5 Favorite Musical Memories of Desert Hearts Spring Festival 2016

Desert Hearts is an experience unlike any other, earning a reputation as one of America's best festival offerings.
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Desert Hearts is an experience unlike any other, earning a reputation as one of America's best festival offerings.
Lee Reynolds. Photo by Juliana Bernstein.

Lee Reynolds. Photo by Juliana Bernstein.

The Desert Hearts crew has been putting on their twice-annual festival for a while now, and it's been renowned by all who are blessed enough to attend. Dancing Astronaut named the festival their #1 US festival of the year, and for good reason. Last year, we interviewed Mikey Lion, the Desert Hearts crew's leader whose top hat has become a perennial sign of good times. Here are our favorite musical memories from this year's spring incarnation of Desert Hearts.

5. Latmun tore it down.

Latmun. Photo by Wobsarazzi.

Latmun. Photo by Wobsarazzi.

It's safe to say that Latmun's "Def" has become one of the biggest tracks of 2016. Skream b2b Lee Foss dropped it at Ultra Music Festival in March, and luminaries like Claude vonStroke keep the record at the top of their USBs these days. For all this acclaim, he's still a producer's producer, but slowly garnering an audience of his own. Following an excellent Friday set from MANIK, Latmun proceeded to bring the audience of Desert Hearts to its knees, contorting the energy of his tracks every possible way in a monstrous set that should help earn more live bookings for the upstart musician.

4. Joyce Muniz took on an extended set.

Joyce Muniz. Photo by Galen Oakes.

Joyce Muniz. Photo by Galen Oakes.

Joyce Muniz had her midnight set pushed back forty minutes on account of Latmun (no one wanted to push him off the decks), but due to Extrawelt's last-minute cancellation, she ended up playing until almost 4 AM. We featured her InDeep mix last year and noted her world-ranging musical influences, all of which were on display during this fantastic set.

3. Porkchop slayed.

Porkchop. Photo by Wobsarazzi.

Porkchop. Photo by Wobsarazzi.

One by one, each of the Desert Hearts crew members took the stage starting at 4 PM on Saturday. The crew's closer was Porkchop, Mikey Lion's younger brother. Easily my favorite set of the entire festival, Porkchop repeatedly shocked me and the rest of the dance floor with his heartfelt picks and transitions while he held the entire set together like glue with a number of squeaking rhythms and effects. At the set's climax, he allowed all the energy to coalesce during a three-minute shift into the classic Boys Noize remix of Feist's "My Moon My Man". Epic.

2. The Desert Hearts crew closing set brought everyone together.

The entire Desert Hearts crew (Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Deep Jesus, Porkchop, and Marbs) closed out the festival on Monday by playing back-to-back together for an extended afternoon set:

1. All the tributes to Pumpkin kept his memory alive.

One of the Pumpkin tribute areas. Photo by Juliana Bernstein.

One of the Pumpkin tribute areas. Photo by Juliana Bernstein.

Throughout the festival, the most touching stories were shared about Pumpkin, may he rest in peace. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but his presence and spirit could be felt transcending over the entire festival. By far, that was my biggest takeaway: how special Pumpkin must have been, and how much he meant to the Desert Hearts family. It says a lot to me, that such a loss could be so distinctly felt by an outsider. Maybe it's because Desert Hearts doesn't distinguish between insiders and outsiders: its family is welcoming and open. If you are going to Lightning in a Bottle this weekend, there appears to be a Pumpkin tribute scheduled at the Woogie stage for Saturday at 10 AM, which I recommend that all should attend.

Tara Brooks & Deep Jesus hold up a photo of Pumpkin. Photo by Galen Oakes.

Tara Brooks & Deep Jesus hold up a photo of Pumpkin. Photo by Galen Oakes.

Watch Jacob Avanzato's excellent video recap of the festival here:

PS. By coincidence, Desert Hearts has released almost all of these sets on its Soundcloud already except for Porkchop. Desert Hearts crew, if you're reading this, please release Porkchop's set next: the world really needs to hear it.