Desert Daze, Day Two, Saturday October 14th 2017
Second day at the festival and I am getting used to the landscape, the heat, the dust and the cold, and since Friday was a tough one, I decided to go for quality instead of quantity on Saturday, meaning less bands and less walking. Iggy Pop was headlining the day, so I wasn’t gonna kill myself before 10:15 pm, the time of his set. And since there were restrictions photo-wise – no photographers were actually allowed in the pit in front of the stage during his set – I didn’t want to miss anything of the Ig-man, and secured my spot at the rail, way before he came on the Moon stage. But the lineup there was excellent, so I was not complaining.
I missed a few of the early afternoon bands, but who can cover everyone at a festival? So I arrived for Camera, an interesting band, which was throbbing a krautrock-y psychedelia into endless loops of drums, fluid keyboard and sparse guitar. They were quite experimental at the end and purely instrumental but they were certainly not for the short-span-attention people, they finally got into distortion, scratching metal against an amp, with a spooky organ and even a gong, sprawling their slow-developing noise into a meditation-like soundscape.
There were a lot of people gathered in front of the Moon stage to see Thurston Moore Group, and they were right. Even though I have never listened to Sonic Youth very much, the tone of his songs, sung with a smoky deep voice, was very recognizable. ‘This song is about replacing gun stores by book stores’ he told us looking as youthful as ever,.. I noticed he had sheet lyrics he was checking before each song. Many songs started with delicate intricate guitars (almost Television-like) before going into darker Sonic-Youth-y textures. He almost lost me during a major noise-distortion-guitar-scratching episode that lasted a few good minutes as if he wanted to prove he was still the man, but his last song ‘one for the goddess’ (and it may have been ‘Circulation’) was an impressive piece of noisy persistent guitar.
The Gories were from Detroit, so it was a good day for them to play a few hours before Iggy, and honestly there was a bit of Stooges in their guitar-oriented garage rock, screams and pounding drums. They had a vintage wild rock ‘n’ roll sound going very 50s at times, and overall their punk blues was very entertaining.
I spent the rest of the day holding the rail at the Moon stage, but I was front row for one of the main attraction of the festival: the metal band Sleep, and honestly, it’s difficult to go more male than them. They did play their entire album ‘Holy Mountain’, during a very amp-ed set, as there was a wall of Marshall amps behind guitarist Mike Pike, who looked so badass, holding his guitar high, the neck facing the vertical, looking like a soldier at the opposite side of the stage where bassist Al Cisneros was adding sludgeness to the doomer and the most impressive set of the night,… I am sorry to say that but in comparison Ty Segall really looks like a baby. Their music sounded like a sort of stoner Black Sabbath, with very long and riff-heavy songs, complicated grinding detours going into fuzz and chaos, sounding like a mystical experience.
If people were reasonably rowdy during Sleep, hell broke loose during King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s set… I barely survived at the rail and the storm of dust that followed will probably feed my allergies for a year, but, at the risk to sound crazy, it was worth it! The Gizzard Wizards mix about everything in their music, psych rock, surf, progressive rock (with a flute episode) and much more. But to me, these freak-out episodes during which the singer was shaking his head or charging the rest of the band with his guitar as if he was holding a gun, were very Thee-Oh-Sees-like, and the fact there were two drummers facing each other on stage, was also adding to the comparison. The Australian band couldn’t believe they were sandwiched between Sleep and Iggy, and they gave the maximum of their looped-heavy music, with songs which seemed to last until 50% of the crowd had landed in the pit, and until my ribs were completely crushed against the rail. I have bruises this morning.
After King Gizzard, Iggy Pop was the obvious punk king of the night, and if I have seen him a few times lately (Punk Rock Bowling, FYF fest), this new show was one of the most fired-up I have seen so far. Well, he is always wild, but this was quite a performance for a 70-year-old man. With his wrinkled Florida-beach bun body, his slick ironed blonde hair, he has become the new youth’s hero, and he could not get enough of all these young girls crowd-surfing to the pit just to be able to touch his hand before being brutally caught by security guards. As expected, the set was chaos from start to finish and Iggy always shows how a headlining set should be, a search-and-destroy experience with his excellent band in the back burning all the Stooges hits as if they were played for the last time. Meanwhile Pop stage dives (yes, he still does it), kicks the air with his legs, trash-limps his way from right to left, moves like a wild animal and jumps in the pit to please everyone in the front rows – and I exchanged a handshake with the godfather of punk that lasted a few good seconds. His set was long with an encore of three songs, and no real surprises in the set list, all the Stooges hits were there (I Wanna Be Your Dog’, ‘Gimme Danger’, ‘I’m Sick of You’. ‘Search and Destroy’, ‘No Fun’, ‘!969’…) plus the most famous ones of his solo career ‘The Passenger’, ‘Lust for Life’,… and that ‘Gardenia’ song from ‘Post Pop Depression’, that he must like very much, … at this point the only risk Iggy Pop is taking has to be in his stage antics. But who cares, people were all over him, and that blue-hair girl he brought on stage during ‘I’m Sick of You’ will probably have memories for her life-time. Iggy can do whatever he wants, he knows that, he is the undoubtful king of punk, and even though he fell down on the drumset at one point, he is not ready to give up his title.
More pictures here