Who Would You Choose To Play The Next Desert Trip Festival?

By any measure, last summer’s Desert Trip Festival was one of the biggest Rock concerts in history, bringing together six Classic Rock giants for the first time on the same stage – Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, The Who and Roger Waters. Not only was a splendid time had by all, but ‘Oldchella’, as it became known, grossed $160 million, the biggest take for a Rock festival in history.

Organizers are being coy about whether a second Desert Trip festival will even take place, but you have to figure their accountants are drooling at the prospect of another windfall like that. The big question would be whether they could assemble another lineup that could draw as well as the first one. Or to put it another way, who would be the six next-biggest Classic Rock artists in line?

Rolling Stone ran an article speculating about exactly this, listing the reasons why or why not each of 13 artists could possibly play at Desert Trip II. It’s an interesting list, although some of their picks are extreme longshots. I agree that an event of this magnitude seems like a perfect place for a reunion, but at this point in time there’s no way in hell Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Police or Simon & Garfunkel are going to reunite.

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On the other hand the Kinks, or more accurately Ray and Dave Davies, have been hinting at a possible rapprochement for months. A Kinks reunion would surely jack up tons of excitement for the festival.

But I think the two most obvious next-in-line artists have to be Bruce Springsteen and Elton John. Bruce doesn’t like festivals and hates ticket pricing for the wealthy, but given his stature in the Rock universe and his continued ability to deliver large in concert, he’s an obvious choice. And say what you want about Elton, the guy is a pro’s pro with a lot of pride in his work, and given that his seriously underrated long-time cohorts Nigel Olsson on drums and Davey Johnstone on guitar are still playing with him, you can count on a fantastic performance.

The article lists Fleetwood Mac as being a likely selection and I agree they are likely to be chosen, but they wouldn’t quite make my personal list. Neither would Aerosmith or Billy Joel or Tina Turner. And if they invite Eighties acts like U2 or The Police then it’s no longer the “generational” festival it is supposed to be. Eric Clapton’s an intriguing choice, just imagine the Rock sideman royalty he could invite to play with him.

I would go with three artists that aren’t on Rolling Stone’s list at all. Stevie Wonder is still touring, his voice is still magnificent, and his particular message of love would definitely add warmth and groove and inclusivity to the proceedings. Steely Dan is also still touring, their live shows get better and better each time out, and their influence is immeasurable.

Does Steely Dan have the historical or popular heft to belong on a list like this? I’m not sure, but if it was up to me, I would pick ‘em. Same question for Van Morrison, one of the most unique Rock acts of all time, who is touring up a storm these days with a big band like his early seventies tours. Is he big enough and important enough to make this list? I don’t know but i’ll say yes.

So here are my choices for the next Desert Trip Festival, if it ever happens:

      • Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
      • Elton John
      • The Kinks
      • Stevie Wonder
      • Steely Dan
      • Van Morrison (or Eric Clapton, I can’t decide)

Now that’s an amazing concert lineup, I daresay it looks almost as good as the first one. But no matter who is chosen to perform, the next Desert Trip festival will definitely have more of a Seventies feel. It has to. That’s when the next batch of Classic Rock giants hit their peak. Maybe each subsequent version of the Festival should focus on each subsequent decade, because let’s face it, there only so many superstars-per-decade to go around. Once they start reaching down for the second-tier artists they become a glorified revival show on the casino tour.

Anyway it’s fun to play make-believe promoter, you should try it. What would be your ideal lineup for the next Desert Trip Festival?

Photo: By Aparkswv (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One comment to “Who Would You Choose To Play The Next Desert Trip Festival?”
  1. Pingback: It Looks Like Oldtimer Festivals Are Now Becoming A Thing | Rocknuts

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