Ever have one of those days that feels more like a dream than reality? Remembering them is like reliving a fever dream. That’s what’s Splash House was like earlier this year, but I suppose a weekend spent day drinking with beautiful people by a pool will do that to you.
Splash House has transported the “deep” music scene out of the booming halls of Hollywood clubs and taken it poolside. Round two is going down in August, exciting news if you’re into the electronic music scene. Chromeo, Cut Copy, Jagwar Ma, Moonboots, Viceroy… It’s a really solid weekend of music, and all this excitement for next month’s event got me reminiscing about when I went to Splash House in June.
Color. That’s probably what I remember most about Splash House. Maybe that’s because the event took place in Palm Springs. Maybe it’s because the Saguaro Hotel was a technicolor dreamland. It could also be due to the neon bar signs and rainbow flags of the town itself.
The festival is spread out across three different pool parties at hotels in Palm Springs. Each has its own theme and attitude. The Hacienda was an outpost for beats and funk. The Hard Rock complex was probably the closest thing to a “mainstage.” The Saguaro (my favorite) was a big, fat, awesome pool party. Each party was like a little island of sun-drenched fun.
My first stop was Sweater Beats followed by XXYYXX at the Hacienda. By now it was nearly sundown. A handful of people danced and mingled on the canopied lawn that was the Hacienda’s stage. The set was bassy, which was a delicious contrast to the chilled-out atmosphere of the rest of the club. And my goodness, the bodies.
The atmosphere was generally chill. Mini-EDC is clearly not what Splash House was aiming for. If anything, it’s like a specially curated mini-Coachella. Most bodies had found their ways into pool chairs or the pool itself, but a few were sprawled out on the grass amid a handful of grooving, mostly clothed dancers.
XXYYXX followed with his unique brand of electronica. I enjoyed his set, but the Hacienda decided to kick everyone out 15 minutes early. He was still spinning as we were being hustled out of the hotel. I was pretty miffed about that, honestly. I mean, it’s fine if you want people to go, but let them at least finish the set. My guess is they’ll have that sorted the next go around.
Post XXYYXX, I headed over to the Hard Rock Hotel’s pool area. If the Hacienda was the chill-out stage, the Hard Rock was the go-hard stage.
Moby was, predictably, rad. He spun a very energetic set of techno and hard house. It was similar to his set at Sound Nightclub a few months ago. Not complaining. There was some Fat Boy Slim in the mix and some Firebeatz as well. The crowd here was great. Maybe it was the relatively inexpensive beer, or a day’s worth of good music, or the heat, but people were in a generally good mood. Security was present, but their asses were totally bereft of sticks. Moby basically delivered as usual. You don’t get the reputation he has without being continuously epic.
The party continued into the evening with Poolside. I didn’t stay for this out of confidence that they would be perfect for the occasion. Their music is like the soundtrack for a beachside stoner film that was never made. Like if John Hughes got really faded and decided to write about a lost summer in Santa Barbara.
Instead, I went to see AC Slater because I missed him earlier at Night Bass, so this was my second chance. The girls exchanged bikini tops for dresses. Dudes exchanged board shorts for board shorts and shirts. Some wore jeans. Still, very casual.
The next day I began the music with Sango of Soulection at the Hacienda. Again, it was a lightly attended set without a lot of turn up energy, which was perfect. The handful of people really excited to be there made it fun. Kaytranada followed, which was excellent. The beats were awesome. So good.
The third hotel was the Saguaro, a technicolor, rainbow-dipped hotel with a very, very active pool. Streamers of pink and yellow danced above the packed pool while people grooved on their own to the Remix Artist Collective. Direct sunlight and general desert hotness made the laptops overheat a bit, but the music was mostly trouble free. It was a DJ set, so you didn’t get the full band effect like when you see RAC play live.
At the Hard Rock Hotel, Toro y Moi spun a disco/house set as his alter ego Les Sins. You don’t need to even ask if it was funky (it was). Also, it was the middle of the day, which meant for a mostly empty dance area as it was extremely hot.
The ever-dapper Neon Indian spun next, with Purity Ring following up. She had one of the most fun sets of the afternoon, honestly. No one else was spinning hip hop. It took a second for the energy in the crowd to change, but it did.
Here’s the thing about Splash House. Palm Springs is far enough away to be “out of LA” and easy enough to get to for music fests like this to happen without them being particularly expensive. Hell, I got a Motel 6 room that night for 60 bucks. (Two beds!)
If you’re over the EDC-style ragers of Vegas-style daytime pool parties, you’d probably do well to check out Splash House. Clearly, the music is excellent, but the energy was definitely more on the vacation side of things. I know I enjoyed the relative lack of clusterfuckery and mostly open dance areas. There are plenty of clubs that offer the sweaty sardine can experience (literally all of Hollywood), which is fine, but sometimes you just gotta move. Also, the drinks were not expensive. Sunday morning mimosas (champagne with a spit of orange juice) were a buck each. Yeah, Sunday afternoon was blur.
It was an awesome weekend getaway, and the talent at next weekend’s event is just as awesome. Chromeo, A-Trak, Henry Krinkle, Anna Lunoe, Flume (!!), and more are coming. Passes and hotel packages are still available.
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