For us Baby Boomers, the outdoor Rock and Roll concert is our idea of church, summer camp, and bar night with buddies, rolled into one. “Desert Trip,” held over two Autumn weekends at the Empire Polo Club in Coachella Valley, California, was the ultimate concert experience. It started the day tickets went on sale….I waited online for six hours and never got through. It was a frenzy. Almost everyone I knew was at their computers, texting each other, and trying desperately to “get the golden ticket.” Luckily, a friend did, and I was able to secure 4 tickets; a set for my husband and I (in the VIP standing pit) and a set for my daughter and her boyfriend (general admission in the far back). My friend grabbed a parking pass too for us all to share. Hotel rooms were going fast, so we booked some “motel rooms” at the Embassy Suites in Palm Desert. More on that to come. Ugh.
The concert was a Three-Night event with two headliners per evening. Opening night was Bob Dylan followed by The Rolling Stones. Night two gave us Neil Young and then Paul McCartney. The closing show was The Who and Roger Waters (performing the Pink Floyd repertoire). We also purchased tickets to the “dining event of the festival” called “Outstanding In the Field.” It was described as “an outdoor desert dining experience like no other—a four-course prix fixe seated dinner (at 3:30 PM!) in a luxurious, shaded setting. This fine dining experience is prepared by master chefs, complete with wine pairings, craft beers and cocktails. It’s like eating at the best restaurant in town, right before attending the best concert.” When we arrived for our $225 dining experience, we found out that only a few tables were actually shaded, and people had grabbed those much earlier in the day! The fights began as guests started to “steal” umbrellas as soon as was physically possible. Yep, we got one! We also found out that the master chefs were assigned specific tables on the field, so that instead of sampling food from all the famous chefs, we would only be sampling food from our “assigned” two chefs. Hmmmmm. I did get to sit at the table near Emilia Clarke, from Game of Thrones, so that pretty much made everything cool for me. (By the way, she was extremely gracious to all the fans who wanted photos taken with her.)
Each of the musicians “gave it their all” from start to finish. (Each band reportedly was paid 6 million dollars to perform.) The sound quality was beyond compare. The large screen behind the artists was enormous and the other smaller screens dispersed throughout the crowd were placed so that even folks in the back had a clear view. I was hoping that the musicians would spend time jamming together on some interesting renditions of famous songs, but of the six bands, only Young and McCartney shared the stage. Their duets of “Give Peace A Chance,” and “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” were hardcore rocking at it’s finest.
The Stones had a wardrobe rack on the stage and Mick Jagger changed outfits several times during his performance. The lighting also played a crucial role setting the scene for their songs. The red strobes highlighted “Sympathy For The Devil.”
Neil Young had several teepees erected along the sides and back of the stage. He made a handful of political statements (as was expected), but he stuck to the music from his latest album, and fan favorites, rocking with his band “Promise of The Real.” When he ended with “Rockin’ In The Free World,” he had the entire crowd singing along.
McCartney took a turn slowing things down and playing the piano with some early Beatles numbers like “Love Me Do.” After jamming to “Back in the U.S.S.R.” among others, he appropriately ended his encore with “The End.”
I’m not a Roger Water’s fan, but the graphics and crowd excitement when “Money” and “Time” came on, were palpable. Clearly, he has a giant following. He concluded with “Comfortably Numb,” a feeling that I shared after the 3 days of Desert Trip.
Our motel was so dilapidated that the sign was half falling over. Accident with a semi? The room was dusty and dirty from the desert tumbleweeds in the adjacent parking lot. Scott disliked the room so much that he threatened to sleep in the car the last night. Luckily my sister had a spare room in her rental, which her children had abandoned that evening, so we slept in her children’s bed. What more needs to be said? It’s the rock star life, I guess.