1st Annual Desert Oasis Recap

The sun was shining bright and the temperature was hot for the 1st Annual Desert Oasis Music Festival in Indio, California on October 7 and 8. The lineup revolved around reggae and rock, with Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley headlining on Saturday and Rebelution headlining Sunday. The festival started each day at 2PM. The first band to play was Courtney Chambers on the Mecca stage, followed by Janelle Phillips at 2:30PM on the Mirage stage. Both bands used heavy female vocals, with Janelle Phillips pumping out some sweet reggae music. HIRIE opened the main Oasis Stage and impressed the crowd with their popular R&B style vocals combined with classic reggae riffs in the background. Despite the penetrating sun, each performance was on point and got concertgoers pumped.

Despite the penetrating sun, each performance was on point and got concertgoers pumped.

David Macias Music was next up on the Mecca Stage around 3PM. Mixing Latin rock with hints of reggae music, this band’s energy was undeniable! Not only did the band include a violinist and electric-acoustic guitar player, their sound was very unique. Fishbone, of course, is such a distinctive performing band, there is no doubt their crowd had fun—especially with those ska horns. Murs is a solo hip hop musician who is also quite unique, utilizing a laptop for beats while spitting verses and lyrics. The Green took to the Mirage Stage next and really set the reggae-rock tone for the evening, playing such songs as “Never”, “Rootsie Roots”, and tracks off their upcoming album, Marching Orders. LA’s Los Lobos did fans of Latin rock a favor by playing music inspired by south of the border. Of course, Desert Oasis instilled a good amount of Latin music, which Indio seemed to enjoy. Los Lobos also covered Sublime’s “Pawn Shop” and Latin classic “Volver, Volver”. Following world music, reggae, Latin and rock acts, E-40 hit the Mirage Stage to bring some Bay Area hip hop to the festival. Indeed, the sizable crowd enjoyed the ol’ school jams, which set the evening up nicely for Steel Pulse and globally renowned Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley. Marley even played some new jams off his Stony Hill album – what a treat!

Onto Sunday and back to reggae-rock business with the first band, Irie Junctions, on the Mecca Stage. The young members played roots-reggae and utilized heavy dub, with a slight Latin influence. Next up on the Mirage Stage was a very energetic ska band called Spankshaft; Top Shelf Reggae was able to find out how that band came up with their name, and it was the usual ‘let’s choose this name, mix it with this word, and voilà, Spankshaft it is!’ Not that the band needed to explain themselves, since their ska music spoke for itself… San Diego band Though the Roots opened up the Oasis Stage after that, and just like HIRIE, had to face the penetrating sun. They still managed to do a good job, uplifting the crowd and setting the day for more contemporary reggae-rock music. Back at the Mecca Stage, Rick Sheldon was playing some folk music from the East Coast. Their fans ate it right up: enjoying the different, yet welcomed harmony of more country-style music. Next up was Inner Circle, a band originally from Jamaica, but who now calls Miami, Florida home. These ‘bad boys of reggae’ (as they notoriously call themselves, after such hits as “Bad Boys” and “Sweat (A La La La La Long,”) brought that sweet, tropical vibe. Their ‘bad boy’ affiliation may also be due to their loud and proud stance on the legalization of cannabis. Either way, their hot-stepping reggae appeared to be unmatched that day. Mozaiq closed down the Mecca Stage for the weekend, a mobile stage sponsored by Ernie Ball. The band played heavy blues mixed with some reggae, and a good band to watch for an early, sunset dinner. Then, there was Fortunate Youth on the Oasis Stage, who played all of their fan favorites, including “Love is the Most High”, “Burn One”, and “One Love”. Right after Fortunate Youth came hip hop artist Warren G on the Mirage Stage. For anyone who is familiar with his music and collaborations, he did not disappoint when it came to bringing back ‘90’s hip hop. He played popular tracks, as well as those he collaborated with in LA. Then, it was back to the Oasis Stage for a band called Kinky, who not only wowed their fans, but those who were not as familiar with such a Latin-electro type of band.

Known for their high-energy horn section and feel-good music, the Rebelution boys are pioneers in showing any reggae-rock crowd a great time. 

What a way to start the Sunday evening – for the rest of the lineup included Reel Big Fish, J Boog, and Rebelution! Reel Big Fish was the last band to perform on the Mirage Stage for the weekend, and did not disappoint! Known for their ska music and quirkiness, this band performed their hearts out and made the audience laugh, too. Utilizing their skills to play other band’s hit songs, the band confused their spectators by claiming to play their ‘hits’, while really playing others. It was quite enjoyable! Island music returned with J Boog taking on the Oasis Stage, and making his fans fall in love with his songs all over again. The audience swayed to his island reggae music while singing their hearts out. And, then there was Rebelution to end the Desert Oasis Music Festival weekend. Though Rebelution is one of the most popular reggae-rock bands in the industry, a festival does not seem like a festival without having this band close the night—let alone the entire weekend! Known for their high-energy horn section and feel-good music, the Rebelution boys are pioneers in showing any reggae-rock crowd a great time. With dedicated fans, Rebelution continued to play various hit tracks that left smiles on their fans’ faces when it was time to go. Who can blame them, with that infectious energy and good-vibing music? Top Shelf Reggae agrees with Desert Oasis Music Festival when it comes to leaving fans feeling good, sending them off with some of the best reggae-rock vibes – send them with gold!

Until next year, reggae, rock and hip hop fans! Stay tuned for daily galleries of Year 1 Desert Oasis, coming soon. 

Photography by Kristy Rose

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