Desert Trip was indeed an epic experience! Read on to find out why.
I just experienced a grand blessing. Not one, but two incredible weekends experiencing rock ‘n roll’s best, right in my own backyard of the California Coachella Valley. Honestly, the only thing that could be better than attending weekend one of Desert Trip was to experience it all over again a week later.
One thing that amazes me is that this entire music festival was virtually conceived of, launched and then executed in the span of just over six months. The event brought together six legendary acts: Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, The Who and Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd fame).
These septuagenarians proved they’ve still “got it” and thrilled their fans at the event that was also billed as “Old-chella.” Mick Jagger joked that the festival should have been called the “Catch ’em Before They Croak Tour.” Old-guy jokes aside, I was quite impressed and amazed at the stamina these guys exhibited. Could I have pranced for miles around a stage like Mick did for two hours? I seriously doubt it!
The setting was the gorgeous expanse of land comprising the Empire Polo Club in Indio. The music started each night as the sun began to set over the picturesque desert mountains. It was as if God himself painted a beautiful masterpiece in the sky each evening, complete with a full moon that rose during Neil Young’s hit, Harvest Moon.
One thing I experienced that most did not was taking it all in from three distinct vantage points. Weekend one, Tommy and I had VIP tickets. This did not put us very close to the stage, mind you, but we could at least see it. The gigantic screens made it feel up close and personal. I also spent a few hours that weekend sitting on a beach chair with friends in the General Admission section. That area is truly a blast and offers the most “festival feel.” During weekend two, we were guests in a fabulous suite on the top floor of the grandstands. That put us a little further from the stage than our VIP tickets, but the panoramic views of the entire grounds and its sea of humanity was quite a sight to take in.
The bottom line? There really were no bad seats in the house!
Top 10 Reasons Desert Trip Was Simply Epic!
#10 The Logistics and Organization of the Event
Event organizers Goldenvoice and AEG did an amazing job at making this gigantic event work. Virtually no details were overlooked. Seventy five thousand people came, watched, and departed fairly seamlessly every night.
I also watched each night of the first weekend as the organizers improved on problems of the night before. For example, I found the bathrooms on the first night of weekend one to be dirty and without toilet paper by 10 p.m. The second night, attendants were cleaning the bathrooms almost every time I stopped in. Security also got much tighter as the weekend continued. Night one, my husband nabbed this up-close shot of Mick. That couldn’t have happened without a Pit wristband on any other night.
My only complaint would be the system they decided upon for Uber riders. Instead of grabbing a car right on the grounds (as I did at the Stagecoach and Coachella festivals), they put us on a bus to a nearby fairground. So after a long walk to the shuttle, a long shuttle drive due to traffic, and then my Uber ride, I arrived home almost two hours after I left the concert. Needless to say, I chose other transportation every night after the first one. (Note, if you have some bucks to spend, the Diamond Parking is well worth it. If you don’t, there’s some really good FREE parking very close!).
#9 The Stage and Sound System
The stage was nothing short of phenomenal. I can’t even describe how large it was; I’ve never seen anything like it! The grandiosity of the stage, along with the four giant screens (two in front and two more between VIP and General Admission seating), really helped assure that every seat was a great seat. The sound system was awesome, too. No need for the ear plugs I brought just in case the sound was too loud for my 50+-year-old ear drums. Roger Waters’ set including surround sound that was almost surreal (at times I wondered, Is there a helicopter about to land right here right now? Is there a pack of dogs roaming the festival?)
#8 Food and Drinks
Although there was plenty of junk food available, the festival organizers did a great job of including plenty of gourmet options that were healthy and delicious. Those who were inclined to drop another couple of hundred dollars could even arrive early to enjoy a five-course meal prepared by some of the nation’s top chefs. There were plenty of booths from which to purchase meals and beverages, and the lines were short most of the time.
#7 The Bathrooms
I didn’t use a port a potty the entire weekend. The event sported large trailers for bathroom facilities, complete with flushing toilets and air conditioning. This was a definite a nicety for the mostly over-50 concert attendees.
#6 The Desert Trip Bubble
Desert Trip created a bubble around us, protecting us from all things election 2016. (Well, ALMOST all things. Roger Waters popped the bubble both Sundays with his anti-Trump sentiments, and giant pink floating pig… these really didn’t belong at this event.)
Other than Waters act, we were all just people. Mostly Americans, but many from foreign countries. And we were happy and peaceful. Liberals and conservatives all joined together enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I’m really not ready to re-engage with the real world yet. 🙂
#5 The Grandstands
If I had not attended other festivals at the polo fields, I simply would not have believed that the grandstands were temporary. They were constructed of white, painted wood panels and were made complete with elevators. Seriously! The grandstands really offered a unique vantage for those seated there that the VIP and General Admission seats did not.
#4 The Staff
I don’t know how they did it, but the organizers managed to hire the most cheerful, helpful, and friendly staff I’ve ever seen at an event. Almost every staff person I encountered was exceptional in their hospitality skills. What a difference this makes at an event like this!
#3 The Suites
I’ve never attended a concert (or any other event) that offered such a luxurious experience. The suite we were in had a bar overlooking the VIP section and the stage. We chose to sit at that bar rather than in our assigned seats all three nights. The well-appointed suite had two bars, an incredibly friendly and attentive staff, gourmet appetizers, dinner, dessert, and late-night snacks created by Wolfgang Puck. The food was fabulous! So were the specialty drinks. My favorite menu items were the short ribs, mac and cheese, and crab claws, along with the late-night snacks of tater tots and mini grilled cheese sandwiches. I felt incredibly spoiled and pampered and BLESSED to be there.
#2 The Fireworks
O-M-G. Each night’s show ended with a firework display that took our breath away. My favorite display was the fireworks that accompanied Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die. I think the firework shows were even better weekend two than they were on weekend one.
#1 The Music
Nothing else I’ve written about would even matter if the music were not epic. But it was! I mean REALLY epic. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and Charlie Watts were a joy to watch. It’s very clear these gentlemen thoroughly enjoy working together, even after five decades. The Stones played hit after hit after hit.
Bob Dylan was a disappointment on weekend one, mostly because he turned off the camera that was on him, leaving us to watch bizarre videos of birds and trains and I don’t know what else. But he greatly improved his performance (and played more of his hits) during weekend two. Perhaps his Nobel Prize positively affect his mood. 🙂
Paul McCartney was a blast. Can you even imagine swaying and singing Hey Jude with 75+ other fans? Quite a memorable moment! He played lots of his early Beatles tunes, as well as some Wings songs that I’ve always loved.
Neil Young’s voice was pretty much the same as always, and I loved his passion. He played along with a the Promise of the Real band, of which two members are sons of Willie Nelson. Perhaps my favorite moment both weekends was when Neil took the stage with Paul and did a rendition of Why Don’t We Do It in the Road. They had a blast and so did we!
Roger Daltry and Pete Townschend sounded the most like their younger selves than anybody else. They rocked us out with tons of energy while they played all our favorite songs. In this video you’ll see the result of Pete’s (guitar?) injury as well as Ringo Star’s son playing the drums!
Roger Waters by far had the best sound system, and he brought us a wide range of his best work from over the years. I especially loved re-living the sounds of The Wall, which was a chart topper when I was a junior in high school.
My favorites of the festival in order? The Rolling Stones (didn’t anticipate this beforehand, but they were beyond amazing), Paul McCartney, Neil Young, The Who, Roger Waters, then Bob Dylan.
Will I go again if it happens again next year? YESSSS! And I’d recommend you start saving now for the biggest rock ‘n roll party ever!
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