Halloween weekend is arguably the most event-packed weekend of the year, especially in San Francisco. While there were plenty of great shows to pick from, few shone in comparison to the Desert Hearts show at Public Works last Friday night. There was no lack of energy at any point in the night, with the line outside proving this to be true from the beginning. Sticking to the traditional burner-esque fashion, everyone was dressed in their own unique way. Desert Hearts also promoted a costume contest, which brought some of the usual characters out for the night, with some of the best costumes being Pennywise and Hulk Hogan (see below).

From the moment you entered the venue, you knew it was going to be a night for the ages. For those that don’t know, Public Works is a multi-roomed venue with a massive Funktion-One sound system – essentially, it is the perfect place to throw an intimate-but-bumpin’ party. The line-up for the night featured Desert Hearts founders Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Porkchop, and Marbs – along with other frequent collaborators. Porkchop set the tone early on with some punchy tech-house and it was not long before everyone was dancing.

As the drinks started flowing and the night progressed, Lee Reynolds took the stage. His presence was immediately felt, and for good reason. His set featured a wide array of tech-house bangers with plenty of acidy bass lines – the perfect combo for the crowd. Lee chose the perfect costume for his duties of leading the dance – he was dressed as Papa Smurf taking all of us on a journey through the well-selected tracks he played. Reynold’s selection was a testament to his experience as a DJ, as some of the best songs he played were not Desert Heart’s releases, but nonetheless he still kept the energy of the dance floor consistent with what the group is known for.  The best moment of his set was when he dropped an absolute bomb entitled “Blow Up the Speakers” by Eli Brown. With the party in full swing, it was time for Mikey Lion to take the reigns for the peak of the night.

Mikey Lion is the de-facto leader of Desert Hearts as he epitomizes what it looks like – and sounds like – to be a member of the community that he and the other three co-founders created. Trading his signature top hat for a cowboy hat for Halloween, the music he played certainly remained consistent with what he is known for. While the popular Desert Hearts releases got their usual airtime, he played a few unreleased tracks that certainly took the energy up another level. Throughout the night, there were all types of characters on stage dancing with the DJs – something that Desert Hearts encourages their fans to do. It became nearly impossible to be on stage for Mikey’s set, and it seemed that nearly every nook and cranny of the main room was filled to the brim with people dancing. Every Desert Hearts set is one that you leave thinking to yourself, “Wow, this was absolutely amazing.  The music, the people, the energy – it just doesn’t get better than that.” Of course, that’s always the case until the next time you see them, when they play another unbelievable set. Whether you catch the collective perform at a music festival or their own headlining show, the support they consistently receive is overwhelmingly genuine and makes for a great time.

The community they have garnered over the years is organic and follows the lead of the founders.  If the most popular DJs are encouraging an ethos centered on unity and do not discern themselves as unique or above the crowd – this becomes immediately evident to everyone around them.  This has allowed them to develop a collective of people who genuinely accept one another and show up to any festival or gig because they love the music. As Desert Hearts continues to rapidly expand across the U.S. it is just a matter of time before they make this a world-wide phenomenon in places that are much more focused on the sound they bring – I, for one, look forward to seeing what’s in store for this talented group of people. The next regional stop on their tour is going to be in Los Angeles on Sunday, November 12 for their first City Hearts Festival, tickets are still available here.  Until next time:

“House, Techno, & Love…We are all Desert Hearts.”


Written by Connor Tapley

Photos by Kyle Mikami and Connor Tapley

Video by Kyle Mikami



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