Music meeting culture is always a beautiful occurrence to witness and Desert Trip 2016 was a great event for that to happen. A culmination + gathering of six of THE most iconic rock and roll groups of all time, along with 75,000 of their closest friends and fans in the heart of the beautiful California desert.
Politics and Art collide with the first generation of protesters. We can say, "Old-Chella," or other clever terms, but people forget it was a historic gathering of musical legends. In some cultures besides our western culture, people of age have experience and that wisdom is met with respect and admiration; this was our mindset when attending this event. This was a rare opportunity to see musical icons I've only heard in recorded form.
Bob Dylan set the stage for the weekend with an enchanting set reminiscent of the vintage Americana that inspired his early work. Black and white images of the desert solidify the feeling of running down Route 66 while listening to a crackly AM radio. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Dylan performance without “Like a Rolling Stone”, the namesake for the band following him. The Stones owned the stage with energy not even found in performers 50 years younger. Though the songs have decreased in tempo and Mick Jagger’s voice has weathered with the years, the band can still play with the rest of them. Apparently sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll represent some kind of magical elixir on par with drinking from the fountain of youth. The final few songs were accompanied by a fireworks display that rival a small town’s Fourth of July Celebration.
Day Two began with Neil Young, known for his folklore-esque lyrics and sound, going from slow and calm to distorted hard rock throughout the duration of his set. Always politically motivated, last weekend’s show was no exception. Young protested California, while still praising the state, taking a picnic basket full of seeds and throwing them to nearby people. Paul McCartney lived up to every possible expectation one could imagine. People were on their feet for every song, cheering and singing along to the tunes that played over their radiowaves for the last 50 years like it is the first time they have ever heard them. There is still something surreal about hearing the first song I ever learned on guitar played by one of the original artists. The pinnacle of the night was “Hey Jude”, with every single person singing that same chorus together, matching the volume of McCartney himself. Walking back to the parking lot, the massive crowd started singing the chorus together even though the show was long over.
The Who took Day Three by storm, going all out for the last show of their two-year tour. Daltrey and Pete Townsend continued with their classic microphone swinging and cartwheel antics to the delight of the crowd. Roger Waters closed off the festival with a rousing, psychedelic set that was well-assisted by his new quadraphonic sound system, something he apparently spent the previous several months improving.
In this day and age of social media, it was nice to be reminded of days before the internet, where musicianship and songwriting was centerstage. Here you find people of all walks of life and, surprisingly, I met not a single person from California. And everyone was stoked- incredibly happy and always kind. This made me feel assured that the world is in good hands. Even the staffers were kind and willing to go above and beyond. There was an air of awesomeness throughout the entire three days. In addition, there was also a record store selling a variety of singles and 33’s and a photo exhibit full of vintage rock memories.
All in all...Desert Trip 2016 = an incredible experience with an out-of-this-world lineup. Here's to hoping there will be many more festivals of freedom, musicianship and likemindedness.