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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The three-day party that it is Splash House returned for the second and final time this summer, running Aug. 11-13.

The Friday night pre-party, at the Palm Springs Air Museum, featured the best performances of the entire weekend, in my book—but I must admit I’m biased toward performers who use instruments.

Klatch, hailing from the West Coast dance scene, kicked things off on Friday with a traditional DJ set, igniting the early evening crowd. Edlerbrook took things in a different direction with smoldering vocals merging with ambient digitized electronic sampling. The track “Difficult to Love” is an agreeable tune about how we see early experiences optimistically, compared to the actual eventual reality of the experience: “I’m difficult to love at the best of times; oh, at the best of times, I’m high again (high, high, high); and maybe that was mistake (my mistake, my mistake, uhm); you said I waste time, and I never get why you’re in love with me.”

Elderbrook wowed fans with the song “How Many Times,” ending with the tune and saying, “Peace,” before walking off the stage. After his performance, a happy devotee grabbed me by the shoulder and proclaimed, “That’s Elderbrook. He is going to be big; write it down.”

I just want to say I completely fell in love with Sofi Tukker, a New York-based duo featuring Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern. The cheerful Halpern mentioned, “The last time we were out here was for Coachella.” Sofi Tukker’s music was very danceable, with electronic beats and strong guitar riffs from Hawley-Weld, and lots running around the stage. The song “Greed” took on POTUS directly with full electronic goodness: “Your ego, your crashing, your greed, keeping you up all night.”

Bob Moses ended the night with a fantastic song, “Like It or Not,” with some words of wisdom: “It’s gotta mean something; it’s gotta mean something to you; it’s gotta keep pushing; you gotta keep pushing through.”

The Saguaro, the Riviera, and the Renaissance accommodated crowds once again on Saturday and Sunday. I started Saturday off at the Saguaro, the most intimate of the three venues, where the balconies were covered up more than the attendees. As I walked in, a guy stopped me, seeing my camera gear, and had his friends clear a path in front of the DJ so he could do a summersault … just because. The atmosphere at the Saguaro is all about being there and having fun; most of the crowd was away from the DJ booth, instead enjoying the pool and/or looking for a future mate.

Over at the Riviera on Saturday, the pool was packed and overflowing; there always seem to be pools of water on the sides, caused by the crowded conditions. Manila Killa spun pure joy, enthralling listeners with indie-pop electronica.

On Saturday, Gigamesh, aka Matthew Thomas Masurka, performed on the Renaissance stage. His set was slated to be an hour long, but his time onstage was cut short due to his equipment heating up; the west-facing stage unfortunately lacked protection from the heat.

Splash House ran like a Swiss watch when it came to set times, but security was very strict, even checking wallets for contraband. It was hot as heck, which may have explained the more-subdued crowd on the between-venue shuttles, as compared to the June Splash House: I did not witness any dancing or singing this time around.

Hoping for another great time at the Air Museum, I headed back on Saturday night for former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy’s DJ set, which was competent but lacked the punch of the performances the night before. Only the diehards could dance in the sweltering heat that night, and the VIP lounge was packed with seated guests observing instead of engaging in the music.

On Sunday at the Renaissance, Sango sampled some amazing tracks, including Young Thug’s rap verse which doubles as sage advice from a gunslinger: “Don’t try to take it; I got guns; I’m talkin’ guns, not pellets.” Sango kept the thumping loud, with plenty of hooks that excited the evening admirers.

Closing out Splash House at the Renaissance was Kaytranada. Unfortunately, the scorching set by Sango may have heated things up too much, because technical difficulties hampered the beginning of his show. He took the problems with a smile: “My shit is not set up yet. I am going to play whatever! ... This is a god damn disaster,” he said as a large skipping sound flowed through the massive speakers. Later, the sampling of Suede’s “NxWorries” was the perfect way for him to express frustration for this minor glitch in his headlining gig: “If I call you a bitch, it’s ’cause you’re my bitch, and as long as no one else call you a bitch, then there won’t be no problems. Now, If I call you a trick, it’s ’cause you paid the rent.” We can only speculate whether this track was dropped to express frustration with the production staff. At the end, Kaytranada had everyone dancing, with smiles on the faces of the die-hard partygoers.

Splash House once again was a joyful event. Everyone chills out and gets along, no matter their background, ethnicity or sexual orientation. If we could infuse the inclusiveness of this event into the rest of the country, we would all be better for it.

Published in Reviews

Nobody can make rock tracks sound as good in dance remixes as Matthew Masurka—you know him as Gigamesh.

The DJ and producer, known for his remixes of Fleetwood Mac, Yo La Tengo and Radiohead, is returning to the second Splash House of the summer, taking place Aug. 11-13.

His best-known works are probably his remix of Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” and his production of Mike Posner’s “Cooler Than Me.” As a DJ, he’s played to crowds all around the world.

“I’ve always been into electronic music,” Gigamesh said during a recent phone interview. “It’s the stuff I listen to the most. Middle school and high school for me was Daft Punk and DJ Shadow, and I listened to a lot of Radiohead, who I think are electronic musicians, in a sense. I was always attracted to it, and I’ve always been an independent-minded person when it comes to working on music, so it’s always been a natural fit for me.”

Gigamesh takes a lighter hand with some of his remixes. For instance, if you’re not paying attention, you may not realize you’re not listening to the original version of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough”—even though there are big differences, including the drums being set to a house beat. Gigamesh explained how he came to remix older rock and R&B tracks.

“For all that stuff, I’m driven to do it, because they are songs I want to play in my sets,” he said. “A lot of those remixes are three to four years old, before I was really touring. I was in Minneapolis, where I grew up, and wanted to play stuff that appealed to everyone in the room. It would usually be small gigs and a wide variety of ages. I wanted to play something I considered classic, timeless and great, music that didn’t necessarily fit in a set of house and whatever else I was playing—things that didn’t have drums, that were heavy enough and things that wouldn’t be easy to mix in and out of. I was basically just making what some people would consider edits, and I would go a step further and add my own synths and things like that.”

Of course, Gigamesh also remixes works by modern pop artists.

“I recently did a remix for Miley Cyrus,” he said. “This dude asked me if I’d ever do one for her. A few years ago, I would have said no, because she’s kind of a divisive figure, and she’s so blatantly a pop star. But as I listened to the vocal track, I started to get into it. She’s a good vocalist, and part of the fun of remixing is taking something I might not necessarily be into right away, and turning it into something that I do enjoy. I like the vocal on its own, and it was just a matter of re-harmonizing it, and playing around with the tempo and different beats to make it into something I liked. I ended up going back and forth with her management for a while to land on something we were all happy with. It wasn’t the most challenging, but I went through quite a few different versions before I had the final version.”

Gigamesh said that he never knows for sure what a crowd will like before he starts his set.

“It’s really tough to gauge ahead of time, especially with a big festival and a huge crowd—especially if it’s somewhere like South America or Europe, and they want to hear disco or stuff that isn’t so commercialized,” he said. “But then I might play somewhere the next night, and (more commercial music) is exactly what the crowd wants to hear. That’s happened before, and toward the middle of my set, I’ll notice they aren’t feeling it, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. I’ve also been forced sometimes to play to the people in the room or at the festival who are enjoying it the most, versus the people in the front, who just came to hear my remixes and originals. Those are the people I want to make happy the most.”

There are always new remixes coming from Gigamesh, of course.

“I have two completed singles, and I’m working on a release plan for them right now, and hopefully they’ll be out in the next few months,” he said. “I have a few remixes that I just released: one (“Malibu”) for Miley Cyrus, and one (“Fake Magic”) for Peking Duk, with AlunaGeorge as the featured vocalist.”

Gigamesh has played Splash House before, and he said he likes the concept of the festival.

“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s a cool tradition, and a lot of people go every year, and it’s an interesting location, because it’s always unbearably hot, but you’re right next to a pool, and it forces people to enjoy the pool versus standing around trying to look cool.”

Splash House’s August edition takes place Friday, Aug. 11, through Sunday, Aug. 13. General admission passes start at $135. For more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.

Published in Previews

When you’re at Splash House, you have a choice: Should you focus your attention on the world-class DJs and EDM artists, or should you watch what’s going on in the pools?

The answer, if possible, is to do both. All three participating venues this past weekend—the Hilton Palm Springs, the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, and the Saguaro—featured both crowds and music that were quite entertaining.

As for the crowds: Splash House attendees go all out when it comes to wild choices regarding pool floaties. I saw them in the shape of everything from slices of pizza, to an ice cream sandwich, to a pig—an even an alpaca. The body paint, swimsuits and T-shirts worn by attendees are also often quite creative, and the dancing ranges from silly to downright mesmerizing.

When the DJs demanded attention, the crowd was there to give it to them—if attendees were into it, of course. There were moments at all three venues when the crowd was not feeling what was being played, meaning the DJs were ignored—or attendees hopped on a shuttle to go to another venue.

On Saturday at noon at the Hacienda, Aaron C, was the first of the local DJs to kick things off. Meanwhile, Lee K’s 1 p.m. set at the Saguaro was … repetitive. She essentially looped the same beat for an hour, and unsurprisingly, many attendees didn’t appear to be interested.

Following Lee K. was former Hacienda resident DJ Colour Vision. It wasn’t long before people were coming out of the Saguaro pool and making their way to the dancing area. His tropical house tracks got people moving—and kept them dancing until the end.

At the Hilton in the late afternoon, Anna Lunoe turned in a lively set for a large crowd that had gathered for her performance. She didn’t stick to a specific sound, instead playing a variety with heavy bass sounds and interesting rhythms. Close to the end of her set, she declared into a microphone: “I ALWAYS DELIVER!” This earned her a loud ovation.

18-year-old Justin Jay closed out the day at the Hacienda, from 5 to 6 p.m. He is reportedly a piano prodigy who found a love for DJing, and his set consisted of retro feel-good music that went all the way back to the soul era. He wasn’t afraid to include some amusing tracks such as the 69 Boyz’ “Tootsee Roll,” which was a big deal if you grew up in the ‘90s. Another amusing pick: Quad City DJs’ “Space Jam,” from a 1996 movie with the same title featuring Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes.

During Viceroy’s 6 p.m. set at the Saguaro, it highly evident that the Saguaro was definitely the place to be: The entire pool was full of people to see this big name in the DJ world.

Over at the Hilton, house music DJ and Grammy Award-winning producer Gigamesh was the second-to-last performer for the night. His set consisted of many of his own remixed tracks, such as Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls,” and Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough.” Gigamesh put on a delightful set, and people were grooving all over the place. At the end of his set, he thanked the crowd and closed with his remix of Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place” as the legendary RAC began transitioning over to his set.

Speaking of RAC (Remix Artist Collective): It was just André Allen Anjos. The collective, which used to include four additional members, has been known for creating remixes that go beyond the typical remix norm. Their takes on various songs made the collective quite popular. Anjos’ set was a lot of fun and was a great way to close out the first day of Splash House.

On Sunday at noon at the Hacienda, Independent resident DJ Alex Harrington started things off, and was followed by Luca Lush, who appeared to have technical problems: The Pioneer CDJs didn’t seem to be working correctly and threw off the beat of the tracks he was playing; the sound began to skip and repeat itself.

Throughout the day at the Hilton, it was quieter than it had been on Saturday. During Vanilla Ace’s late-afternoon set, not many people were in the pool or dancing in front of the stage. Turns out many of the attendees were over at Saguaro, taking in sets by Hippie Sabotage and an encore performance by Justin Jay—or they were at Hacienda getting ready for a closing set by Bakermat.

During Bakermat’s set, his sexy version of house music had a good-sized crowd dancing; he even brought out a saxophonist who played with one of his tracks.

Over at the Saguaro, things were quite chaotic as Thomas Jack transitioned over from a set by SNBRN. While I thought the Saguaro’s pull area was full on Saturday, it was even more crowded on Sunday, with wet bodies fresh out of the pool standing shoulder to shoulder—and so many people in the pool that you could barely see the color of the water, which was just plain disgusting at that point.

During some of the late afternoon/evening acts at the Hilton, trap music and DJs that played with heavier bass and drum-style sounds ruled the day. Wave Racer and Cashmere Cat were both into the heavy bass sound, and when Cashmere Cat closed out the Hilton, the first track he played sounded like an engine going faster and then slowing down.

The atmosphere at Splash House is quite fun; it feels like you’re at one of those wild house parties from a comedy film. Splash House offers a more relaxed and “chill” atmosphere as an electronic music festival—and the charm of Palm Springs makes it work.

Published in Reviews