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The second of this summer’s two Splash House parties landed Aug. 10 at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

By now, Splash House is running like a fine vintage watch: Shuttles running from the three main pool-party venues—the Renaissance, the Riviera and the Saguaro—delivered Splashers to the pre-party at the Air Museum on Gene Autry Trail. I’m sure most of the young fans understood the deep connection Autry had to music, baseball and Palm Springs.

I am kidding: These EDM fans were here to party and listen to the best electronic music, in an effort to warm up for the pool parties that followed the next two days.

The Black Madonna headlined the pre-party. I had no idea who she was, which allowed me to listen with no biases or preconceived notions. It turns out she is a native of Kentucky who began her career as many do, by selling mix tapes in warehouses and—in her case—farm fields that became underground music venues. She magically melds different genres of music into tracks that fit well together, helping her stand out in the bro-dominated EDM scene. Her original mix of “He Is the Voice I Hear” was absolutely enchanting.

British DJ Hannah Wants brought her house beats to the Saguaro on a very hot Saturday afternoon. The Saguaro is the über-party place of Splash House; the proximity of the room’s balconies to the elevated DJ stage makes it a faultless spot if attendees do not want to leave their rooms.

Louis the Child was excited to be headlining the Renaissance on Saturday night. Robby Hauldren asked the crowd if they wanted a standard set, or a one-of-a-kind set. The crowd was mum on the subject, so the duo went with an incredible new set. “It’s Strange” was a pleasing tune. Aware of the long, hot day, Hauldren inquired as to the mood of the audience: “Are you still all right out there? Are you feeling the love? Are you feeling amazing?” This garnered a cheer from the sun-baked crowd.

Hauldren announced with excitement: “This is our first time headlining a festival.” He then announced the last song, a recorded track, “Better Not” (featuring Wafia), which played as they waved to fans.

One of the highlights of the Splash House after-hours party, once again held at the Air Museum, was Mija—a post-modern harlequin-like tech-house dream. Her “Notice Me”—with the words “I want you so badly in this weather, If only we could be together”—was joyful.

I was excited to see DJ Alex Harrington, whom I first met several years ago at Splash House when Gorgon City played in front of a few hundred fans at the now-defunct Hard Rock Hotel. Alex got the nod to open on the same stage where Gorgon City was the headliner last Sunday at the Renaissance. Harrington, a local and a former Independent contributor, has a new record coming out, Stargazer, and this was a great opportunity to show case his talent to a noon crowd who got to listen to his original material.

Splash House is like any music festival, in the sense that one can find gems while wandering around early in the day—like Silva, a DJ/producer playing a 1 p.m. set at the Riviera.

On a shuttle ride back the Saguaro, I met Kaley from Los Angeles, and Tina from Portland. Both ladies had floaties that were partially inflated. As Kaley was inflating her floatie, she said the air valve tasted like salad—and that she hates salad. She later explained that the night before, after the Louis the Child set, they’d acquired the floaties after they were abandoned by their previous owners; presumably, the person who previously inflated the floatie liked salads. Later that day, they waved happily when they spotted me at the Riviera. The best thing about Splash House is that everyone is in good spirits; it is easily the most laid-back music scene I cover all year.

Early Sunday evening, Grammy-nominated Camelphat packed the Renaissance during their nearly 90-minute set, keeping the bass strong, which re-energized the dancers.

Gorgon City returned to Splash House to close out the night. Fans adored new track “Love Me.” I am sure that while standing on the massive stage, they reflected upon the first time they played this event—in a room that was smaller than that stage.

As Splash House concluded for another year, I wondered: Is this a music festival, or just a well-planned pool party? Frankly, I don’t think it matters, because attendees are getting exactly what they paid for—a fun weekend under the sun with thousands of like-minded fun-seekers.

Published in Reviews

To understand Splash House, look to the great Scottish band Belle and Sebastian, which declares: “Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance.”

This formula for success brings to Palm Springs the younger set, which was virtually banned from Palm Springs in the ’80s and ’90s. However, gone are the rabble-rousers popping wheelies with bikini-clad girls holding on for dear life; instead, this is a smaller house-music festival with a more-intimate feel, thanks to approximately 4,000 in attendance.

This was the second Splash House celebration this summer, this time taking over three venues: Saguaro, the Hilton and Hard Rock. The Saguaro’s pool was packed to capacity, requiring security to use a hand-held counter to determine how many people could get in the pool. You could, at times, walk from one end of the pool to the other—if you dared to balance yourself on the armada of floaties.

Fans dealt with the scorching heat by shuttling back and forth in free buses stocked with ice-cold water. The shuttle bus itself was part of the show, with excited music fans dancing to music being pumped in from the speakers—a tradition borrowed from Coachella itself.

By the festival’s second day, everyone appeared to be acquainted. People offered me recommendations on which performers to see. My only quibble: There was no shuttle stop at the Hilton, meaning attendees had to make the short-but-in-blistering-heat walk to the Hard Rock. However, the lack of a shuttle stop allowed me to have a great conversation with Katya Bachrouche, a Lebanese-American international swimmer who shares my love for Lebanese pickled turnips. These random social interactions illustrate how Splash House is more than a music festival; it’s a shared experience between people who want to have fun.

Here are photos from the August Splash House.

Published in Reviews

Splash House is coming to Palm Springs for the second time this summer, on Aug. 8 and 9. Once again, the venues will include the Hilton and the Saguaro, but this time around, 2014 Splash House venue the Hard Rock Hotel is back, with the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club taking this one off.

Here are six can’t-miss acts at the August Splash House.

Matoma

Matoma (right) is a big name in the tropical-house genre. Hailing from Norway (where there isn’t anything tropical), this DJ and producer started out as a pianist when he was a child. He grew tired of the classical-piano world and started to spend time remixing on his computer. One of his works, a remix of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Old Thing Back,” became a huge hit in Europe. Matoma’s tropical house style will be perfect poolside in the summer heat.

Goldroom

Goldroom is a former member of the popsynth band NightWaves; he’s also the co-founder of the record label Binary Entertainment. As a producer, he’s worked with acts including Bag Raiders, Futurecop!, Miami Horror and many others. This house DJ has a few different styles under his belt, including nu-disco and deep house. He’s been featured on MTV and BBC Radio, and has received rave write-ups from publications such as Pitchfork.

Yolanda Be Cool

With a name referencing Pulp Fiction, you figure this group has to be cool, right? These two guys have shared the stage with Pitbull, Justin Martin, Flo Rida and Jesse Rose. One of their remixes, “We No Speak Americano,” an Italian folk song with a funky beat, was an international hit. These guys do great remixes, and it’s sure that their live set will impress.

No Regular Play

No Regular Play is made up of Greg Paulus and Nick DeBruyn; they have known each other since the age of 8 and bonded over their love of hip-hop music. Paulus is a jazz-trumpet player, and DeBruyn is a master mixer who knows how to complement Paulus’ trumpet-playing. Yes, it’s a half-jazz/half-electronic-music act—and they occasionally throw in some Afro-Cuban rhythms to create some truly unique music.

Autograf

Another tropical house outfit, Autograf has done attention-grabbing remixes of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Daft Punk and others. On top of making music, the group also makes sculptures, combining a love of music and the world of traditional art. “Future Soup” is a 500-pound piece of art that makes people think about the future, and unlimited potential. The members have talked about how they’d like to include sculptures in their live act. A Splash House must-see.

Eau Claire

Hailing from Washington, D.C., Eau Claire (below) is a producer and DJ who combines nu-disco and indie-dance into her repertoire. She currently has more than a million plays on her Soundcloud page, and she’s been the talk of the industry on various music blogs and in dance-music publications. She stays consistently busy and is always releasing remixes that impress.

Published in Previews