Desert Rocks Survival Guide | Music | Salt Lake City Weekly

Desert Rocks Survival Guide 

Prep for the 3-day Moab music party

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You’ve decided to do Desert Rocks this year?

Wise choice, young Jedi, but aware you must be.

Desert Rocks is a camping trip in the desert. Many bad things can happen. Be prepared and prevent unnecessary evils from entering your life.

This is your unofficial Desert Rocks Survival Guide. I’ve divided the article into two sections: “Preparation” and “The Experience.” To give an accurate picture, I received help from the man in charge, John Ripley, and the local bands that perform at%uFFFDDesert%uFFFDRocks%uFFFDyear after year including Spell Talk, Stonefed, Wisebird, Velvetones, Scenic Byway, Junior and Transportation, and Marinade.

This year there will be more “first-timers” than ever before. Read on and take notes.


First-timer list of necessities:

Water. About one gallon per day – you’ll drink, cook with, and clean with this water.
Food. Bring plenty of food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night munchies. There will be food vendors, so you don’t need to bring food if you don’t mind eating the same stuff every day.

Stove and cookware. If you plan on preparing your own food, bring the appropriate items to prepare and eat the food. Fires aren’t permitted at most of the campsites, so bring a stove. %uFFFD

Summer clothes. It gets hot during the day. Pull out that colorful shirt you’re too embarrassed to wear in society. No one cares here.

Warm clothes. It gets very cold at night. Bring a hat, a warm jacket, and pants. I was with unprepared people last year and it really sucked for them.

Headlamp or flashlight. I prefer walking by moonlight, but when you’re walking in sandals among prickly pear in canyon country, a light can come in handy.

Sleeping supplies. Pad, tent, sleeping bag, and a pillow (you’ll sleep much better with a pillow).

Ear plugs. The music goes all night long. If you plan on sleeping during the night, you should definitely have ear plugs. An eye mask is very helpful for those daylight naps.

Something to swim in. Ken’s Lake is a relatively short drive away.

Sunscreen, sunglasses and a sun hat. It’s the desert, there’s sun.

Ice and a cooler. Food and beverages need preservation.

Veteran list of optional necessities:

Tent canopy for shade. You know that you’ve sat underneath someone else’s canopy for much of the festival. Now it’s your turn to bring one and host some first-timers of your own.

Portable seats. Some people like to sit down and listen to music (three days of dancing can get a little tiring).

Solar-powered generator. Now that these are affordable, they’re popping up more and more at music festivals. With one of these, you can experience the luxuries of electricity (a blended beverage is delightful on a hot summer day in the desert).

Costumes. Yes, plural. Three days, three nights. That can translate into a lot of costumes for the die-hard festivarians. This party is part-carnival and people like to have fun. Don’t be afraid to get crazy. Last year, our campsite mates had a blender and costumes. They were awesome!

Something to do. Musical instruments, Frisbee, knitting, dancing, stilting, fire throwing, etc. It’s more fun if you participate in the mayhem.

Outdoor equipment. Yes, you’re among world-class climbing, mountain biking, hiking and river rafting.

The Experience:

I’ve interviewed the folks who make this festival happen each year. I’ve got John Ripley, co-founder of the festival; Andrew Milne from Spell Talk; Jon%uFFFDOlschewski from Stonefed; Talia Keys from Marinade; Junior from Junior and Transportation; Tony Holiday from Velvetones; Scenic Byway; and Nicholas Boyer from Puddle Mountain Ramblers all contributing their perspectives to these questions. V

City Weekly: What, in your opinion, is Desert%uFFFDRocks all about?

Spell Talk:%uFFFDIt is a modern communal gathering featuring and focusing on awesome live music.

Scenic Byway: A nonstop party!!

Stonefed:%uFFFDDesert%uFFFDRocks%uFFFDis different, right out of the gate, from other festivals.

John Ripley (JR): It’s%uFFFDultimate freedom,%uFFFDgood times, and positive vibes.

Velvetones: A timeless weekend in the%uFFFDdesert.

Marinade: It’s a magical, musical, whimsical, mysterious, nature-ious, delicious, amazing extravaganza!

Stonefed: You feel a magic that is unattainable, yet is always there.

Junior: And the amazing%uFFFDdesert%uFFFDof Utah makes a great backdrop.

Puddle Mountain Ramblers: A three-day raging party in a beautiful spot!

Spell Talk: You get to camp out with your crew, meet new people, and talk about life.

CW: What is your favorite memory of%uFFFDDesert%uFFFDRocks?

Marinade: It’s really hard to just have one!

Scenic Byway: We’ve had many memorable and non-rememberable moments of pure awesomeness.

Puddle: Personally, hopping up on stage and playing with Will Webster and Timmi Cruz at sunrise during the first%uFFFDDesert%uFFFDRocks. It’s difficult to narrow it down, though!

Scenic Byway: Our first year there we played during the gnarliest rain storm of the weekend! We dealt with crazy flash floods.

Marinade: I love Timmi Cruz's early-morning lullabies, and watching the sunrises with the one I love, who I fell in love with at%uFFFDDesert%uFFFDRocks! Magic!

CW: Every year at Desert Rocks, there is a set called Guitarred and Feathered. What is Guitarred and Feathered?

Marinade: A super jam at end of the festival with some of my favorite musicians,

Stonefed: It’s sometimes called, Guitarles in Charge. It has traditionally always closed the festival and featured Stonefed and Wisebird collaborating. Maybe some stuff with The Pourhorse too!

Marinade: I loved jamming with Guitarred and Feathered.

CW: Which act are you looking forward to the most for this year?

Puddle: I'm always excited for Wisebird and Stonefed. Both bands have played every year of the festival as well, and they always bring their A game.
Scenic Byway: Chali 2na and People Under the Stairs for sure, they always kill it.

Junior: I am hoping to see a new band I haven’t had the chance to hear and hopefully be inspired by all the musicians.

Marinade: Hard to answer! So many amazing bands!! The Motet, People Under The Stairs, Chali 2na, Stonefed, Wisebird, Dead Horse, Velvetones, and a little band called%uFFFDMarinade%uFFFD;)

VELVETONES: I am looking forward to every act there. I have shared the stage with most of them and watched a lot of the others for years. There are always fresh new bands coming up that are amazing.

Stonefed: Mostly, I look forward to the acts I have not yet heard. They are always what gets me. I really loved JGB with Melvin last year, and that was my first live JGB, though I always loved the '80s recordings.

CW: What can the first-timers expect?

JR: We do continue to see growth in first-timers . . . are expecting several this year as our core group of fans has done a great job in spreading the word about the festival (big thanks to all of you out there). The newcomers can expect%uFFFDultimate freedom . . . As the entire festival population begins to share in the energy the musicians and surrounding landscape are exuding, a snowball effect rapidly takes over resulting in an explosion of natural ecstatic emotion that brings the whole audience%uFFFDinto a beautiful and blissful state of being.

Scenic Byway: A nonstop party!!

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