Lightning Cuts California Psych-Rock Festival Desert Daze Short

Festival organizers are going ahead with days 2-3 after Tame Impala's Friday headlining set was abruptly halted after three songs, frustrating many attendees who'd just waited three hours or longer to get in.

After an abrupt and chaotic end to Day 1 of the Desert Daze festival that had Tame Impala’s headlining set cut off just three songs in, organizers have announced that the second and third days will proceed, as thunderstorms move out of southern California.

Nerves were already on edge among some fest-goers on Friday even before lightning and rain brought an end to the day’s music 15 minutes into Tame Impala’s 10 p.m. performance. Social media was filled with tweeters complaining of 3-to-4 hours waits to get into the parking lot, with some saying they missed multiple acts and got in just in time to see that abortive set from the headliners, only be directed back to their cars in the storm. The festival used its web page and social accounts Friday night to warn exiting attendees who had already erected tents in the camping area that it was unsafe to stay there, urging them to drive or call rideshares to find hotels, or, barring that, sleep in their cars.

But Saturday morning, the all-clear was given. Shortly before noon, Desert Daze’s Twitter account announced that “day two of Desert Daze is set to begin as scheduled and we hope everyone had a safe remainder of the night. All Friday passes will be honored today and parking will remain free all weekend…. The show will go on!”

Now in its seventh year, Desert Daze has been positioned as a smaller, looser, weirder and more heady or psychedelic alternative to the Coachella Festival held in the same vicinity every April. This year marked a move to the Lake Perris State Recreation Area after earlier editions of the festival took place in Joshua Tree and North Palm Springs.

The promoters said that at least a few of the bands whose Friday shows were canceled would be rescheduled during the remaining two days, although Tame Impala would not be one of them. (The band has a Sunday night headlining gig set at the Treasure Island festival in Oakland.) Among the acts set to play Saturday and Sunday are Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Mercury Rev and Ty Segall. The Saturday schedule promised music that would last until 5:45 a.m. Sunday morning, starting up again at noon, after late-morning sessions of “metal yoga,” “modular soundbaths” and “healing meditation” — something that might be especially needed to smooth over the bad vibes many ticketholders are feeling.

Among the attendee comments on Twitter Saturday morning: “So sad to have such harsh feelings against something I used to love and respect so much. Everything about this year has been trash including the three ridiculous hrs we waited TO GET IN.” “Are you guys really keeping the festival going?!!? After the 4-hour, 3-mile parking fiasco yesterday, how are you going to not let that happen again? Wifey and I are out the cost of two Azurite passes and not even going to get trapped in that line again today!!” “Tempting, but I can’t drive 3 hours and sit in a parking lot line for another 3 hours today. I’ll take a refund though.”

Not everyone had a terrible time, though, as some saw the storm as romantic, lack of a musical soundtrack notwithstanding.

“It’s funny watching all these young couples/hookups falling out of cars this morning after getting caught in the rain last night. So many Desert Daze babies next year,” tweeted an amused attendee. Wrote another woman: “Unpopular opinion: Desert Daze was actually kinda fun? Tame Impala played one of my fave songs, watched what I thought was a beautiful lightning storm, and had a Notebook moment with a hot guy in the rain.”

Tame Impala posted this apology to their fans on Instagram:


UPDATE: Desert Daze issued the following statement to Variety Saturday afternoon:

We’ve been planning our move to Lake Perris for many months and are working side-by-side with Park Rangers to make this a special and safe event.

“Last night, due to extreme lightning storms rolling in a few songs after the start of Tame Impala’s set, we unfortunately had to ask all guests to exit the Desert Daze grounds, return to their cars and seek shelter to remain safe. We worked closely with CalFire, Park Rangers and meteorologists to  make the difficult decision to halt the show and immediately implement our event’s contingency plan. We decided to end the remainder of the evening’s programming once it was clear the weather was going to continue to be a safety issue. The safety of our guests is our top priority.
“We also acknowledge that patrons experienced difficulties entering the venue in a timely fashion and we have been proactive in trying to resolve this. We redirected all vehicles to Transition Road and Via Del Lago, changed the location of the Main Box Office, and shifted all campers to be processed directly via the camping entry, alleviating some of the congestion. All parties involved are confident that this new strategy for getting fans into the Moreno Beach grounds during the remainder of the festival will be faster and more efficient. Parking will remain free for the remainder of the weekend and all Friday Single Day tickets will be honored today, Saturday, October 13.
“Due to scheduling, Tame Impala will not be performing today or tomorrow, and we are working with the rest of the Friday evening performers to reschedule as many of them as possible. Updates will be shared via social media and via the Desert Daze app.
“The Desert Daze staff spent the rest of the night and morning remaining available to any patrons in need of assistance and preparing the grounds for a safe and enjoyable second day on site at Moreno Beach, Lake Perris State Recreation Area. The Desert Daze grounds are open today and we look forward to welcoming fans back for the rest of the weekend.”

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