Erickson: The cons of going to classic rock festival Desert Trip

Alec Erickson

(Photo courtesy Desert Trip)

A once-in-a-lifetime three day music festival filled with some of the biggest names in Rock N’ Roll history sounds like a pretty great time until you really start looking into it.

For the average college kid who grew up on this kind of music, like myself, the cost of the show can be intimidating and may force you to go elsewhere. Having a couple thousand dollars to spend is not exactly an option, especially for Desert Trip.


Festivals like this are by no means cheap. When three day passes for either weekend of Desert Trip first went on sale, they cost at least cost $600. This far out from October, prices are rising each day with no sign of slowing down, and  reports are coming out that the average cost for passes for the first weekend are now at around $3000.

There are also all the additional costs to consider, like camping passes, seating, food and drink and, of course, travel cost. Going to this festival quickly turns into a costly endeavor – which is why it is estimated to bring in a whopping total of $150 million.

Other festivals like Coachella, which broke the record for highest gross of any festival, cost hundreds less for just general admissions. Even for those prices, Coachella has a lot more acts. 

It is not that I don’t like any of the lineup, it is great, it is that I don’t like how small the lineup is, and how for some this is the only time you can catch them. For a three-night music festival, you would expect to get a little more than just six acts, especially considering the price. With the exception of Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney, you can only catch the rest of these acts at Desert Trip this year.

This is extremely disheartening for any fan of the biggest rock legends. It begs the question though, why not get some smaller acts to open up for these guys? You have hundreds of people spending the entire three days in California, and the shows only begin at sundown. Why not have some smaller bands perform during the day? Why not provide some more entertainment? Each act has a discography to perform for hours. It is easy to see how they will go late into the night, but what about the rest of the day? It is just something that hasn’t made much sense to me for a music festival.

A lot of people did not really stand a chance of getting a ticket to this event, considering tickets sold out in just three hours.

Desert Trip might be this huge once in a lifetime deal, but for what it costs, it is not worth watching some aging rock stars perform way past their prime. As much as I hate to admit it, I would rather skip this show as a last ditch effort to preserve the memory of what these rock legends mean to me.

As fun as it is spending an entire weekend in a desert with people my own age like at Coachella, you have to realize that most people going to Desert Trip will be considerably older than your average age college student. It would be like spending the weekend with the grandparents.

Collegian Music Critic Alec Erickson can be reached at or on Twitter @CTV_ACE.