Monday, October 17, 2016

How Desert Trip Made History

From Forbes Magazine

(Editor's Note: was denied press credentials to cover Desert Trip. However, you can read reviews of recent shows we covered by The Who & Neil Young)

By now, music fans around the globe are familiar with the story behind how the massive Desert Trip festival came to be. Goldenvoice President Paul Tollett had a vision to bring together six of the biggest acts in the history of rock for a once (or as it turned out twice) in a lifetime musical event.

So Tollett began traveling around meeting with all of the artists – the Rolling Stones, the Who, Roger Waters, Paul McCartney and Neil Young; it was reported Tollett didn’t personally meet with Bob Dylan – to recruit them to fulfill his wildly ambitious dream.

On the final night of weekend two, bringing to a close six nights of music history, even Who guitarist Pete Townshend commented from the stage that it could have been a “good idea or a crazy idea.”

One thing for sure is it was a lucrative idea. In a July interview with the New York Times Tollett said Desert Trip had already grossed a staggering $160 million. And that figure surely will rise. Tollett also described Desert Trip as more of a concert than a festival in that same interview, but neither is truly accurate.

Tollett and his crew created a utopian paradise for music fans of all ages where money became no object. The $75 large concert posters and several other merchandise items were sold out; the $180 culinary experience sold out, most of the craft cocktails in the custom-built Cabin were out by 5:30, 45 minutes before the show began. Fans could be seen leaving the merchandise stands with three or four of the $40 shirts or multiple of the $70 hoodie sweatshirts.

Why was money no object? Two reasons: the first being if you were there you had already decided the history of the event was worth the money and the second being Tollett and his crew brilliantly created a functioning world that was about so much more than the music.

Of course, the six acts brought people in, but by the time the first band took the stage every night between 6:00 and 6:30 tens of thousands of fans had already experienced a great day of food, drink, the photography exhibit with lines out the door every day, the Ferris wheel and more.

Desert Trip was so well constructed, from the state of the art sound and visuals to the seating design, which did make it feel comfortably like a concert, to the surroundings, that it was already such a unique experience the musical acts were the cherry on the sundae.