By Gavin McDermott and Tigerlily
Rose Entertainment‘s Desert Hearts Takeover: Portland brought the energy and chaos of a full festival to a sold-out Bossanova Ballroom, showcasing the best of the festival’s beats and community vibes. As we approached the venue it was clear this was no ordinary show, with outlandish costumes and a buzz of excitement filling the sidewalks.
But like any good festival story, chaos and missteps went hand in hand with the fun. Our night was nearly over before it began when our names were accidentally left off the press list. After some negotiating and confirmations, we stepped on the packed dancefloor and were instantly overwhelmed by the sweltering heat. But whatever ventilation issues the venue had that night were overpowered by the impressive speaker setup that drove the crowd to dance through temperatures that reminded us of some of the hottest summer festivals we’ve attended.
We were greeted by Lee Reynolds’ set, complete with his shaggy silver mane and colorful attire. He was moving the crowd with some solid funky House beats, which explained the sauna-like atmosphere. At that point, there was still a bit of space to dance, and I spied many Burner friends breaking it down in their always outrageous attire. Considered to be Desert Hearts’ patriarch, the 47-year-old Lee Reynolds has the energy of a man half his age. He was dancing every bit as hard as us fans below. Seeing him rock it on stage really showed that age is just a number – what really matters is releasing the passion in your untamed heart.
Desert Hearts is about far more than just the music, and Rose Entertainment‘s expertise in immersive shows brought the event to life. Vendors and live artists took over the top floor, and there was even a “Consensual Cuddle Puddle” complete with a massage therapist for anyone needing to chill out with friends. It was a great opportunity to grab a drink and cool off while enjoying an unobstructed view. The stage design and lights were striking but lacked the outlandish design of previous Rose Entertainment productions, placing the focus squarely on the music, costumes, and community vibe.
With the show taking place over a span of six hours, we’d wondered how they were going to break up the sets. It was a pleasant surprise to hear Papa Lee play an extended set, followed by Marbs b2b Mikey Lion. Soon after, Marbs and Mikey were joined b2b by Christian Martin of Dirtybird Records. Unsurprisingly, Christian was dressed the simplest in a black T-shirt while Marbs stepped it up just a bit and Mikey Lion pulled out all the stops. Mikey’s signature top hat adorned with feathers and other delightful paraphernalia added unnecessary height to a man whose presence is already so big. His psychedelic shirt appeared to glow and move as the lights moved over it creating a spectacle all of its own.
The three masters threw down hours of bumpin’ House beats interspersed with Techno and even some old school Hip Hop. I mean, who doesn’t like “Pump Up the Jam” when the party’s already going and your rave booty’s on the dance floor?!? Everyone was singing along and as we looked around, it was surprising to find people still wearing fur hats and sparkly jackets when it was tropical summer hot in mid-April. Those crazy Burners! The guys blessed the sweaty masses with Desert Hearts and Dirtybird favorites that had us all grinning ear to ear. Sandra’s movement reactive light up shoes were quite the hit, and though it was crowded, respect was shown for those who wanted to shuffle as they were given plenty of dancing space.
The night ended with all four of the guys taking turns on the decks driving the crowd into a frenzy. Whereas the dance floor tends to begin to empty around 1:30 AM at many local shows, us Desert Hearts fans were still dancing and shouting for more as the lights went up. The 90’s slow jams that came on with the lights and the older gentleman with the best mullet I’ve seen in a very long time had us cracking up as we gathered our crew and made our way out the door. If you’re lucky enough to catch the Desert Hearts crew near you, take advantage, or make your way to their annual festival at the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, CA April 26th-29th. Their parties are do not miss events!
*Featured Image of Mikey Lion Via Desert Hearts Website*