As a proud ten-time Coachella attendee, I was more than a little curious when Goldenvoice announced Desert Trip, fondly referred to as "Oldchella." Leave it to the creators of the two-weekend music festival to find another way to make history. When Desert Trip instantly sold out both weekends, it was clear the festival was going to be financially successful. But what we did not know was whether it would be able to re-create the magic that makes Coachella the Super Bowl of American music festivals.
While Coachella is designed to be a never-ending immersive adventure for the millennials that roam it, Desert Trip is designed to give generation X, baby boomers and their kids a direct, one-stage concert experience they will never forget. Indoor bathrooms replaced the porta-potties; massive grandstands replaced the beer gardens; "Diamond Lounge" bars and a "Culinary Experience" fancy food court gave VIPers a place they could go and endlessly talk about the celebrities they saw. (It was less of a Paris Hilton and Justin Bieber scene, more of a Leonardo DeCaprio, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn destination.)
Goldenvoice’s commitment to delivering the best music-viewing experience in the industry continues at Desert Trip, as fans marveled at the five massive LED screens and 24 speaker towers that allow everyone to feel like they were front row from anywhere inside the massive outdoor venue. This larger-than-life setup left many attendees with a look of sheer wonder on their faces.
In no particular order, here are the ten most striking observations from Weekend 1 of Desert Trip.
1. Coachella-goers seem to be on their phones constantly, which Desert Trip-goers were not. However, every single Desert Trip attendee seemed to have missed the memo about turning the flash off while recording video.
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2. Seemingly all hard-core Rolling Stones fans have their own Mick Jagger dance, which they busted out with abandon on Friday night.
3. Desert Trip food vendors seemed to run out of food at an alarming rate. How does this happen? Four vendors in a row were sold out Friday night before the Rolling Stones even started.
4. The Desert Trip crowd could be fit into two primary style categories: people who had read about the fashion show that is Coachella and went out of their way to look awesome, and people who wore the same things they wear every other day of the week. Both categories were equally fun to be around.
5. The real magic of DT has been getting to see families rocking out to the music that they all have in common. The parents grew up listening to it and in turn introduced it to their kids. Getting to see a show of this scale with your parents or kids is a new territory that music festivals need to cross further into.
6. Goldenvoice earned the super-high ticket price in my book just between the running water at the free refill stations, and transportation that streamlined the walk between the parking lot and festival gates. (Though they had to work out some kinks on Friday — we heard several attendees complain that their shuttles were inching along so slowly that they finally got out and walked. Saturday already appeared to run much more smoothly.)
7. A mostly coherent crowd was punctuated by the occasional wasted soccer mom or rowdy Boy Scout leader Dad, a most fun addition to the festival environment.
8. Desert Trip is an undoubtedly premium setting for picking up a new older sugar mama or daddy. If any fellow millennials are so inclined, Weekend 2 is just days away, and some cheap tickets are still out there on the secondary market.
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9. While Coachella is a marathon that leaves hundreds if not thousands of attendees napping toward the end of the night, Desert Trip is sprint that everyone seemed to be up for. I didn’t come across a single person napping.
10. The Desert Trip format is a new opportunity for parents to meet their grown kids on equal footing, away from forced hangouts like holidays, weddings and funerals. A weekend of partying and laughing on common ground blurred the lines of the kind of fun you can have with family versus friends. Just think how many young adults got to be designated drivers for their parents for the first time!
Goldenvoice has yet to say whether or not Desert Trip will be back next year. But here's hoping the days of tipsy soccer parents and grandparents on the Polo Fields are here to stay.