It’s been three years since the Moon Block Party collective threw their first free event at the Downtown Pomona Arts Colony with over 50 acts including notables such as Strangers Family Band, Allah-Las, Halloween Swim Team, Austin Peralta & Strangeloop, Sugarpill, and Jobot.
They went on to host the ambitious 11-day Desert Daze Festival at a roadhouse in Desert Hot Springs, about 30 miles from (and concurrent with) the double-weekend Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Desert Daze has since scaled down from theit 120+ act debut festival to a one day/night blowout focused on rare headliners.
This year’s installment, for instance, saw performances from Blonde Redhead, Liars, and the elusive Vincent Gallo, who played his whole set with his back to the audience.
A couple of West Coast tours down the road, Moon Block is returning to their home base in Pomona for a October 18 party at the Fairplex featuring headliners Spoon, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Black Angels, Band of Skulls, Black Lips, Tinariwen, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, among about 13 others.
Leading up to the event, the Reader spoke briefly with organizer Phil Pirrone of LA psych rock outfit JJUUJJUU about what it takes to host nonstop parties for a living.
Chad Deal: How did you manage to throw a free street fair with a super stacked lineup as your debut event and how does that compare with what we'll be seeing at the Fairplex?
Phil Pirrone: Mostly friends' bands played the free block parties, so everyone came together to keep it free. Now, we have national and international acts, much higher levels of production, and some incredible visual art. It's going to feel pretty similar but look and sound 100x better.
CD: I know from experience that organizing festivals can be extremely chaotic and frustrating, where everything seems to be going wrong. Has this been your experience at times as well? How many people are in the Moon Block Party team and how do you ensure that everything goes as planned?
PP: Yeah, festivals aren't easy. It's like a film production in a way. There's a million moving parts and it's constant damage control. You very quickly learn to stop expecting things to go right and instead just become more and more prepared for finding solutions.
There's 3 of us that work on this full time, another 10 in the core crew, and about 100 or so returning festival staff [including a growing collective of artists and musicians such as members of Deap Vally, Fever the Ghost, Mystic Braves, Death Hymn Number 9, and Corners].
CD: What advice do you have for mini fest organizers who are still figuring the game out?
PP: Be smart but take risks.
Tickets, on-site camping, and hotel packages are available online.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
The Black Angels
Band of Skulls
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Christian Bland & The Revelators
Lorelle Meets The Obsolete
Death Hymn Number 9
Orchestra of Spheres
And special guests.