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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Local band Desert Child releases debut album Tough Luck

Desert Child performing at Marquee Theatre on Feb. 15. The band released their first studio album, Tough Luck, on March 15, which has been surging in popularity. (Photo courtesy of Desert Child.)

Desert Child, a band of undergraduates from the University of Arizona, was met with sweeping popularity after releasing its first studio album on March 15. Desert Child fans have Tough Luck on repeat, and the band has already surpassed 2,000 listeners on Spotify in less than a month. 

This isn’t the first time local fans have heard its content, though, as Desert Child has performed its new tracks at a multitude of venues since recording the album. The most notable place to hear the project was Dusk Music Festival, and the band’s collection of fresh jams packed the venue out. The band has come a long way since its start, and the story of how it landed such a major venue is attributed to the quality of its newest work and where the band performed it. 

Desert Child played at Hotel Congress just once before it was able to land a spot in the venue’s Dusk Tucson Battle of the Bands 2023. While its previous gigs yielded the reward of dedicated local fans, the Battle of the Bands offered a more tangible prize: the opportunity to perform at Dusk and win a cash prize.

Desert Child receiving their cash prize for winning Hotel Congress’s Dusk Tucson Battle of the Bands on Oct. 21, 2023. The band received $750 and went on to play at Dusk Music Festival. (Photo courtesy of Desert Child.)

The four of them were up against Ariel Miranda, Daytrails, Desert Music Project, Hallways and Street Creep, and after an explosively engaging performance, they were declared the winner. They walked off of the stage with their first major festival booked and a huge check that appeared to have been pulled straight out of a cartoon.

At the festival just weeks later, Desert Child amassed the biggest crowd it has performed for yet, and it packed the venue out with the tracklist of Tough Luck

In November of 2022, Desert Child had its first show at the youth arts organization Groundworks, and its kept busy since then. From performing at a variety of venues, accumulating a tasteful selection of merchandise and releasing the debut album, the group has quickly gained local popularity. Being fellow Wildcats, the band has even been able to perform on campus multiple times, with the most notable gig being the Bear Down Music Festival in May of 2023

The group of STEM majors met on campus, and were able to bond over a love for creative expression. This passion was actualized by the members existing talents and the way they complement each other. Each band member plays a unique role, with Daniel Conley on the guitar and vocals, John Zuckerman on the bass guitar,  Joseph Fraire with his ability to keep a beat more accurate than a metronome and Eli Shlimovitz on the keyboard and vocals. This grouping of solidified talents crafted the local band people  know today. 

Drawing from a love of the Sonoran Desert, alternative/indie rock and its members bond itself, the band actualized the concept of Desert Child by recording Tough Luck and continuing to perform it at a variety of venues. The arts often conflict with the members educational, occupational and extracurricular obligations, but the group always finds a way to make it work. This level of authenticity brings Desert Child’s collaborative efforts to new heights and inspires the emotion it imbues into every song.

“If you love it, you’ll find a way, and if you’re doing it with your friends, there’s even more of a reason to find a way,” Shlimovitz, the band’s pianist and vocalist, said. 

The band’s passion is reflected in its work and the crowd it draws. At Dusk Music Festival, a number of fans had something to say about the mutual enjoyability of its performance. 

“When they enjoy it, you enjoy it 10 times more,” Hannah Hickson, an attendee who came all the way from Sydney, Australia, said. “They were jumping all around the stage. Daniel [Conley] threw his glasses into the crowd. They’re just having the best time, and the more they got into it, the more people showed up.”

Halley Deshler, a current Northern Arizona University student, Dusk attendee and self-proclaimed “number one fan,” described how, “As soon as ‘Bottled Up’ started playing, I turned around, and the whole street was totally filled. It was crazy how fast they had brought people in.” 

The song “Bottled Up” is a track from Tough Luck, and it was fitting to fill the massive venue the band was equipped with. Although it was the biggest venue the band had ever played, the band members recalled being strangely relaxed on stage. With an intense focus on the craft itself, Desert Child has been able to embrace and conquer uncomfortable situations in order to put on its spotless performances. 

“And you don’t have to be comfortable either. It’s never been very comfortable,” Conley, the band’s guitarist and vocalist, said. 

The band had dealt with nerves before shows in the past, but the stresses faded away as the band executed the work it knew so well. Each show granted a more engaging and comfortable stage presence and its journey to being frequently booked for shows is mirrored by the members increasing level of skill and talent. 

Desert Child continues to perform Tough Luck at various venues in Arizona. Announcements of upcoming shows can be found on Desert Child’s Instagram @desertchildtheband.

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