Desert Air Festival soars with hot underground talent – Billboard
As temperatures in Palm Springs plummeted in the mid-1940s last weekend, the dancing taking place in the desert enclave helped create both fun and warmth.
This chill streak in the typically mild town of SoCal wasn’t the only novelty of the weekend, with the 4,000 revelers in attendance Friday and Saturday nights (December 10-11) meeting not on a traditional dance floor, but on the tarmac of the Palm Springs Air Museum. Here, vintage WWII airbirds outfitted with ravey lights loomed above you, as techno, disco, house, and more exploded through the massive audio system.
The occasion was the inaugural edition of Desert Air, a new festival from the founders of Splash House, the summer pool party and house music from Palm Springs launched in 2013 during the height of the EDM boom as an alternative to the large room of the time. ring.
As house music has since become the dominant genre, Desert Air’s goals were twofold: with a lineup of underground stars like DJ Koze, Dixon, Peggy Gou, Moodymann, Channel Tres, Jayda G, TSHA, as well as a mix of burgeoning techno and house artists, the event was intended to once again break new ground in the type of electronic music available to Southern California audiences, with an evolution to more Eurocentric talent that doesn’t often strike Los Angeles or its Party center adjacent to Vegas, especially during peak summer season.
âFor a lot of these artists – Peggy Gou and DJ Koze and Dixon – they are fairly demanded types of artists in Europe and very difficult to attract to the US and California for a pool party music festival,â Splash House and Desert Air founder Tyler McLean says Billboard. âWe wanted to do something in the winter at the Air Museum gave us a great opportunity to dive a little deeper into this underground programming route.â
This show was also aimed at expanding the audience for Splash House, a goal it also achieved, with 90 percent of Desert Air attendees reporting they had never been to a Splash House poolside party. Desert Air’s daytime activities like a bike ride / architecture tour, yoga and wine tasting at Palm Springs charming Dead Or Alive Wine Bar were also designed to attract a more mature crowd interested in exploring the sophistication. laid back Palm Springs as much as the dark edges of a slamming techno track.
âThe programming is a little more sonically mature and appeals to a slightly older population,â says McLean, a Palm Springs native who has been throwing parties since grade school. Goldenvoice, a titan of the region through its renowned Coachella festival, is McLean’s partner on Splash House and Desert Air, with the Goldenvoice team helping to assemble the lineup for some of the most prestigious names on the global electronic circuit.
The other star of the show was the Air Museum. While Splash House has been hosting afterparties here for years, Desert Air was the first festival to take place entirely on location. âIt naturally turned out to be an amazing Splash House room, and something everyone has always talked about as one of their favorite rooms at this event,â said McLean. “But it was still an afterparty, and there’s not much you can do with it.”
Desert Air has fully embraced its site, transforming sprawling hangars populated with fighter jets into VIP bars and lounges. Many attendees seemed as interested in exploring exhibits like “On This Day of WWII” as they were in music, and some veterans of the Air Museum community were seen tapping their feet to mask the home fixtures. The museum exhibits and flies planes from WWII and the Korean and Vietnamese Wars, with Desert Air daytime activities also including pleasure cruises on these vintage machines.
McLean says the newness of the venue helped attract top performers, who performed as flights took off over the adjacent Palm Springs airport. Desert Air attendees arrived dressed for the weather and ready to party, with crowds filling the tarmac after the gates opened just before sunset. The festival ended each evening at the very late hour of 12:30 a.m., the last hour at which amplified music can be played outdoors according to a city ordinance.
The highlights of the weekend were plenty, with Los Angeles artist Channel Tres bringing a live twist to an otherwise all-electronic festival, esteemed Dixon delivering heavy Berlin vibes and Steve Martinez of the Martinez Brothers playing. all alone an often happy set house. (Ahead of the show, the veteran New York duo announced that only Chris Martinez would be at Desert Air, as Steve was in quarantine after being exposed to Covid-19.) The show’s underground push was highlighted over the two days. , when Shazam-ing any given set returned obscure results.
Saturday night was slightly colder than Friday, attendees arrived in faux furs, flight suits and vintage ski clothing, then tuned in to music from rising star TSHA and a crisp ensemble of Detroit’s ever-flawless icon Moodymann, who has spent a lot of time at the microphone giving an inspiring talk about the importance of believing in yourself. It was followed by favorite DJ Koze, who opened with his favorite “Pick Up” in 2018. Berlin star Peggy Gou, who had traveled 24 hours to Palm Springs, took to the stage in a Great Lebowski hoodie to play a deeply cool, but also energetic and often playful ensemble with classics like “Fly Life Extra” by Basement Jaxx. As the night wore on, it was cold enough to see your breath, but if anyone on stage was freezing, no one was hinting at it.
âWe couldn’t do any heating on stage because the plane behind was full of oil,â says McLean, âbut all the performers were tough enough to really enjoy the experience anyway.â