If you’re driving to the desert Friday for the second weekend of rock’s legendary “Oldchella” performances, the “surprise” opening act will feature the latest Nobel Prize winner.
No, the surprise isn’t that the first one on stage Friday night will be Bob Dylan. The surprise is that he unexpectedly – and to gasps and some laughter – this week was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first songwriter to gain that honor for his life-long work as a lyricist.
Set to become a Coachella Valley cultural staple, the Desert Trip music festival will host Dylan and several legendary rockers to start off the second and final weekend after entertaining thousands at its inaugural weekend last week.
The festival was originally intended to be a single-weekend affair, but organizers added a second weekend in response to popular demand after the event was announced in May.
Playfully dubbed “Oldchella” as the performers’ average age is 72, the festival largely targets baby boomers. The big name performers and a relatively upscale audience with an average age in the low 50s were expected to help the festival generate revenue in excess of the record $84 million raked in during last year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Set times will remain the same through the second weekend.
Dylan will open the show at 6:50 p.m. Friday, while The Rolling Stones will close out the evening beginning at 9:40 p.m.
Dylan opened Desert Trip’s inaugural showing last week with a nearly 90- minute set featuring his greatest hits and his iconic harmonica.
The Rolling Stones included material both old and new, including hits from their upcoming album “Blue and Lonesome” and a cover of the Beatles’ “Come Together,” with Saturday performer Paul McCartney enjoying the performance from a private VIP box.
McCartney repaid the gesture by covering “I Wanna Be Your Man” Saturday night.
At $199 for single day general admission tickets and $399 for a full weekend, admission prices are comparable to Music promoter Goldenvoice’s other Indio festivals, Coachella and Stagecoach. However, for Desert Trip Goldenvoice also arranged for pricey amenities catering to an older crowd, including a top- shelf $179 “culinary experience” featuring dishes from chefs from across the country and stadium seating, something unheard of at Goldenvoice’s other festivals. VIP tickets could range to $3,000 for a full weekend of concerts and goodies.
While the festival brought audiences out in droves like Indio’s other annual mega-concerts, Desert Trip festival goers were much less rowdy, at least according to Indio police statistics.
Indio police arrested 28 people during the first Desert Trip weekend — most of them for alcohol-related violations, said Indio police Sgt. Daniel Marshall. Just under 30 others also received citations, primarily for misusing disabled placards and license plates.
In contrast, this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April yielded 270 arrests across both festival weekends, including for a stabbing stemming from a fight among members of the festival’s security staff. At the Stagecoach Festival about a month later, 157 people were arrested or cited, primarily for alcohol-related violations.
Various three-day packages for Desert Trip’s second weekend were available earlier this week but have since sold out through the festival’s official site. However, tickets can still be found on various secondary sites.
Attendees must remember to get their entry wristbands activated at activation.deserttrip.com before arriving at the Empire Polo Grounds.
Hotel rooms in the Coachella Valley were booked solid months in advance, but concert goers may take advantage of vehicle and tent camping just off the venue. Reserving camping spots ranges from $99 per car and tent camping to a $10,000 Safari Tent, which comes fully furnished with its own secure fence line and dedicated security.
In addition to the live performances, the festival features “The Desert Trip Photography Experience,” a 36,000-square-foot exhibit of more than 200 photos of the performers, housed within a massive air-conditioned indoor tent.
Free day parking is available starting at noon each day, along with designated shuttle drop-off and pick-up areas available to move concert goers to and from the venue. Shuttles going to the venue will run daily from 1:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Shuttles departing the Empire Polo Grounds will continue operating until 60 minutes after music ends.
The Empire Polo Grounds will open to festival-goers at 2 p.m. each day.
–Staff and wire reports