Moon Block Party, a collective from Pomona, Calif., has for a second year in a row organized an area music festival that overlaps with the Coachella festival.
Their intention, organizers say, is not for Desert Daze—taking place on Saturday, April 20—to be an alternative to the monumental Coachella fest, but to add to the number of music-related activities that are available to music aficionados storming the area in April.
Last year, Moon Block Party was invited to put on Coachella-related parties. This, they did, but not in a small way: They coordinated musicians and bands to play a Desert Daze Festival for 11 days in a row, largely at Dillon’s Roadhouse in Desert Hot Springs. This year, they downsized to a one-day, festival, at the Sunset Ranch Oasis in Mecca.
Phil Pirrone, who spearheads the festival and the collective, explains they found that location.
“We scoured the desert to find this year’s location,” he recalls. “One night, my wife and I were literally scrolling Google Earth, trying to find what looked like ranches or parks or something. … We eventually found a ranch north of Bermuda Dunes. … That didn’t work out, although they were very nice people—so nice, they referred us to Sunset Ranch.”
So nice, indeed! The location boasts a lush desert oasis complete with palm trees and lake in Mecca. Bring your tents; there is camping on the lake (though no swimming is allowed).
On offer is music from bands from Mali, Los Angeles, Seattle and Brooklyn, as well as Coachella Valley band Slipping Into Darkness (which was also a last-minute addition to the Coachella fest). Expect an eclectic assortment of music from post-punk and drone to dark folk, anti-apocalypse rock, and so on.
One highlight is the mighty band Tinariwen, a group of Tuareg musicians hailing all the way from the Saharan region in Mali. They are very much established on the world-music scene, and are coming all the way to Mecca to perform their lush poetry and guitar-based, rhythm-heavy music.
“Most of the bands on the festival are friends and bands we really believe in,” Pirrone says. “The others, like Tinariwen, have been our dream list for a very long time. We just reached out to their agent, and the timing was right, and it worked out.”
Pirrone and the crew of the Moon Block Party want to make this regular, annual event. It looks like the Eastern Coachella Valley is on its way to becoming a Mecca for alternative and mainstream music alike.
The Desert Daze Festival takes place starting at 3 p.m., Saturday, April 20, at Sunset Ranch Oasis, 69520 S. Lincoln St. Tickets start at $35. For tickets or more information, visit www.desertdaze.org.