Desert Daze 2017 – Institute of MentalPhysics

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By Kainoa Owens

Positioned upon 420 acres in the high desert of Joshua Tree, California, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Institute of Mentalphysics, has become home to the best rock festival this year, Desert Daze.

The institute, in all its glory and awe, rests upon a rare geological confluence of three underground aquifers, and a measurable magnetic field that is said to channel “natural energy” to help desert-goers find clarity. Also known as “a portal to your inner being,” the enlightenment-based philosophical institution was established for those seeking to understand the “physics” of their minds, or to gain a higher sense of consciousness. It’s an apt location for anyone looking to escape the confines of their everyday life, or attempt to join in and connect with one-another through other forms of mentalphysics like yoga and music itself.

Surrounded by captivating architecture, elegant fountains, labyrinths, and beautiful garden paths, Desert Daze has solidified itself as an extraordinary festival experience bringing a sort of kindred vibe similar to the likes of Lightning in a Bottle, and dare I say.., Symbiosis? Nevertheless, the message of Desert Daze is similar with other transformative festivals (as mentioned above), in that they seek to provide a spiritual awakening, reformation, transformation, and inspiration for the individual.

This festival, accompanied with the mysticism of its location and venue, is primed to continuously get bigger, badder, and weirder each year. Phil Pirrone and his altruistic family & crew have done a fantastic job curating the music lineup and festival-goer mentality. Throughout the three-day weekend, the mix of festival goers ranged from many young and old burners, to garage-metal, 90s alternative rock enthusiasts, and everything in between. Needless to say, the lineup this year was STACKED.

In its sixth-installment since its birth in 2012, Desert Daze showcased an inconceivable rock lineup of artists old and new, as well as a wide spectrum of diverse rock-genres. The music this year spanned from raw, electronic punk, garage rock, and punk rock, to crushing power rock, droning sludge metal, minimalist jazz-fusion, and beyond.

The performances this weekend were much to be longed for. More specifically, the sound of a type of psychedelic jazz, Lee Fields & the Expressions, and BadBadNotGood were sensational, while Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile and the Sea Lice headlining Friday night soothed my soul. Saturday was by far the busiest day, with the biggest names, where attendance could have easily been around 5000 desert goers. Performances from a kind of electro-pop Mr. Elevator, which made way for Twin Peaks, JJUUJJUU, and John Cale as some of the daytime shredders. The stoner metal band Sleep, performing their 1992 album Holy Mountain, was something truly special, bringing back the past, reincarnating 80’s and 90’s hard metal rock.

Iggy Pop, the 70-year-old ageless wonder and “Godfather of Punk,” did not slow down, but instead threw down! As a neighboring desert goer looks at me and exclaims in disbelief, “The dude is 2000 years old, from the prehistoric era, and he STILL is absolutely owning it!” Shirt-off, shimmying out on to the stage, while hurling his mic-stand, and executing a famed stage dive, Iggy Pop and his group made everyone else seem above average, and more comparatively made Black Sabbath, one of my favorite bands feel outdated.

Aside from the environs of the institute, the most important takeaway from the weekend was the share of love for music, smiley-vibes in the crowd, the lyrical passion, the crushing rock gifted by the musicians, and of course the nostalgia in us that is mothaafuckkin’ rock & roll.

It is evident that Desert Daze has developed into a forward-thinking rock & roll music festival with a novel, free-spirited vibe, and an inclusiveness that without a doubt makes it the best rock festival this year, and potentially a new giant in festivals every year to come.

Enchanted Forest- Move With Us (Video)

Enchanted Forest Gathering creates close-knit community experiences within a fairy tale setting of majestic Oak trees complete with refreshing watering holes and winding river in Laytonville, CA. Intimate in size but offering up large-scale festival production, Enchanted Forest Gathering showcases over 70 internationally-acclaimed musicians performing atop stunningly-constructed stages - each one a piece of art in itself, including heavy bass headliners Shpongle, The Polish Ambassador, and PANTyRAiD, and live music legends such as Hamsa Lila and Ayla Nereo.

Rounding out the expansive list of marvels to discover at the 2016 gathering include three zones dedicated to yoga, flow arts, and dance/movement with over 50 classes plus educational talks and forums. Also nestled in the forest is an interactive Kids’ Village with professional day care services, and an array of playful micro-environments to find magical moments such as the Crystal Dome, Nectar Temple, Tea Lounge, Comedy Stage, and Visionary Art Gallery. Placing a heightened focus on maximizing participant comfort in as many areas as possible, Enchanted Forest Gathering boasts dance floors made of foam, shade and chill zones provided for every stage with Kombucha on tap, trees providing natural shade for camping, delicious and healthy food vendors - all within a safe, alcohol-free environment promoting a “Get saucy, not sauced!” policy.

Further Future - A Trailer for a New Age

By Derek Ruhland

Last year when Further Future's debut was announced, the noise I heard about it would more appropriately be described as a grumbling than as a buzz. Complaints in the comment sections of pre-coverage about the new event, or around the camp stove and other festivals, ranged from indignation at the ticket price, to indignation at the "invite-only" attendance, to indignation at the location of the event on tribal land.

Southern Californian's uneasiness with the ever-increasing commodification of festival culture had, it seemed, focused itself onto this well-funded upstart event outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Being from the land of Coachella, I was used to bathing in the frustration surrounding VIP sections and private after parties, but the foamy waters of discontent surrounding Further Future seemed, to me, to be unjustified in their vitriol. Yes, its branding was slick and its bent corporate, but I held that Robot Heart was trying to do something new and cool - to embrace the Silicon Valley takeover of Burning Man so many others deride - and to bring innovation, and dare I say a specific kind of progress, to the world of alternative music festivals.

The core of Radical Inclusion is allowing ourselves to experience discomfort at the unfamiliar, and rather than rejecting it, to do the introspective work of examining our immediate reactions from a place of both rationality and empathy. Failing to do so is the definition of being reactionary.

No, Further Future did not appear to be another love and light festival appealing to purists. It was something new, and I for one was happy to give it a chance. For what it's worth, my impression was validated with post-event coverage that rated the debut, at worst, a tentative success pending future adjustments.

I was determined to attend the sophomore effort and create an informed opinion for myself. I love new ideas, and I wasn't going to let haughty naysayers deter me.

Then I saw the 2016 trailer above and my heart sank a bit. All that tolerance and optimism flooded out of me when confronted with "attendees" that looked suspiciously like planted fashion models, tired buzzwords sliding by in the typographic equivalent of a Volvo sedan, and an unreasonably nauseating image of identical white circus tents arranged in a grid, filled with costumed yuppies eating pop-up gourmet fare.

But I was uneasy with my own feelings. I couldn't help but think that I was being either unfair or ignorant, or that I was in fact the one out of touch. Before completing this write-up I put it aside for a couple of nights of sleep on it.

Then I saw the below video by Space-X and my failure to grasp the origins of my own reaction evaporated as quickly as liquid hydrogen. I, and everyone else blindly hating on Further Future are indeed the ones behind the times.

Silicon Valley is to our information age as Oil was to the industrial age. It's the trillion dollar beating heart of the new economy, and to expect it to maintain anti-establishment aesthetics is absurd. We're still demanding that revolutionary ideas come in radical packaging, when we live in a time where nearly unbelievable progress in both thinking and technology are as commonplace as was the production of textiles 100 years ago.

In the below video, a massive leap in our reach for the stars is branded identically to Further Future. Maybe we've reached peak alt. Maybe shiny, corporate, controlled, and relentlessly bounding into the greatest unknown, maybe Space-X, is a better representative of our current zeitgeist than a staunchly counterculture hippyfest. And maybe Robot Heart gets that.

My personal journey back to giddy anticipation at the prospect of experiencing this new kind of festival has revealed to me, in a way like nothing before it, the extent to which in our modern era we run a real risk of allowing the fantastic to become banal, and of forgetting that the further we go, the more we live in the future every day.