmonauts, and Fool’s Gold. Pirrone’s own band JJUUJJUU played, too. 2013 was an entirely outdoor event, and festivalgoers camped out to see the bands. It was also the first year they had an international act, Tinariwen from Mali, but since 2013, they’ve continued to bring in great bands from other countries.
The 2014 lineup included Blonde Redhead, The Raveonettes, DIIV, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Liars, and Autolux as some of the bigger name bands. They played at the Sunset Ranch Oasis venue in 2014.
The 2015 lineup featured Warpaint, Failure, RJD2, and Minus the Bear as big acts. Deap Valley was there, too, along with Chelsea Wolfe, Mini Mansons, and more. When you look at the posters, a lot of bands came year after year.
The 2016 lineup had Primus, Television, Suicide, Washed Out, The Sonics, and Deerhunter as headliners along with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizards for the first time. 2016 took place in Joshua Tree, somewhere they were no stranger to over the years. Fun fact: one of the bands that played, Survive, did the music for Stranger Things.
The 2017 lineup featured Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Ty Segall, Badbadnotgood, and Deap Valley on day one. Day two headliners were Iggy Pop, Sleep, John Cale, and King Gizzard. Day three saw Spiritualized on the main stage along with Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions.
The Desert Daze 2018 lineup was the first to have Tame Impala on top of the poster along with My Bloody Valentine. Other acts include Warpaint, Slow Dive, and Death Grips. It was also the first time they went to Lake Perris and played on Moreno Beach.
Desert Daze 2019 was a huge year with Devo, Wu-Tang Clan, The Flaming Lips, and Ween headlining the festival. The news coverage in 2019 begins to really hammer home the idea of the psychedelic experience and highlights the “mystical experience” of the event.
2020’s lineup would have included headliners PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, Electric Wizard, Portis Head, MGMT, and Bjork as headliners. Unfortunately, it was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
2021 featured The War on Drugs, Tim Heidecker, Kamasi Washington, Toro Y Moi, and Crumb. They only had one stage and seriously culled their acts to put on a low-key show that would accommodate the weirdness of the year after the pandemic began.
Who is playing Desert Daze this year?
Now that we’ve taken a look through time, let’s look at 2020’s setlist.
This year’s Desert Daze festival features Tame Impala as the headliner along with Iggy Pop and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Some more bands to look forward to in the 2022 lineup are Sky Ferreira, The Mild High Club, Men I Trust, and Kikagaku Moyo’s final North American festival appearance.
Now that things are back in full swing, there’s a lot to love and a lot to look forward to. Check out the lineup here for more awesome bands!
Desert Daze Festival: Final thoughts
Are you lucky enough to be going to Desert Daze 2022? Which bands are you most excited for? Let us know in a comment!
Desert Daze is so much more than a festival. Its dedication to the indie scene along with unique experiences, comfortable accommodations, and an incredible location are only some of the things that make this indie music festival a cut above the rest.