No Desert Trip this year; Goldenvoice’s Paul Tollett says it doesn’t need to ‘turn into another franchise festival’

Paul McCartney takes the stage during the second weekend of last year's Desert Trip in Indio.
Paul McCartney takes the stage during the second weekend of last year’s Desert Trip in Indio.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Forget fantasies of a Led Zeppelin reunion or any other dream classic rock scenario as a 2017 follow-up to last year’s Desert Trip rock superstar blowout in Indio.

Paul Tollett, head of promoter Goldenvoice who dreamed up the mega-show that brought Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, the Who, Neil Young and Roger Waters together on one stage over back-to-back weekends last October, has confirmed that there will be no immediate successor to that show this year.

Tollett said he made the decision Thursday after ruminating for months over whether to attempt a second installment. October’s shows grossed $160 million from six nights, making it instantly the highest-grossing music festival in history.

“I kind of like the idea of keeping it unique,” Tollett said. “I don’t think it instantly needs to turn into another franchise festival.”


A confluence of factors led to the decision not to go forward this year, although he said, “we might try something similar in the future.”

“I really burned the staff out last year,” he said, with the addition of the dual-weekend Desert Trip shows after the annual triple back-to-backs of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts and Stagecoach Country Music festivals that Goldenvoice promotes each April at the same Empire Polo Club site.

Additionally, this year his crew was charged with expanding the site physically to accommodate an increased capacity for Coachella, which was bumped up from 99,000 per day in 2016 to 125,000 daily capacity. The cap on Stagecoach attendance held steady at 75,000 per day, the same figure used for Desert Trip’s shows.

“They were just fried at the end of the year,” he said.


This year Goldenvoice also is adding an event, the Arroyo Seco Weekend slated for June 24 and 25 on the grounds near the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. That two-day show will feature Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Mumford & Sons, Alabama Shakes, Weezer, the Shins and more than a dozen other mainstream rock, indie and Americana acts.

Yet another factor was the emergence of music mogul Irving Azoff’s new Classic West/Classic East shows featuring the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, the Doobie Brothers, Journey and Earth, Wind & Fire, all of which are clients of Azoff’s firm. Those shows will take place July 15 and 16 at Dodger Stadium in L.A. and July 29 and 30 at Citi Field in Queens, N.Y.

Several of those artists were among names often floated by fans and music industry veterans speculating on who might populate a more ‘70s-slanted Desert Trip 2017 lineup if one were to take place.

Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant added fuel to rumors of a Zeppelin reunion when the home page of his official website went black except for the words “Any time now...,” which some jumped on as indication of a band reunion.


More likely it is a teaser for a new Plant solo album and/or tour. Whether that continues his collaboration with his Sensational Space Shifters band of recent years or takes him in a new direction remains to be seen.

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