About 40,000 attendees poured into the Neon Desert Music Festival grounds this past weekend, transforming the heart of Downtown into a high decibel party.
NDMFers had the choice of several stages, which, like a good playlist, featured national and local artists of different genres summoning all their chops to put on a good show.
Those looking to dance in the shade to cool beats hung out in the Silent Disco area, where music was exclusive to the participants thanks to the magic of blue tooth headphones.
Other entertainment included the vibrant colors of live art, skateboarders catching air and exhilarating lucha libre matches.
Day one was slightly blemished with the cancelation of hip hop artist Lil Uzi Vert, but local hip-hop hero Evander Griiim saved the day and put on a show like a true pro. His single “Right Now” was even covered by the mega hot Migos the following night.
All the locals killed it at their San Jacinto Plaza stage. The Paso Del Norte Stage near Cleveland Square Park arguably had the greatest variety throughout the fest. Bogan Via, for example, captivated their audience with dreamy, indie-electronic beats.
Phoenix-based Mija and her sassy electronic music had the crowd going nuts. Her mixes were intensely interesting and there was hardly a dull moment in her playful set.
Day one’s headliners reflected the festival’s mission to provide tunes for the region’s diverse tastes. Young rapper Logic, Swedish DJ Alesso and Venezuelan rock legends Los Amigos Invisibles couldn’t be more different from each other, but they were a perfect eclectic mix for a fest like Neon Desert.
On Sunday, underground hip-hop star Snow Tha Product delivered a fiery crowd-hyping set, spitting verses at super human speeds with full control of the stage.
Ty Segall shook up the Paso Del Norte Stage exhibiting crunchy psychedelic riffs and gonzo guitar solos with mind-blowing double lead guitar work lacing some of the songs.
A quick trek to the Franklin Mountains stage (near the Chase building) featured Khalid delivering his smooth modern R&B tunes to a ginormous crowd.
After Khalid, it was back to the Paso Del Norte Stage to catch a little bit of Porter, an indie rock band from Guadalajara, Mexico. They were a trippy act to see with their spacey vocals. Austin duo Ghostland Observatory, gradually becoming legends in their own right, entranced the audience with their laser light show and songs that blended the best elements of dance and rock jams.
Migos’ high energy show had the crowd jamming and singing along to their verses word for word. Mon Laferte provided an upbeat dance party with a ska-like nod to Selena’s “Si Una Vez.” The fest closed with sets by LA-based indie group Foster the People, and Hardwell, a mega popular Dutch DJ.
Neon Desert’s international lineup reflected El Paso’s unique culture – a border city with a military base and national crossroad that has built up a diverse international population. While the fest has become a way for locals to familiarize themselves with the Downtown area and its improvements, it also exposes attendees to different music by keeping a nice sprinkling of indie and underground artists amongst the more established headliners. Some would have never known about Porter or Mon Laferte if it weren’t for this fest. Neon Desert brought the good times and a healthy mix of genres.The only element missing is metal. Slayer or Mastodon, anyone?