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Desert Daze Caravan (II)

Photography by Lewis Murray

In its second consecutive year, Desert Daze Caravan has returned to San Diego, California. Now met with Listen SD’s anniversary, The House of Blues opened its doors to its Voodoo-esque theater. Initially intended to be followed by numerous touring acts, the Caravan’s resulted in supporting local psychadelic music, with two of the most prominent bands of the garage rock/shoegaze scene. DIIV and Ariel Pink, bands from opposite coasts of the country, placed together as one to revive the dreams and trips curated by the one and only, Desert Daze.

The show was supported by Los Shadow and Spooky Cigarette, two of the most prominent indie rock bands the San Diego punk scene has to offer.

I came to the show excited and a bit in denial of what the night had to offer. I have never seen DIIV live, and I wasn’t very familiar with Ariel Pink as I was with John Maus, so it was definitely an experimental event I was waiting to witness.

Los Shadows were met with a loud supportive crowd. A crowd that seemed very proud of seeing their favorite house show headliners open up for such a legendary band as Ariel Pink. With tracks like ‘The Times’, Los Shadows led a reverb filled dance party that showed the crowd what National City had to offer. With dripping chorus effects and funky bass lines, Los Shadows attempted to pick up the crowd through their time as the openers. Nevertheless, their efforts were successful and resulted with a room full of dancing by the end.

Spooky Cigarette, a now highly respected local indie rock band, stunned the crowd with nods to New Wave, Synth Wave, and even Ariel Pink alike! Led by their frontman, Frank, their stage presence was vibrant and very alive. Though most visually stunning, I’d say their guitarist, Pepe, held the crowd up as many would regard him as a local favorite. Wearing his stylish Adidas track suit, he wooed the crowd with his heart shaped glasses. Spooky Cigarette introduced the astral atmosphere that the Caravan anticipated to demonstrate as part of their tour. Taking on tracks from their most recent record, As Loud As I Can, a dreamy yet distorted setting drowned the HOB. Though whimsical in nature, but heavy in its presence, Spooky Cigarette delivered one of their best sets.

As the show continued, we were met with Don Bolles’ DJ set, one which in my opinion was quite memorable. He’d play several tracks alluding to the early 80s psych rock and funk, which really added on to the mood for some people around me.

DIIV arrived a few minutes late,  understandable due to San Diego’s painstaking traffic. But the show went on – the crowd did not mind! Colin, Ruben, Andrew and Zach were met with a warm welcome, though when their set first started, people weren’t sure if they were running a soundcheck or not. Surprisingly, it was their opening song. The sound seemed muffled, but it was unclear if that was the intended effect. It was strange, knowing DIIV for delivering such high paced shows, to have opened with such an odd effect. Nevertheless, the crowd jumped in excitement and finally opened the pit. Touching singles from their most recent LP, Is The Is Are, and Oshin, DIIV attempted to revive the same sound as they have in past years. The venue did it justice. Once ‘Doused’ began, the crowd picked up. DIIV proved themselves to San Diego and the crowd was thankful.

Suddenly. You see a black and white figure over the heads of the concert-goers. It’s big and furry. It’s That Fucking Panda. Listen SD’s star of the night is crowdsurfing to DIIV at the House of Blues, for its own anniversary show. The crowd goes wild now!

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Lastly. The Legend of the night. The savior of all the psych-rock junkies out there. The mystical, multi-instrumentalist mastermind, Ariel Pink, emerged to the stage. As whimsical and magical as the night seemed, he arose with a reflective silver cape and denim short shorts that stated the oddity that is Ariel Pink. His presence himself got the venue on its feet. From people shouting “Elton John” to others calling Bellos, “Alice Cooper” the rest of the show revolved around the fun and ecstatic energy emoted by Ariel Pink.

Filling in no more than 20 songs, he incorporated tracks from his highly respected ‘Pom Pom’ to his most recently released ‘Dedicated to Bobby Jameson’ albums. Each shocked the audience with its spectacle. Stomping, Jumping, Pounding, and even flashing stage lights in his face, Ariel Pink radiated all of his might. With songs like ‘Another Weekend’ and “Baby’, the crowd swayed and jumped, attempting to lure the Los Angeles native into what seemed a crowdsurfing infested San Diegan pit. With no waves in sight, such an attempt fell short unsuccessfully since Pink’s own voice was lost in the mix. With the close barely striking 10:35PM, Ariel Pink stopped the night, slightly earlier than expected.

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In addition, I challenged Colin Caulfield to a game of Rock Paper Scissors. Though tired, he was willing to play a round. Ironically, we hit scissors and rocks for three tries until I hit him with a rock to his fourth scissors.

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