Desert Daze brings 11-day local festival to the Coachella crowd
The party that is Coachella is not just confined to the Empire Polo Fields in Indio, Calif. Music fans who will be invading the desert communities in April know there are plenty of after-parties and mini-concerts to crash and/or attend in the area too. And now that the festival has virtually cloned itself for a second weekend (it'll be held April 13-15 and April 20-22), it presents indie festival planners such as Phil Pirrone with an interesting challenge: supplying all those extra road-weary travelers with something to do while they’re in town.
Pirrone and his crew, who are responsible for presenting a regular series of festivals called Moon Block Party in Pomona, recently announced the launch of Desert Daze, an 11-day festival centered at Dillon's Roadhouse in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., about a half-hour drive from Coachella. The plan for the festival, to be held April 12-22, is to present more than 100 bands and DJs from L.A. and beyond who will take over the modest desert venue from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
For Pirrone, who’s been organizing community festivals for years with varying success, providing a platform for local bands during such a crazy two-week period seemed ambitious but not impossible.
“We’ve always wanted to do an extended festival, and all these people being in the desert for an extended amount of time presented a perfect opportunity to make that happen,” he said.
The lineup, while it continues to grow, is already packed with local acts including the buzz-worthy psych rock of Long Beach's Crystal Antlers, Santa Ana's Free the Robots, L.A. favorites Dante Vs. Zombies and the D.C.-bred stoner rock outfit Dead Meadow. Desert Daze will feature an outdoor stage, an indoor stage and an intimate “bus stage” created from a gutted-out Greyhound bus-turned-music lounge.
When it comes to putting an event like this together, Pirrone says he and fellow organizers have fallen back on the same ethos that's contributed to the grass-roots success of his previous Moon Block Party festivals in downtown Pomona.
“Moon Block Party has basically survived by putting 50 bands on a bill who all promote it hard as if it were their own show,” Pirrone said. “And then you have 50 people working behind the scenes to put everything together to produce it and then a bunch of fans and friends really getting passionate about coming to it.”
Those in charge of organizing the event are either performing musicians or artists, and they are planning a number of workshops and live art installations in addition to a nonstop barrage of shows. Pirrone hopes to take the stage himself as part of his L.A.-based psych rock duo, Juju.
The festival is similar to the homegrown “D-I-T” (do-it-together) events put on by FMLY, and Pirrone says the goal of Desert Daze is to create a solid community in the middle of all that is Coachella. He doesn't want to compete, but he would like to add to all the sun-drenched madness of the bigger festival. “It’s a thing you can keep coming back to throughout the weekend,” Pironne said. “You can go do your other things, but we’re always here for you.”
Stay tuned for updates to the festival program here.
-- Nate Jackson
Photo: The first Moon Block Party event, held in downtown Pomona in June 2011. Credit: Vatche Karagozian