LOS ANGELES – It could be Woodstock 47 years later, only the drug of choice might be antacid – a weekend concert event featuring some of the greatest musical acts of the 1960s.
Confirming weeks of rumors, Goldenvoice Entertainment announced Tuesday it is bringing together the top performers – really just from the 1960s – for a three-day blowout in California’s Coachella Desert.
Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Paul McCartney, Neil Young and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, all on stage at the Empire Polo Club in Indio during an October weekend.
It’s every Baby Boomer’s fantasy. Except it’s real.
“I think everybody has a sense that this is going to be something historic, and I really don’t think that’s overblowing it to say that,” said Chris Sampson, founding director of the popular music program at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.
Dubbed the Desert Trip, the three nights of music Oct. 7-9 will begin on a Friday with performances by Dylan and the Rolling Stones. They will be followed the next night by McCartney and Young, with Waters and The Who closing out the weekend on Sunday.
Each act will perform full, separate sets with the shows beginning at sunset.
It should be noted that the average age of the four core members of the Rolling Stones is 72. Dylan will be 75 by show time, McCartney is 73, Waters 72 and the event’s youngest headliner (named, appropriately enough, Young) is 70.
That’s led some, like Youth International co-founder Paul Krassner, who is 84 himself and watched The Who play at 1969’s Woodstock Music and Art Fair (where people were warned not to take the “brown acid”) to quip that this event should be called Geezerfest.
“I would love to be there except I now need a walker to get from one room to another,” he said Tuesday.
Still, Sampson expects every act to deliver. As he notes, anyone who has seen Dylan or the Stones or any of the others knows, they pretty much still do. Every night. And on these nights their legacy will be on the line.
So why are they doing this anyway? Besides, of course, for the obvious reason: Money.
“I would imagine that this is going to be very lucrative for everybody,” Sampson said, laughing. “But I’m also thinking they’re motivated, at least in part, by being part of something special.”
The next question is who will go to this.
It might draw comparisons to Woodstock, but it’s unlikely any Baby Boomers will be sleeping in the mud this time, even if it does rain. And they'll be no need for any 401 (k) flush boomers to hitchhike for miles.
For a bit more than $5,000, people can purchase a three-night stay at a high-end hotel, passes to the shows, shuttle service to and from the venue, meals and other perks. There is reserve seating and bleacher seating for anyone whose days of standing up or dancing nonstop at a concert are over.
For those who want to camp, there are tents.
For those who just want to see the show, one-day passes are $199, with three-day passes costing $399. They go on sale Monday.
Although Sampson expects a good deal of the audience to skew older, he adds people shouldn’t be surprised to see young people there.
Although the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is packed each year with younger indie bands, legacy acts like McCartney, AC/DC and Steely Dan have fared well there in recent years.
What’s more, Sampson, who teaches music classes to people in their 20s, says Baby Boomers would be surprised at how much admiration Millennials have for songwriters like Dylan, McCartney, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the others.
“People in their early 20s, they find it a really amazing experience,” he said of hearing that music for the first time. Some, he said, react the same way they do when they hear Mozart for the first time.
“They have a reverence for it. It’s new music to them in a lot of ways.”