Desert Trip: the festival for the baby boomer with a bucket list

If you greeted the deaths of Bowie and Prince by wishing youd seen them live while you had the chance, the people behind Coachella have come up with the ideal event at a price

The recently announced baby boomer music festival called Desert Trip set for the beginning of October at the same venue as Coachella, the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California has been billed as once in a lifetime. Thats a real cute slogan, since most of the acts involved are pushing 80, and I dont mean the miles per hour on their car either they all probably drive rather slow, if you think about it. If they drive at all. After the untimely deaths of rock icons David Bowie and Prince, it stands to reason that were going to start losing more beloved musicians. Such is the frailty of human existence.

Every time someone of that stature dies, its a loss collectively felt by fans all around the world. Inevitably, you or one of your friends will say: Golly, I wish I had just dropped a few hundred dollars to go see [Dead Musician X] when I had the chance. When the news of Princes death broke, I certainly muttered a similar refrain to myself. Id skipped his month-long residency at the Forum in Inglewood, California, because at the time I was broke and eating pasta for every meal. Its easy to take for granted that these people will always be around to entertain you, and sobering when you realize they wont be.

The subtle marketing genius of once in a lifetime is a dog-whistle reminder that Paul McCartney might keel over at any moment, and every second you are not watching him perform Blackbird is a complete and total waste. For $399, you can cross see Neil Young off your bucket list, and if you are in the target demographic for this event, you definitely have a bucket list.

As you would expect from the promoters behind Coachella, there are more expensive options than the aforementioned $399, experiences curated for the truly crazy music fan. There are three tiers of reserved floor tickets: $699, $999 and $1,599. Reserved grandstand will cost you $699 or $999. The standing pit which sounds like one of the options on the wheel from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome costs $1,599. All these passes get you in for the entire three-day festival. Technically, its not a day so much as it is an evening, as the performances start at sunset and theres only two bands a day. So, while your Coachella pass might put a sizable dent in your wallet, at least you have the ability to see a dozen acts at a time. You might say it doesnt seem worth it at all.



figcaption class=”caption” caption–img caption caption–img” itemprop=”description”> Bob Dylans Never Ending Tour: sadly destined to end one day. Photograph: Everett/Rex/Shutterstock

A single-day pass is $199. I did a bit of research and found that I could see Paul McCartney at the Target Center in Minneapolis on 4 May for $37 if I purchased the ticket on StubHub. I could go see the Who at Staples Center in my hometown of Los Angeles for $72. I wouldnt even have to stand out in the middle of the desert to do it. I could sit in an air-conditioned facility and gently nod off during the opening act instead of having to brave the deadly standing pit. Two men enter, only one man leaves the standing pit.

The only justification I can think of for attending Desert Trip is that it allows the nostalgia-addicted baby boomer the chance to see all these bands in one shot. Adding up the cost of a single ticket for the Rolling Stones, the Who, McCartney, Neil Young and the rest would probably equal or surpass the amount of a pass to Desert Trip, depending on which tier of opulence you choose. If you look at it that way, its totally worth it. By the time the weekend is over, you wont even have a bucket list left. I just wish there were a tier even lower than the general admission price, because as someone who missed seeing one of his favorite artists perform because of lack of funds, I empathize with the struggling Bob Dylan fan who just cant get it together to go out to Indio.

Heres what I propose: for $75, you can purchase the Zootopia Package. A few hours before the real show starts, you are led through a makeshift tent area. Its pitch black as you enter, save for the recognizable guitar riff from Start Me Up. As Micks vocals kick in, the lights come on and before you stands all of your rock gods in the flesh, except theyre behind 6 inches of bulletproof glass. Snipers are positioned in a crows nest near the ceiling of the tent in case someone in the crowd gets frisky. Pre-recorded performances of everyones hit songs fill the room while you watch Roger Daltrey sip from a teacup and do vocal warm-up exercises. Sure, you never see them perform any actual music, but you can tell everyone you know that you saw all your favorite bands one last time even if it was just Keith Richards playing ping-pong in a cage.

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