Old Dogs, New Tricks at Desert Trip Music Festival

Despite the frequent jokes about Desert Trip Music Festival as “Coachella for old people,” the first weekend of the Indio concert series witnessed a number of firsts for the megastar lineup of performers.

The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters, and the Who all played at the inaugural festival, held October 7-9 and 14-16 at the Empire Polo Club, the same site as the notorious Coachella festival. The Stones played material from their forthcoming album, Blue and Lonesome, while Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters debuted an updated version of the band’s famous late-70s stage shows with some pointed criticism directed toward a certain contemporary Republican presidential candidate.

Yet the power of nostalgia was not lost in the mix. The Beatles’ music played a prominent theme throughout the three-night festival; in addition to McCartney’s own set with his band, he also jammed with Neil Young on the number, “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?”, a song never performed live by the ex-Beatle before. The Stones also ran through a cover of “Come Together,” from the Beatles’ 1969 Abbey Road, and the Who featured Zak Starkey, Ringo’s son, on drums.

Though the average age of the performers who appeared on stage was 72 years young, the crowd attending the festival had a much broader range of demographics. Young twenty- and thirty-somethings sported retro-chic festival wear — dirty bandannas, vintage denim, fringed jackets, and throwback leather bracelets — while the older crowds mostly stuck to the requisite “normcore”, a type of dad fashion mostly consisting of polo shirts, loafers, and khaki shorts.

Despite its far removal from the sort of youthful up-and-coming acts that usually litter summer music festivals, the Desert Trip atmosphere maintained a good sense of humor about its “Oldchella” status.

“Welcome to the Palm Springs retirement home for genteel English musicians,” Mick Jagger joked to the crowd at the beginning of the Stones’ set.

The musicians certainly had reason to enjoy the weekend: the average payout for their appearances is said to be $7 million apiece. For the concert-goers, three-day passes to attend the festival ranged from $199 to $1,599.

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