Après-Coachella: The Festas Beyond the Festival

Michael Reilly/XS Nightclub
April 14: Tom Cruise's son, Connor Cruise, hits the DJ booth at XS & SBE Coachella pop up with Nervo.

Daft Punk makes the extra-party scene and nobody notices.

As with all great leisure activities, music festivals in America have become more about what surrounds them than the actual shows. Coachella turned this corner cautiously a few years ago, and now there is no shame in saying “I’m just here for the parties.” It’s the “après-Coachella,” and it makes lounging poolside at brand-sponsored events next to other heavily wrist banded revelers as cool as baking in the desert sun of the Empire Polo Field for three days.

As a festival, Coachella has been relatively ahead of the curve in terms of EDM and other electronic acts. Chemical Brothers and Kraftwerk played early years of the festival, not to mention Daft Punk’s game-changing Sahara Tent performance in 2006. So it’s a natural fit for DJ culture to reign over the poolside events during the festival’s weekends.

Despite never-ending (and baseless) chatter that Daft Punk would be performing at some point during the weekend (with Phoenix! Remotely from a bird sanctuary!), the French robot duo never took the stage. But its members, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, attended the festival and assorted parties throughout the weekend unmasked, and mostly unnoticed.

The fact that the most talked-about group at Coachella was able to mingle undetected is not necessarily a commentary on the self-absorption of the après-Coachella celebrants. After all, it’s hard to take in all your surroundings when you’re constantly queuing for a drink, reapplying sunscreen, trying to find your friends, and Instagramming the best moments from behind dark shades. As much as Coachella proper is about the music, Coachella parties are about seeing and being seen (in person or on social media). With an audience of savvy Millennial and Gen X consumers, it’s no wonder brands from Absolut to Forever 21 were eager to join the festivities, and foot the bill too.

During Weekend One, the Renaissance Esmeralda Hotel (typically a resort for tennis and golf-playing seniors) hosted the Sahara Parties, the most EDM of the off-fest events, co-sponsored by clubbing juggernauts Wynn Social and SBE. Clubs like Greystone Manor, XIV, Hyde and Wynn’s XS somehow brought the crowds, atmosphere and essence from their Vegas/L.A. nightlife axis, with talent like Chuckie and Morgan Page helming the decks. CoverGirl endorsers Nervo headlined Friday night, though some of their spotlight may have been stolen by their opener Connor Cruise (Tom’s son).

For those deemed special by somebody at some point, there were limited-access, exclusive parties at private “mansions” and “undisclosed” locations all over the Desert Cities, hosted by fashion brands like Wildfox Couture and Lacoste. Further from the festival (geographically at least), both the Saguaro and Ace hotels in Palm Springs featured ongoing sponsored events all weekend.

Coachella crashers could pick up a discounted Swatch at the Saguaro while DJ sets from Forever 21 spokesmodel Sky Ferreira (amateur) to Classixx (amazing) soundtracked their slow and steady alcohol intake, some courtesy of Corzo Tequila. Others headed to Ace for a little late night reggae, curated by nightlife impresario Serge Becker’s Jamaica-themed New York eatery Miss Lily’s. Buzzy trap-hop producer Hudson Mohawke (half of TNGHT with Lunice; part of Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. crew) turned up for a Sunday set. The Ace’s parties continue every night this week, while the Saguaro won’t resume again until next weekend.