Moreno Beach festival fuses experimental music and psychedelic culture

California garage rock icon Ty Segall shreds with his newly formed Freedom Band at last year’s edition of Desert Daze. (Photo from Facebook)

In an age where festival headliners have become almost homogenized, one California desert festival has separated itself from the pack. And no, it is not the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival — truthfully, this festival is a far cry from it.

From Oct. 12 to 14, fans of experimental music will flock to Moreno Beach at Lake Perris for the seventh annual Desert Daze. Patrons can enjoy the all-new beach club complete with a swimming area at this new venue. In previous years, the festival took place in arid locations like Desert Hot Springs, Sunset Ranch and the Institute of Mentalphysics at Joshua Tree National Park.

This year, psych-rockers Tame Impala and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard will headline a carefully curated lineup that includes boundary-pushing acts such as Death Grips, Warpaint, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, Kevin Morby and Ty Segall & White Fence, among many others.

As part of the festival’s anticipatory marketing tactics, the lineup has been rolled out in phases, with its most recent “Phase III”  released on July 24. This edition includes the addition of shoegaze legends My Bloody Valentine, artpop singer Julia Holter, minimalist rock trio Shellac and others to an already star-studded cast.

Since its inception in 2012, Desert Daze has built a reputation as the quirkier, younger sibling of Southern California’s primary music festivals. With many of the same artists headlining festivals across the country, Desert Daze has targeted a different crop of indie and experimental artists and built an equally niche audience in the process.

A large part of the festival’s appeal lies in exclusivity. Over the years, attendees have had the opportunity to see their favorite artists to perform some of their most seminal works in full. Most notably, psych-rock band The Black Angels performed “Passover” in 2016, and stoner metal band Sleep performed “Holy Mountain” in its entirety in 2017. This year is no different, as Desert Daze has enlisted both indie rockers Mercury Rev and drone metal pioneers Earth to perform their full album sets.

In addition to their unique musical lineups, the festival incorporates a variety of additional programming. Last year, Adult Swim brought its “Things You’ve Never Seen” pop-up to the desert, where attendees could view unaired episodes and participate in free giveaways. In 2016, the festival provided an opening ceremony with rocker and motivational speaker Andrew W.K., accompanied by closing remarks from slam poet Saul Williams on the final day.

This year, fans can attend a variety of lectures headlined by legendary musician and audio engineer Steve Albini, with more to be announced at a later date. Additionally, art installations inspired by psychedelic culture and the abstract movement will be on display.

For now, a lineup brimming with both emerging and established independent artists will be more than enough to draw crowds from Southern California and beyond. By all indications, Desert Daze’s seventh installment will be a musical experience that festival goers and music fans alike cannot afford to miss.