Desert Trip



This past weekend was the first weekend of Desert Trip, a music festival at the Empire Polo Club in Indio CA. Three nights of classic rock ‘n roll with Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones opening the event on Friday night; Neil Young & the Promise of the Real and Paul McCartney on Saturday night and closing the weekend Sunday night was The Who and Roger Waters.

This was my primary reason to migrate to So CA from Minneapolis three weeks ago.  Through my media connections in Minnesota, I was referred to a media company out of New York, who then applied for a media pass for me for the event. I was denied clearance, but still had a ticket for the event.

I learned from this experience that I need to get a camera that is between my cellphone and my Nikon D-90s. There were a ton of people with various cameras and I stuck up conversation with a few regarding what they were shooting and why. Interesting to hear there perspectives. And this is what I love so about photography…alot of folks experiencing the craft.

Although it would have been an incredible opportunity to photograph the event, it was a great opportunity for me to just go and groove on the music and not have the responsibility of my gear between acts.

I opted for shuttle service to and from the event each night and parked my car at a hotel and rode a bus into the event. There was an issue with traffic on the first night and all these buses were at a standstill 45 minutes from showtime, so I joined other defectors that exited the bus and walked the two miles or so into the polo grounds.

I milled about the grounds as Bob Dylan began to play. I certainly appreciate his lyricism, but for me listening to him live, his music and voice can drone on and all sound so repetitious.

The Setlist

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
Highway 61 Revisited
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
High Water (For Charley Patton)
Simple Twist of Fate
Early Roman Kings
Love Sick
Tangled Up in Blue
Lonesome Day Blues
Make You Feel My Love
Pay in Blood
Desolation Row
Soon After Midnight
Ballad of a Thin Man

Masters of War

Dylan’s set ended and it was a hour or so before Stones took the stage, I continued to wander the grounds. I sampled  slice of Narley Marley pizza, which was “veggies and herb, mon.”

Lights dimmed and The Rolling Stones opened with “Start Me Up” then followed with “You Got Me Rockin'” then played 18 more songs with two rare musical moments. The first being when, for first time live, the they covered the Beatles “Come Together” and then Richards singing on two songs, “Slipping Away” and “Little T&A”  The night came to a close after the two encores of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”

I let the music take me and just danced and sang along, at times I was just awe struck as the music played live in front of me.

The Setlist:

Start Me Up
You Got Me Rocking
Out of Control
Ride ‘Em on Down
(Jimmy Reed cover) (first since 12 July 1962)
Mixed Emotions
Wild Horses
It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)                                                                                                                      Come Together                                                                                                                                                    Tumbling Dice                                                                                                                                                           Honky Tonk Women                                                                                                                                             Slipping Away                                                                                                                                                              Little T&A
Midnight Rambler
Miss You
Gimme Shelter
Sympathy for the Devil
Brown Sugar
Jumpin’ Jack Flash

You Can’t Always Get What You Want                                                                                                                         (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction


I left the venue grounds and boarded the shuttle back into the Palm Springs area. I got home around 2am, but was on an endorphin high after what I had just been witness to and didn’t feel the least bit tired. I  finally fell into bed around five a.m. and thought to myself “There are two more days of this!!”


Day Two

I woke up around 1pm, had a couple of mugs of bullet-proof coffee and some food and then headed back out to the venue around 4pm. It was the same routine again as I milled about, but I returned to the musical vantage point I discovered the night before.

A couple of women in straw hats and bib overalls began to walk about the stage, acting as if they were planting seeds. This went on for about five minutes and then a spot light went up over the piano and there sat Neil with his harmonica around his neck and opened with “After the Gold Rush”

At one point between songs, three guys in hazmat suits walked across the stage, spraying the stage with a high pressured mist, mimicking Monsanto herbicide application. A 22 minute  version of “Down by the River” the final of ” Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World” were highlights for me.

The Setlist:

After the Gold Rush
Heart of Gold
Comes a Time
Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)
Out on the Weekend
Human Highway
Show Me
Harvest Moon
Words (Between the Lines of Age)
Walk On
Texas Rangers
Down by the River
Seed Justice
Peace Trail
Welfare Mothers
Rockin’ in the Free World

Once Neil was done playing I went and got something to eat and opted for blue cheese, spicy bacon sliders. Quite tasty!

The monitors began to play a multi-media montage of Beatles, Wings and some of Paul’s solo work combining music, video and still imagery.

Paul opened with “A Hard Day’s Night” and moved through a 37 song set that at one point had Neil Young on stage to accompany him for three songs: “A Day in the Life” “Give Peace a Chance” and ” Why Don’t We DoI t in the Road”  I joined the thousands raising both hands firmly flexed into peace symbols swaying lift to right singing along  “….all we are saying, is give peace a chance…”The thing about seeing Paul live, for me are two things: The way he shares a his stories that are a part of history that few can speak about from a personal experience and, just how much fun it is to sing along song after song.

The Setlist:

A Hard Day’s Night
Can’t Buy Me Love
Letting Go
Day Tripper
Let Me Roll It
I’ve Got a Feeling
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
Maybe I’m Amazed
We Can Work It Out
In Spite of All the Danger
(The Quarrymen song)
I’ve Just Seen a Face
Love Me Do
And I Love Her
Here Today
Queenie Eye
Lady Madonna
Eleanor Rigby
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
A Day in the Life
Give Peace a Chance
Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude

I Wanna Be Your Man
Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End

Spent and exhausted, I ambled to the shuttle and made my way home. I went to bed around 3am and fell quickly to sleep.

Day Three

Falling into somewhat of a routine, it was the same scenario again. I slept until early afternoon, then made a batch of bullet-proof coffee, ate some food and headed over to the polo grounds for the final night of Desert Trip. In all honesty, although I certainly enjoyed the four bands I had already witnessed, for me, this night was what it was all about: The Who.

They opened with “I Can’t Explain” after which Pete Townsend told the crowd “Well, Here the fuck we are”

The Setlist

I Can’t Explain
The Seeker
Who Are You
The Kids Are Alright
I Can See for Miles
My Generation
Behind Blue Eyes
Join Together
You Better You Bet
I’m One
The Rock
Love, Reign O’er Me
Eminence Front
Amazing Journey
The Acid Queen
Pinball Wizard
See Me, Feel Me
Baba O’Riley
Won’t Get Fooled Again

What I  liked most of all about The Who is there weren’t any encores, they just ripped through a 22 song set, pausing only for little sound bites to the crowd and band member introductions.

Food I enjoyed this evening was a tri-tip Sandwich before The Who and a plate of paella ar intermission of Roger Waters set.

Black lights illuminated the venue and then Roger Waters took the stage and played a 2.5 hour, 28 song set. Although there were political messages and blurbs from some of the performers throughout the three day event, Roger put it out there with “Trump is a Pig” illuminated across the three large screens behind the stage, along with other anti-Trump then floating an inflatable pig  over the crowd with a image of Trump wearing lipstick and eyeshadow and ” Fuck Trump and his Wall” on one side  and “Ignorant, lying, racist, sexist pig.” on the other during “Pigs  (Three Different Ones)

Speak to Me
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
One of These Days
Breathe (Reprise)
The Great Gig in the Sky
Us and Them
You’ll Never Walk Alone
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)
Welcome to the Machine
Have a Cigar
Wish You Were Here


Pigs on the Wing 1
Pigs on the Wing 2
Pigs (Three Different Ones)
The Happiest Days of Our Lives
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2
Run Like Hell
Brain Damage
Why Cannot the Good Prevail
(a poem by Roger Waters)
Bring the Boys Back Home
Comfortably Numb

Of course, as the Wholigan I am, the highlight of the weekend was The Who’s set. Followed by The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Neil Young and Roger Waters.

What an incredible opportunity to be one of 80,000 people to be present at the inaugural Desert Trip. Although I didn’t have a camera in hand, I was able to capture some imagery, however wanky. Still, my being there was to go and enjoy the music…and enjoy the music I did!!!



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