Road-Tripping Through May’s Live-Music Circuit

These five fests are worth the trek

May 2
Sunset Ranch Oasis, Mecca
Fifteen bands—among them downbeat L.A. rockers Warpaint, ethereal songstress Chelsea Wolfe, and ebullient electronic artist Dan Deacon—offer an independent spirit that recalls the primordial days of Coachella.
What to bring: Dust mask, rock shirt, and neon sunglasses.

May 9
Mission San Juan Capistrano, Orange County
Mariachi groups from across the state compete for glory in the brassy fest. Set in
the historic mission’s courtyard, the event also hosts performances by the dance group Ballet Folklorico de San Juan Capistrano.
What to bring: Fancy sombrero, floral dresses, and sturdy dancing shoes.

May 14-17
Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground
Local high-desert bands rock in a family-friendly atmosphere. There’s on-site camping and a heady lineup of yogis celebrating the funky town’s motto, “Keep Joshua Tree Weird.”
What to bring: Crystal necklace, camping gear, and good vibrations.

May 18
Loma Vista Gardens, Big Sur
Folksy and spacey acts—like the melodic rock group Real Estate, the lo-fi garage band Woods, and the beach-bummy White Fence (all on the Woodsist record label)—assemble for a dash of well-behaved partying among the pines in one of Cali’s prettier patches of real estate.
What to bring: Beard combs and Ewok repellent.

May 29-31
Napa Valley
Robert Plant, Public Enemy, Snoop Dogg, and other legacy acts fill
out a massive bill of dozens of upstarts—including Imagine Dragons, Young the Giant, and Passion Pit—worth spilling your syrah for.
What to bring: Shatterproof wineglasses and stain-resistant clothes.