Hannah Nizinski skipped class trying to buy tickets to see the classic rock heroes of her childhood.
This weekend, the second-year business economics student will attend the rock music festival Desert Trip with her father, who she said first introduced her to the genre.
The Coachella-esque festival takes place in Indio, California, over two weeks, with Weekend 2 beginning Friday and ending Sunday. But unlike the indie music vibe of its springtime counterpart Coachella, the one-time music festival Desert Trip emphasizes rock music with performances from the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, The Who, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Roger Waters.
Three-day passes sold for $399 when the tickets went on sale. Despite the high price, some Bruins took advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the biggest names in rock.
Nizinski’s bedroom walls display The Beatles’ records and tin signs with “Abbey Road” written on them. Wall paintings of song lyrics and books about The Beatles on her bookshelves keep the room to her chosen theme.
As a result of her childhood passion for the 1960s rock band, Nizinski is most excited to see McCartney play the Beatles’ songs like “A Day in the Life.”
“It will be a whole other experience because I’ll really love the artists and really feel connected to (the music),” she said.
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Tyler Galdes also inherited his love of rock music from his dad because the music was the only thing in his home computer’s iTunes library when he was growing up.
The fourth-year computer science student bought tickets the day they went on sale in May and is most excited for the Rolling Stones. He travelled with six friends to the Empire Polo Club to car-camp for Weekend 1 starting Oct. 7.
The Rolling Stones’ four started with their new, bluesier songs and ended with the hits, Galdes said. Visual graphics accompanied “Sympathy for the Devil” and Galdes enjoyed his favorite “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in the encore.
However, Galdes preferred Waters’ performance to any other artist that weekend.
Waters used more technology than the other artists and experimented with the directionality of sound, Galdes said. Audio recordings exemplified the latter when sounds of a helicopter propellor filled the desert grounds. The crowd turned around to look for the helicopters, expecting a machine to swoop in from behind and land, but it was just the sound playing through the speakers.
“He really didn’t just play his music but turned it into a whole performance,” Galdes said.
An Opportunity Arises
Though Lashon Halley won’t see the artists live, she found her own way to make the most of Desert Trip’s popularity among the older generation.
A friend of the UCLA alumna invited her to sing in a five-piece band for a private pre-party for Desert Trip during Weekend 1. Two men who frequently go to festivals in Indio hosted the event for 100 guests at a mansion in Rancho Mirage, California. Halley sang everything from “Paint it, Black” by the Rolling Stones to “Cinnamon Girl” by Neil Young to pump up the audience members while they got ready for the main event at the Empire Polo Club.
Halley had to learn 25 songs in four days. Though she knew the tunes of some, she had to memorize the lyrics on short notice for her $500 paycheck.
“It was (difficult) because the lyrics in old school rock songs don’t really make that much sense or flow because they’re kind of like stream of consciousness,” Halley said.
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The band had just two rehearsals the week before the gig. Friday through Sunday around 3 p.m. the group performed on a stage in the mansion’s grassy backyard. The heat confined most guests inside the Roman house decorated with painted ceilings and statues, but thanks to amplifiers and speakers, the band’s covers of songs like the Beatles’ “Let It Be” wafted inside.
Guests – mainly in their 50s and – wore either band T-shirts or formal, designer attire. The bandmates each dressed to fit a different persona, Halley said. The drummer wore high-waisted pants, a blouse and a cowboy hat. Halley chose to be a hippie girl complete with white face paint, gold jewelry, flair jeans and high heels to fit in with a music festival vibe.
“It was just like basically like wear the weirdest stuff you have because it’s gonna get weird,” Halley said. “I’m just like, ‘This is so dope.’ Everyone was really nice and I made a lot of connections and networked.”
The Unmissable Experience
Galdes also noticed Desert Trip’s older crowd.
The concert audience was mostly comprised of wealthier people aged 40 to 50, who have likely been fans of the artists since they were growing up, he said. Galdes doesn’t know of many UCLA students who attended.
Nizinski didn’t know of any other UCLA students going to the festival, either. However, she said she was more excited to go with her father than with younger friends.
“I honestly wouldn’t want to experience it with anyone else,” Nizinski said.
Galdes found the expensive tickets well worth the experience of hearing the classic melodies. And though he had no midterms this week, Galdes disregarded any work that may have stood in his way.
“It’s irrelevant in my mind – this was a far bigger priority than any midterms I would have had,” Galdes said. “This was more important because it’s not going to happen again.”