Phil Pirrone’s been honing his craft for nearly a decade. And we’re not talking about the musical wit expressed through his band JJUUJJUU. We’re talking about his music festival, Desert Daze. For those who’ve never heard of it, it’s an event rooted in intergalactic psychedelia and rock and roll. It brings the opposite vibe of the typical electro-centric music festival. It’s the antithesis of Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival, and events where the attire is neon-bikinis and knee-high disco boots. Desert Daze is the place where psychedelic rock—and its stoned, fringed-out culture—thrives.
“We have no interest—literally no interest—in producing a ‘music festival’,” says Pirrone. “The music festival as we know it has kind of lost its way. The festival’s kind of become an orphan child with no direction. Desert Daze is sort of the antithesis to that.”
The festival’s in its seventh iteration this year, and it’s happening this weekend at Moreno Beach in Lake Perris, California. Pirrone explains that this year’s new festival site feels like you’re in real-life Jurassic Park—minus the velociraptors. The grounds are much bigger than last year’s event in Joshua Tree, so there will be a lot more to do, see, and experience. There’s even hiking trails to explore and a lake to float in. Though the new location might not as desert-y as it’s been in the past, let us not forget that Southern California is a massive desert. So make sure that you bring a sun hat, water bottle, and sunscreen.
This year’s line-up boasts artists such as Tame Impala, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Jarvis Cocker, Warpaint, Death Grips, Ty Segall and White Fence, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, and 60 other bands over three days. But perhaps the most evolved aspect of the festival is the art. Between projection artists, art installations, and performance art, it’s impossible not to surrender to the engulfing, cosmic energy of the environment.
“We’ve really sort of cracked the egg of building immersive art experiences,” says Pirrone. “These pieces, these experiences, are more than just one little piece of art in the middle of a field. And, at that point, it really starts to become more of a museum—a living breathing gallery that you become part of.”
Pirrone explains that everywhere you turn, you’ll see a visual piece of art, an art installation, or some kind of performance art. And the reason for this is to create a disconnect from the outside world. Desert Daze is festival vacation—or staycation—but one that’s removed you from Earth and sent you to another planet with intelligent life.
“We really want people to have a child-like experience when they come to Desert Daze,” Pirrone says. “It’s designed to allow people to lose a bit of their ego. If they can strip that away for a few hours or a few days, maybe they can reveal what’s deep within themselves and extract something, and inject it into their everyday lives to make their inner and outer universes a better place.”
That’s the whole point of Desert Daze. Sure, the concept of festivals being a “spiritual experience” has become cliché. But music is a higher power, Pirrone explains, and when you blend that with an immersive environment that disconnects you from the chaotic reality in which we live, the likelihood of experiencing moments of enlightenment is high. And when you connect with people who vibe on the same energetic plane as you in the name of music, it’s hard not to experience moments of nirvana.
At its core, Desert Daze preserves the ethics of what a music festival should be rather than what it’s become. “This is the antidote to venture capitalism in the music festival world,” says Pirrone, who’s been on the road with his band since 2001, and has watched the state of music shift toward rich folk and restauranteurs trying to make money off of bands and attendees.
“People think that if you get a few EDM DJs and a few models to be your Instagram influencers or whatever, then boom, you’re in the money. Fuck all that—we’re allergic to that shit. There’s something real left in this world, and it’s music. And we’re going to fucking fight for that.”
Three-day and single-day tickets for this weekend’s event are available now on their website. Don’t forget to pick up a camping pass, too!