Lake Perris, CA – A luminescent body of water stretched out before me; the far side hugged the slopes of green hills and climbed straight into the clouds. I was genuinely awestruck by the beauty of the scene before me. Aside from the poor cell reception, I dare say this is quite nearly the perfect place for Desert Daze. As we approached the festival gates, the serene landscape quickly offered itself up to crowds of people, vendor booths, music stages and art. Even the music, played by artists with varying sounds and styles, seemed to be accepted and elevated by our surroundings.
Media pervaded the festival as a theme of distraction. Dead and unplugged TVs spray painted completely white were staged throughout the grounds. Made both innocent and invalid, their juxtaposition amongst the fields and beaches sent a clear message. This was a place for people in the here and now. People who want goosebumps and chills running down their spine. People who want their music live.
If I had to categorize the people I would say that there was a general sense of ease and inhibition amongst the attendees. Everyone I spoke with was incredibly helpful and friendly. Sharing also seemed to come second nature to everyone because strangers were constantly offering up seats, napkins, dances, lighters and directions. And while those things may seem insignificant, the sum of their attitudes only enhanced my experience.
The lake watched over us, remaining visible from almost anywhere on the grounds, offering a cool respite for the many people brave enough to ditch their shoes. I thought the opportunity irresistible and delighted in allowing the clear water to wash over my feet, depositing tiny shells along the shore.
The setting of the sun drove us out of the lake into the crowd. Kevin Morby was on stage wearing a white jumpsuit and sideswept hair. When he played Parade, the swaying mass of people turned into a mob of moshers. The songs people can mosh to always surprise me. A older man with a Woodstock 1989 jacket stood adjacent to me with a bandana tied around his shaved head. He knows where to find those chills and goosebumps.
Other art installations entranced the crowds with a more ethereal experience. Optical illusions, spaceship shaped noise machines and glowing rainbows played entertained some and played tricks on others. In the center of the beach stood towers made from billowing white sheets. Enclosed within the fortress was an oasis of trees and lounge chairs planted in the sand.
Hot chocolate Mate helped stave off the cold as we waited for Slowdive to take the stage.
Photos by Nate Rynaski