Desert Hearts: Los Angeles Was a Successful Festival in the Face of Adversity

Desert Hearts had to pivot from a camping festival to an event in downtown Los Angeles with just weeks to spare, and it was a success by all accounts.


When it comes to house music events and culture, few collectives do it better than Desert Hearts. Well known for their annual camping festival in California, they changed their event location in 2023 to downtown Los Angeles at The Torch at L.A. Coliseum due to logistical and financial reasons.

Nothing can truly emulate the vibe of a camping festival, and Desert Hearts always sets itself apart from the pack due to the vibes and collective energy of the crowd. The passionate community behind Desert Hearts did not take lightly to the news of the venue change. While Desert Hearts: Los Angeles might not have been a camping festival experience like Electric Forest, Desert Hearts overcame adversity and delivered a solid two-day house music event in the heart of Los Angeles.

Desert Hearts prides themselves on their annual music festival in the California desert, but that just wasn’t in the cards this year due to a variety of factors.

In this Reddit post, Mikey Lion and Marbs explained that it wasn’t just one reason that the festival had to change plans. Due to radius clauses from events like Coachella, rising production costs and inflation, and an ever-saturated market for ticket buyers, throwing a destination festival in the Inland Empire of California was not financially or logistically possible in 2023.

Rather than cancel the event completely, the Desert Hearts team (Mikey Lion, Marbs, Porky, and Lee Reynolds) decided to change the location last minute to the newly opened venue outside of the L.A. Coliseum, The Torch. While the energy of Desert Hearts in the desert would not truly be replicated, the experience at Desert Hearts: Los Angeles was a success on all counts.

Desert Hearts: Los Angeles was nestled outside the Coliseum with two stages across the stadium campus.

Getting in past security was a breeze, and the venue setup was mostly comfortable. There was a great selection of merchandise throughout the vendor village, with a few food trucks and snacks (and lemonade) placed around as well. There were lines for drinks across the venue, but one big plus were the stadium-sized bathrooms on both ends of the festival.

I don’t have any major complaints about The Torch, but there’s just not much you can do with a small half oval-shaped concourse on the outside of an old football stadium. There have been a few other shows announced there recently, but Desert Hearts is by far the biggest music event that the Torch has hosted. It’s a decent venue for a show, and Desert Hearts was able to bring in their own stages and art pieces, which was a nice touch. The production quality was impressive, and there was little sound bleed between the Desert Hearts Stage and City Hearts Stage.

The music at Desert Hearts: Los Angeles was awesome, with two stages going Saturday and Sunday from 2 PM to midnight.

In our most anticipated artists article before the show, we listed Tiga as one of our favorites on Saturday, but he unfortunately had to cancel. However, the lineup still packed a punch, with some of our favorites of the day being Prospa, Justin Martin, and Rinzen b2b Enamour. Following the event on Saturday night were warehouse afterparties across the city of Los Angeles, with Desert Hearts hosting their own afters into the early morning on both nights of the festival.

After an epic day one, the lineup for Desert Hearts on Sunday only got better. Some of the highlights included Eddy M, Mele, VNSSA, Catz ‘N Dogz, Dusky, Skream, and the Desert Hearts crew b2b ending an epic weekend in Los Angeles.

The vibe at Desert Hearts: Los Angeles was proper, with a reasonable amount of attendees and a friendly energy on the dance floor.

While some Desert Hearts faithful opted to skip this year due to the last second change, there were also plenty of people that opted to go because of the more convenient location. The result was a welcoming house music festival vibe in the heart of Los Angeles. It wasn’t uncommon to see artists mingling around the venue. The art pieces, extensive vendor village, and festival attractions like Frick Frack Blackjack and the healing village added personality as well.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Desert Hearts return to The Torch next year, as I could use an excuse to come back to Los Angeles.

Camping festivals were fun when I first got into the scene, but now that I’m older, nothing beats sleeping in a bed after a long day of music. One thing that previously set apart Desert Hearts Festival was the “One Stage, One Vibe” theme, which is definitely a unique quality. That just wasn’t possible after moving venues and switching from four days to two days, so there’s no doubt the experience was considerably different. But for festivalgoers that are there for the music or to travel to a different festival or city, I’d definitely recommend Desert Hearts: Los Angeles. Especially considering the extremely affordable ticket prices.

DH:LA was a great festival that had to overcome considerable roadblocks to happen at all this year.

And when all of that is considered, the end result is even more impressive. This was my first Desert Hearts event, and certainly not my last. If they bring out a similar lineup next year, you can count on me coming back. The Desert Hearts vibe will always be there, whether the event is thrown in the desert, the city, or a warehouse.

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Story: @michael__premier

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