The Desert Trip Festival: Bad Timing For A Good Idea?

rollingstonesbannerI must confess to mixed feelings about the Desert Trip Festival, the already-sold-out Classic Rock God Jamboree slated for Indio California in October.

The fanboy in me is ready to pack the frisbee and the cooler and head straight for the desert. I’ve seen all these acts before, but seeing them back-to-back has got to be incredibly special. I can only imagine the cumulative psychic and emotional power of seeing performances from these quintessential artists over the span of a couple of days.

Really, just one day would do. To me the most exciting ”Oldchella” night by far is the Friday show, with Dylan opening for the Stones. That sounds like a six-hour experience leaving no corner of your psyche untouched, from the sacred to the profane. Cheaper than therapy, too.

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And yet, despite the obvious appeal, there’s something about the festival that is not sitting right with me and making me feel a little uneasy.

I’m not talking about the commercialism and expensive tickets that so many people are crying about. For heaven’s sake people, it is 2016, have you looked at the price of concert tickets lately? You have to be pretty credulous not to expect that a lineup featuring Dylan, the Stones, McCartney, Neil Young, The Who and Roger Waters will command top dollar.

No, what makes me a little queasy and uneasy about the Desert Trip Festival is how it relates to what Fred said about Rock Star mortality. In a six month span when we’ve lost Bowie and Frey and Lemmy and Kantner and Haggard and Prince, it almost seems a little ghoulish to gather all these aging icons together. Will there be anyone attending the festival who won’t be silently wondering which one of these greats will be the next unfortunate soul to get their ticket punched?

It reminds me of those ancient rituals where the tribe gathers in celebration as the wizened and feeble Elder leaves alone to die in communion with nature, except now there’s better music and gelato vendors.

Maybe I’m being a little too morbid. Maybe I’m overthinking things. But you can be damn sure that the media will be painting the festival as the “end of an era”. Everyone will say something like “what began at Woodstock came to an end at Desert Trip”. I’m sensing a wistful and sad undercurrent to this festival that threatens to harsh even the happiest buzz.

If only they had included a couple of younger acts, say, U2 and Jack White, they would have chased this elephant right out of the room for me. But I guess that’s my problem. The festival is sold out, a second weekend has been added and is selling out quickly, so obviously people don’t share my reservations about it. I hope everybody has a fantastic time.

As for me, maybe I’ll fill the cooler and schlep it into my living room for when I’m watching Desert Trip live online in October. Gotta love these modern times.

By Jim Pietryga ( [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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