In a dress made of cannabis, Julie Edwards of the band Deap Vally slammed hard on her drums as partner Lindsey Troy slashed at a guitar and howled beneath some tilted, slender palms in arid Mecca, Calif. In front of the indie rock duo was a crowd of dusty fans, gathered on cracked dirt and cement for the Desert Daze Festival.
The relaxed showcase of live music and art drew hundreds of attendees to three stages Saturday at Sunset Ranch — one more desert music event barely a week after the close of this year’s much larger Coachella Music & Arts Festival in Indio. Desert Daze unfolded the same day as the country-themed Stagecoach, but with a much different sound and flavor.
Visitors from Burbank to Boyle Heights and Costa Mesa set up camps beside a dry lake bed surrounded by trees. Others arrived in RVs, parked with kitschy pink flamingos and supplies next to the water.
In the afternoon, psych-punk lady trio L.A. Witch (including Burbank’s Ellie English and Sade Sanchez) echoed through the mountain oasis, followed by tidal wave-sized rock from Mystic Braves and the garage-trance band Cosmonauts. By sunset, experimental duo JJUUJUU were onstage, as the area filled with people.
“The population grew,” said festival director Phil Pirrone, a member of JJUUJJUU.
Moon Block Party produced the festival and curated the group of artists. Pirrone and other organizers looked to double staff size this year and incorporate new set pieces and stage backdrops for the event’s third year.
“I think the leap between last year and this year was massive, and now we're ready to basically redo what we did in 2014 in 2015, only much more prepared,” said Pirrone.
“It was a total war zone for me. As festival director, I do not get to sit in a tower and call out direction. I am literally in the dirt with my staff, directing traffic, helping sponsors, helping the front gate, helping with production, etc.”
The highlight for Pirrone was his band’s live set, which he called “the only 35 minutes I don't have to be festival director.” JJUUJUU’s performance was followed by Brooklyn-based DIIV and a laser-light pop rock show by Allah-Las. Headliners included Blonde Redhead, Liars and Vincent Gallo.
By morning, some campers still lay in the sun, collecting dust, while others packed up.
“Response from the artists have been very positive. They all had a great time from what we're being told,” said Pirrone, whose next event is the Moon Block Party in Pomona, partially a fundraiser for the city’s charter School of the Arts and Enterprise. No date has been announced.
Follow Nicole Charky on Twitter: @Nicosharki.