Rockers with walkers

Coachella grounds will host two Desert Trip weekends this fall

The Stones roll a little differently these days...
  • The Stones roll a little differently these days...
  • Image by Daniel Knighton (@pixelperfectimages)

The band that once put on their own free show at Altamont with drugged-out bikers as security now rolls a little differently.

Anticipated demand for the Rolling Stones (along with The Who, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, and Roger Waters) at the Desert Trip festival was so high that a second weekend of the three-day “concert of the century” went on sale this morning.

Tickets were priced as high as $1599 per person. Volunteers won't be handling security.

While it was announced earlier today that the first weekend (October 7, 8, and 9) had sold out, the truth was that promoters AEG/Goldenvoice had planned to launch a second weekend all along. Some media outlets were surprised when they were first notified at 9:45 this morning that tickets for the second weekend (October 14, 15, and 16) would be going on sale today. Tickets for the first weekend of Desert Trip did not go on sale until 10 a.m.

While the promoters bill the lineup as “six of the world’s most iconic and influential rock-and-roll artists,” some slagged the historic rock fest as “Old-chella” or “rockers with walkers,” since some of the headliners are in their 70s.

The Desert Trip is held in the same Empire Polo Club facility in Indio near Palm Springs that has housed the Coachella modern-music festival since 1999.

AEG/Goldenvoice promotes Coachella, the country-themed Stagecoach, and the Desert Trip festivals.

Calls to AEG/Goldenvoice about Desert Trip ticket counts were not immediately returned. But the release sent out today did not mention that any one-day $199 tickets for the second Desert Trip weekend would be on sale as they were for the first weekend. Only mentioned was three-day general admission passes ($399), VIP passes ($898), and other passes offering better accessibility priced up to $1599. Separate packages offering accommodations and food spreads by “world-class chefs” are also available.

The financial loss of the first Coachella in 1999 (with headliners Beck and Rage Against the Machine) nearly put independent promoters Goldenvoice out of business. But concert giant AEG stepped in and swallowed Goldenvoice, allowing Goldenvoice owner Paul Tollett the freedom and the financial backing allowing Coachella to thrive. Coachella’s sold-out success over the years eventually led AEG/Goldenvoice to stage identical, back-to-back Coachella festivals starting in 2012. A separate country-driven “Stagecoach” series was launched in 2007. Those weekend festivals are held in the spring before the oppressive summer heat of greater Palm Springs. This year the Desert Trip event featuring heritage rockers was assembled on the other side of summer, bringing the count up to five weekend festivals at the Coachella site.

Where will it end?

“It won’t stop until consumer demand dictates it,” says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of concert industry trade magazine Pollstar. He said there was widespread industry chatter that Goldenvoice would stage a second Coachella in the fall but that it would be focused on contemporary artists like the original spring version.

The fall Coachella came to pass but with a nostalgic, classic-rock bent.

“To their credit they decided to do something different,” Bongiovanni tells the Reader. “The world-wide reaction shows it is resonating with a big enough audience so that [Desert Trip] will be another sell out. The question is, who will they get for Desert Trip next year. There are only a handful of [heritage rockers] who can do such a large show. Will they be able to come up with a list of six headliners next year?”

Bongiovanni agrees that they had planned the second Desert Trip weekend long in advance.

“I guarantee they didn’t call up the Rolling Stones this morning and say, ‘Hey, tickets are going really well, wanna add a second night?’”

Harlan Schiffman of Fine Line Entertainment was in a parallel universe with Paul Tollett in the ’80s and ’90s.

Both were independent Southland promoters riding a new-music wave.

While Schiffman was bringing Nirvana, Bad Religion, Missing Persons, and Pearl Jam to Iguana’s in Tjiuana and various other San Diego venues, Tollett/Goldenvoice was hosting Black Flag, Motörhead, and the Circle Jerks at old theaters and VFW Halls in San Pedro, Long Beach, and Orange County and eventually at larger venues like the Palladium and the Shrine Auditorium.

“Goldenvoice was more into hardcore punk,” recalls Schiffman. “Paul took a lot of gambles back then. I guess you could say it paid off for him.”

For more information, visit deserttrip.com.

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For those not familiar with the area, Indio is about 24 miles from Palm Springs.

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