text ROWLAND AKINDURO
When I first held the pass for Desert Trip in my hand, I must admit the thought did cross my mind, “here we go, oldchella.” I had a bias and it was simply a generational one where I was skeptical about the type of show these aging superstars of years past could possibly put on. Very quickly, it became all too apparent that due to the tremendous amount of massive performance experience these entertainers possessed, they would be capable of delivering such a mind blowing and memorable spectacle. From the Desert Trip Photography Experience, to what appeared to be an infinitely replenished pop up record shop, The atmosphere was rich with a general sense of comradery and an overwhelming amount of respect that permeated unlike any other festival held at the Empire Polo Fields. This may have been due to the collective wisdom possessed by the demographical majority occupying the festival. One striking difference between Desert Trip and other festivals was the construction of the large grandstand seating accommodations providing the unique feel of an outdoor arena. There was still also a floor area for the hardcore fans. I interacted with a patron in line who was wearing a rather tattered Rolling Stones shirt. I commented on his shirt and he proceeded to tell me that it was the same shirt he wore in the 70s when he saw the Rolling Stones live. He was in the pit then and as he lifted up his pit pass it was very apparent that he intended to do the same this time around. I couldn’t count how many millennials were there together with their parents seeing mom and/or dad’s household name musical idols perform for the first time. I also had the chance to interact with people from all over the world that had a genuine interest in musical greatness and everything that comes along with it including performers that have been performing for decades such as the Artists booked for this festival. The vibe of the whole event was very relaxed and informal. Just taking a moment to overhear passing conversations, one could tell there were many affluent individuals in the audience.
Virtually all of the iconic performers that took the stage had several hits that have transcended time and permeated through almost every aspect of American society. This resulted in a choir like projection from the crowd into the cosmos when these songs were performed. The two stand out performances of the weekend were The Rolling Stones and Roger Waters. From Keith Richard’s descriptive traditional mumbling to Mick Jagger’s consistent stage wide power walk, to the amazing lighting and projection work of the production crew, the musical virility displayed by the stones was phenomenal. The anthems that they’ve had decades to conjure up rang far and wide throughout the evening with epic crowd participation. There was even a priceless moment where Jagger poked fun at himself and the other performers of Desert Trip: “I still don’t wanna do any age gags but welcome to the ‘catch em before they croak’ festival”. A man who laughs at himself never runs out of stuff to laugh at i guess. Roger Waters carried the Pink Floyd torch or should I say, prism, passed the wall, around the darkside of the moon, and back. Roger’s show featured a giant anti-Trump blow up Pig floating around the crowd, elevating smokestacks extending from the top of a digitally re-created LED wall, transcendent message driven piercingly colorful images, perfectly timed fog that hovered over the crowd, and a very large three dimensional pyramid fashioned out of what appeared to be perfectly aimed lasers with the full color spectrum of beams shooting directly through to recreate the Dark Side of the Moon album cover in a physical space. It was a very politically charged yet potent experience that left people in awe.
Desert Trip for many was a nostalgic journey into one of the golden eras of modern music history for some, and for others it was an introduction to, or possibly even an affirmation of what makes the greats truly great.
To keep with Desert Trip’s nostalgic vibe, Coachella Magazine decided to take some snapshots on 35mm film with a disposable camera. Thank you Dexter’s Camera in Ventura, CA for processing the rolls. Enjoy.