The THUMP Guide to Coachella's Best Parties

How to get your festival fix without breaking the bank.

|
Apr 11 2017, 2:15pm

Photo of Day Club Palm Springs via Day Club Palm Springs website.

With just three days to go until kick-off, Coachella seems so close, yet so far. The popular Southern California festival returns to its longtime stomping grounds at the Empire Polo Fields in Indio for two back-to-back weekends (April 14–16 and 21–23), each offering three days of music, people-watching, flower crowns, and Spicy Pie pizza.

Looking past the lineup's massive headliners—Kendrick Lamar, Radiohead, and Lady Gaga—the electronic-music roster is possibly the biggest it's been in recent years, whether you're heading out to rage your eyes out with Martin Garrix, Marshmello, and DJ Snake; or enter the void with Ben UFO, Moderat, and Nicolas Jaar. Such a heavy, star-studded lineup, of course, is reflected in the festival's GA price tag: $399, plus an extra $75 or $113 for a shuttle and camping pass, respectively, on top of food, drinks, Uber… you get the idea.

For those who still want to enjoy the Coachella atmosphere without breaking the bank—or festival-goers who want to keep the music going all night—here are nine alternative party options outside of the official event. 

1. Young Turks in Palm Springs

When: Thursday, April 13
Where: Palm Springs Air Museum

A showcase from XL Recordings imprint Young Turks is about as close as you can get to enjoying the dance music-dedicated Yuma tent at Coachella. Festival acts such as Ben UFO, Four Tet, Francis & the Lights, Sampha, and PNL are billed for the evening showcase, along with Jamie xx and Kamaiyah. Such an intriguing lineup is only enhanced by its unconventional location, the Palm Springs Air Museum, where you'll see the night's performers flanked by impressive vintage war planes in a 20,000 square-foot airplane hangar. Better yet, it's on a Thursday, which means it's the perfect pre-party for festivalgoers.

2. Little Dragon & Sofi Tukker

When: Thursday, April 13
Where: Pappy & Harriet's

Just an hour outside of Coachella is the unincorporated community of Pioneertown. Modeled after an 1870s-era frontier town, the area was a popular spot for filming western movies and is currently home to Pappy & Harriet's, an intimate bar and concert venue. Along with Grammy-nominated breakout duo Sofi Tukker, Swedish electronic band Little Dragon is due to perform in its outdoor area, giving the crowd a preview of their new album, Season High (out the next day), against a breathtaking backdrop of desert mountains.

3. Desert Gold featuring NTS Radio

When: April 14–16
Where: Ace Hotel & Swim Club

If you're staying at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs for Coachella, you're in luck, because you're basically getting two events for the price of one. Event series Desert Gold is back for another round of parties spanning both festival weekends for hotel guests and ticket-holders. However, it's only during the first weekend that you'll be able to catch some sun and mix sessions with new SoCal transplant NTS Radio, the London-based station which expanded to Los Angeles last year. There's no lineup or schedule yet, but who can pass up a live broadcast while poolside on a sunny Saturday afternoon?

4. Rhonda: Queen of the Desert

When: Friday, April 14
Where: Palm Springs Air Museum

Wherever Rhonda goes, it's bound to be a wild time. LA party staple A Club Called Rhonda are—we imagine—packing their highest heels, throwing the top down on their car, and hightailing it to the desert. Friday night, they're staging a house and techno takeover at the Palms Springs Air Museum with Dixon and Solomun. The Innervisions and Diynamic bosses, respectively, will be going back-to-back after Sublevel boss Doc Martin warms the floor. Bring your sexiest goggles and warmest faux shearling jackets, and prepare for takeoff.

5. Day Club Palm Springs 

When: April 14–16 and 21–23
Where: Hilton Palm Springs

If you're heading to Indio with friends who all have varying taste levels in dance music (we all have that one friend we'd never trust with the aux cord), Day Club Palm Springs offers a little something for everybody, from the main-stage rail rider to the house and techno aficionado. Each of Day Club's six day-parties will feature a different headliner and curator, with the first weekend hosting Nicky Romero; Skrillex and the OWSLA crew; and LA's Sound Nightclub, who pull in a Yuma-worthy lineup including The Martinez Brothers, Sasha b2b Hot Since 82, Maya Jane Coles, and Lauren Lane. Weekend two pumps up the volume with Mad Decent, Madeon, and Dillon Francis.

6. The Prescription Pool Party

When: Saturday, April 15
Where: The Saguaro Palm Springs

Nothing to do on a Saturday afternoon? Los Angeles-based artist Dr. Fresch is here to cure your boredom blues. The purveyor of what he describes as "future ghetto" is taking his Prescription mix series to the vibrant-toned Saguaro hotel for the first-ever Prescription party. Joining in on the poolside festivities are Hotel Garuda, Point Point, and a surprise special guest.

7. Midnight Lovers

When: Saturday, April 15
Where: TBA

If after a day of poolside drinking or Polo-field frolicking you're too riled up to call it a night, ring in the witching hour with Midnight Lovers. The LA-based promoter is bringing out Beats in Space boss Tim Sweeney for some late-night/early-morning selections, along with Eddie C, Shiny Objects, and Masha. Hope you don't have any early brunch plans on Sunday, because this one's going all the way until sunrise.

8. Nicolas Jaar with Floating Points (live) and Pond

When: Monday, April 17
Where: Pappy & Harriet's (outside)

It can be a struggle going back to real life after a crazy Coachella weekend, but a night in Pioneertown can help stretch the vacation for one more night. Nicolas Jaar, Floating Points (live), and Australian band Pond will be performing at Pappy & Harriet's between the two festivals, making for an event bubbling with psychedelic sounds.

9. Bears in Space Palm Springs

When: April 22–23
Where: Ace Hotel & Swim Club

LA-based collective Bears in Space heads to Palm Springs for weekend two of Desert Gold. On Saturday night (April 22), they welcome Eric Duncan (aka Dr. Dunks, and also one-half of Rub-N-Tug) and DJ/dublab host Heidi Lawden on headlining duties, along with residents Chris Bowen and Victor Rodriguez. If you find yourself having partied too hard that night, stumble on poolside with your Bloody Mary as the Bears in Space team serve sun-baked tunes to make you forget your mild hangover.

Stories