Desert Hearts Brought the Mojave to Brooklyn on Their New York City Debut
House, Techno, Love, and Bagels – The desert hits the big city.
Photos by Emma Trim
New Yorkers weren't really sure what to expect when West Coast party crew Desert Hearts descended on the urban jungle for the very first time this past weekend. Consisting of Southern California-based DJs Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Marbs, Deep Jesus, and Porkchop, the collective has caught serious acclaim over the last couple years for their nonstop 72-hour house and techno extravaganzas that erupt bi-annually at the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, located just outside their native San Diego. The group brings their ethos of "House, Techno and Love" to clubs around Californian hubs like LA, San Diego, and San Francisco for events aptly named "City Hearts," but their sold out jaunt to Washington DC and New York was a new frontier for the hotly tipped posse.
On Saturday, May 2, the squad brought their wigged-out desert vibes to Brooklyn's Good Room. For a crew built upon a lifeblood of classically left-coast and endlessly dusty (post-)burner vibes, their long-awaited Eastern manifestation to the unforgiving streets of the Big Apple was an ambitious introduction. Here's what went down:
The music throughout the crew's invasion of the barely year-old Greenpoint nightclub, Good Room, was undeniably stellar, but the atmosphere—a Shangri-La meets Saturday Night Fever-ish spectacle—is what has been responsible for the rapid success of Desert Hearts as a unit. We caught up with top-hatted crew member Mikey Lion who stressed the importance of maintaining the Desert Hearts aesthetic in the club atmosphere. He threw out words like "Moroccan themed," the application of which we can attest to after losing ourselves on the disco-ball lit, tapestry-laden dance floor. The diversity of the crowd was also a sight to behold as crunchy burners seamlessly mixed in with an array of Brooklyn club rats, all bobbing in unison as they basked in the ethereal, yet pounding blend of sound.
While the headliners of the evening were New York based deep-house honcho Butane and San Francisco-based Robot Heart regular Atish, who both played seriously enjoyable sets of melodic deep house, we'll let you in on a little secret of Desert Hearts: the residents always steal the show. From their opening set in which Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, and Porkchop joyously ushered in shawl-wearing guys and gals, the energy in the room began to rise, and it never skipped a beat.
Deep Jesus and Marbs later joined in tandem for a stunning b2b set filled with deep and progressive house melodies that propelled a trippy daze over the entire room—you couldn't remotely help but get lost in their tantalizing rhythms. At one point they even dropped a Fleetwood Mac remix that had the crowd (and ourselves) testing the limits of our vocal cords. The transitions throughout the evening were seamless, the motifs cohesive, and the vibe endlessly entrancing.
Even 1,000 miles away from the California desert ground from which they were born, the Desert Hearts crew's NYC edition succeeded in maintaining the energy that's quickly made them a household name in their geographic region. When Mikey, Lee, and 'Chop, again took reins of the controls to close out the night (as they nearly always do at their events), their set felt like a glory lap of sorts. The crew had succeeded in a difficult task: taking something that is native to a very specific place and demographic, picking it up, and putting it somewhere very different.
For one night, their motto of "House, Techno and Love," transcended state lines and the barren desert of California and urban grit of Brooklyn came together as one. We all, truly, were Desert Hearts.
Harrison Williams is on Twitter