Desert Trip: The music’s great, but slow down, Dad

Of all the things Desert Trip has to teach the kids — the wisdom of the deep Dylan catalog, the joy of Mick Jagger’s catwalk, the pleasures of rolling out a blanket on a windless night of the Polo Grounds and hearing the best music from rock’s best era — there’s one thing the EDM kids in the Sahara Tent can teach in kind: how to party safely at something like this.

The opening night of Desert Trip’s second weekend was even better than I’d imagined — the recent Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan generously indulging fans with “Like A Rolling Stone” and other pop hits; Ron Wood ripping out ageless, invigorating guitar solos, testaments to the merits of a perfect riff. The built environment was unlike anything I’d seen in two decades of festival attendance — sprawling but accessible, vibey but logistically perfect. I’ll go ahead and dare to say that it out-classes Coachella as a total experience for regal rock ‘n’ roll like this.

Everyone from the security guards at the front gate to the most eager Dylanologist was kind, patient and beyond happy to be there. There was no bad seat in the house, and you could still get close enough to see Mick Jagger’s tendons flex. 

But first, for the kids of of all the Desert Trip families here: Let’s take all our parents aside and have a serious talk about drinking water and pacing their day drinking.


From my little corner by the front of the stage, over just the 45 minutes or so for the Stones’ changeover, I saw no fewer than six 40-something or older fans being carted out and over the railing after falling over from exhaustion. One 60-ish man, leaning on strangers in a damp tie-dyed T-shirt, had clearly gotten overstimulated by the prospect of “Start Me Up,” and looked like his body was instead winding down before the Stones even got onstage. 

Be it heat exhaustion, overindulgence or simply anyone standing outside that long: it was clear that for all the stern warnings about young fans and drugs, we’re going to need a commensurate conversation with older fans about staying healthy at modern music festivals. 

Desert Trip’s staff was prompt, kind and extremely proficient in getting people to safety. Everyone felt well-watched over and any problems were promptly addressed. This is the first time a fest like this has been attempted, and it’s going to get easier once fans know what to expect. 

Mom and Dad, we get it. It’s easy to get riled up in an environment like this, with all the loud confusing music, crazy onstage fashions and peer pressure to keep going. Beer and weed are stronger than they were in the ’70s, and it’s easy to slip up if you don’t know what your body can handle.


So it’s time for a refresher course. Responsible festival-going starts with some basic best practices. Go one-for-one with water and drinks. Sit down for a bit in the shade. Listen to your body and don’t exert yourself past the breaking point.

Maybe your Coachella-fan kids can show you the ropes? 

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