Desert Trip 2016 - the trip and festival of a lifetime
I wrote this in October 2019 on a Facebook post in a group of fellow music fans who had made the trip to Indio for those magical three nights....
This night 3 years ago I checked into the Bellagio in Las Vegas and skipped over to the Cosmopolitan to see Bob Dylan the night it was announced that he had won the Nobel Prize for literature.
I had just spent 5 days in LA with two friends of mine who are in the music industry after travelling with them from London UK. Before our trip they had suggested I stay in Pappy and Harriet’s in the desert the night before the ‘Trip. I had it all booked but cancelled when I realised that Dylan was playing Vegas the night before. I bought second row tickets for The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan.
On the 12th October we spent some time eating pizza and drinking (lots) in what was supposedly the Guns N Roses booth at the Rainbow on Sunset. I stepped outside for a smoke and took photos of all the famous venues, The Whiskey a Go Go, The Roxy before saying goodbye to my friends and stumbling back to my nearby hotel.
When I wake in the morning I have lots of text messages, some from my dad telling me that Dylan has won the Nobel Prize and some from my mates telling me that it has been announced that Paul McCartney is going to play a tiny show at Pappy and Harriet’s that night. I knew where I wanted to be. I flew to Vegas.
I'm in the second row, Dylan says nothing, plays an amazing set, picks up the guitar for Simple Twist of Fate which astounds me, and finishes with Why Try to Change Me Now, which makes me smile, why try to change you now Bob? You are only a Nobel Prize for Literature winner... I’m sat beside a lady in her sixties who has never seen him and has saved up to come here, who offers me some substance from a little bag that I politely refuse and the other side a couple who stand the whole way through and piss off everyone in the rows behind. I try not to let it hinder my enjoyment of an amazing performance. I recognise the lady in front of me in the front row as the lady who was being fawned over in the bar earlier who wanted to make sure they REALLy knew how to make a proper Old Fashioned. She was escorted to her seat so felt like she must have been a ‘high roller’, she politely clapped Bob, I’m not sure she quite got it. She has stuck in my head when I think of my 24 hours in Vegas.
Early night in Vegas, I didn’t even put a quarter in a slot machine, took a can of beer from the gift shop to bed, I was concerned about driving on the other side of the road the next day for the first time. Picked up the car to drive to the Coachella Valley for Desert Trip, drive out of the airport car park and directly into 3 lanes of oncoming traffic!! Beeps and consternation and I pull into a parking lot and try to stop shaking and catch my breath. Thinking I can’t do this, let’s go back to the airport, catch a flight but I know it’s too late, I have to get on the road to get to my Air BnB and see Bob again at 6.30pm at Empire Polo Club. I drive for 4.30mins stopping only once on Route 66 where I pick up a Coke and a Snickers at ‘Roy’s Motel’ taking a snap of the old Americana sign. (I later see that Bob has painted this sign on his ‘Beaten Path’ art series and HAVE to buy a print).
Bob ROCKS at weekend 2 night one, and deigns to have big screens for those of us in the cheap seats (Gen admin) and amazingly finishes with Like a Rolling Stone, which I hadn’t heard him play for years... The actual Rolling Stones followed and Mick acknowledges the privilege of sharing the stage with the Nobel Laureate, and delivered the polished, rocks off, Stones set I expected. But Bob. I’ve seen you over 30 times, it’s always new, it’s always transcendent, it’s my happy place... The rest of the weekend was amazing, Neil! The Moon! Goosebumps. Paul and Hey Jude and Blackbird and The Who and Roger and the pig and much more. But Bob twice in two days, Nobel, Vegas, Mojave Desert and Route 66 Drive with my playlist and Like a Rolling Stone...
Desert Trip, Trip of a lifetime, I will never forget it.