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The Desert Trip Experience

Seats were padded, the wine expensive and a decidedly boomer crowd was out for fun

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    Scenes From a Festival

    California’s Coachella Valley on the first weekend (Oct. 7-9) of the Desert Trip music festival. Clockwise from top left: Teresa Stegman of San Diego; Portia Weiss of Newport Beach; a chair collage in the art tent; the palm-tree-speckled horizon at sundown; vintage suitcases; Jacob Bastomski of Santa Barbara.

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    Moon Shadow

    Purple haze filled the event site, its familiar weedy scent not the only throwback to Woodstock. Old hippies mingled with 20-somethings, and 75,000 fans awaited the appearance on separate nights of a legendary lineup — Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, the Who and Roger Waters — that did not disappoint.

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    You’ve Got to Have Friends

    Fans endured 95-degree heat but lined up early for entry to the festival grounds. Among them were Oregonians Mark Portman (left) and his wife, Jan Simmons (right), and their longtime friend Maggie Sichel-Pinatelli of California, who say they have seen hundreds of concerts together.

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    Portraits in a Crowd

    Clockwise from top left: Sheldon Donig, 70, of San Anselmo, Calif.; Lotte Wacker, 56, of Copenhagen, Denmark, near her rented RV; Robert Hadeler, 69, and his wife of 47 years, Sarah Hadeler, 68, awaiting a second night of music; Carl Fox, 60, and his wife, Sonya Fox, 59, of Pioneertown, Calif., ready for the third night; Jerry Quinn, of Palm Desert, Calif., with her dog Willow.

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    Pinball Wizard

    An arcade with 40 different machines was just one of the activities amusing the thousands of fans who arrived long before the live concerts at night. Among the others: an arts and crafts tent, a vinyl record store, a vintage market, a craft beer garden and plenty of upscale food.

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    Desert Sun

    Wandering the grounds before the concert started each day, the huge crowd was so mellow that security guards reported they were bored. Merchants were not. Fans mobbed their booths, gobbling up $40 T-shirts and recordings of the six acts, a dream team of 1960s rock idols.

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    Safety First

    Alpha & Omega Mounted Patrol, a private security group, helped with public safety throughout the weekend. Trooper Mike Norris, 54, called the crowd “mellow, chilled out.”

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    Beyond the Lighted Stage

    The football field-sized stage fronted a gargantuan screen, a backdrop for special effects ranging from the Who’s fireworks to former Pink Floyd singer-songwriter-bassist Roger Waters’ punk-industrial psychedelic illusions. Bob Dylan wailed a few favorites before Mick Jagger strutted the catwalk, inches away from fans who spent more than $1,000 to stand in the mosh pit for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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    Amusement Park

    Californians Shana Lakso, Kristi Jenses and brothers Russell Birchell and Thomas Quaid Birchell played a game of cornhole in the RV camping area on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club, where the festival is staged.

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    The Night Is Young

    Ty and Nile Yolac of Fairhaven, N.J., take it all in on the second night, when Paul McCartney and Neil Young played long sets of crowd favorites and three songs together, including “Give Peace a Chance.”

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    Diversionary Tactics

    Letîcia Canole (in red) kicks the ball as Jenny Tran (center) takes cover in a game of human foosball, one of the many diversions to keep fans at the camping center busy until showtime.

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    Patient Fandom

    Terrell Adkins, 66, of Desert Hot Springs, Calif., awaits Neil Young’s performance. Young was joined by his current band, Promise of the Real.

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    Thrill Seeker

    Postal worker Steve Fish, of Wyoming, R.I., calls himself a “rock ’n’ roll animal. It’s very thrilling to be here.”

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    Fan for the Finale

    Jem Rodriguez, 57, of Granary, Texas, in the general admission lawn seating area, happily awaits the final night of Desert Trip’s first weekend. The Who and Roger Waters pulled from their classic catalogs with tunes such as “I Can See for Miles” and “Speak to Me.”

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    Baby, Baby

    It’s never too early to see the Who, but maybe it is to hear them. A very young concert attendee wears protective ear gear as the last night of the festival rocks on.

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    Satisfaction

    The festival grounds after three nights of dream team performances. The second weekend takes place Oct. 14-16. Its success will likely usher in a new era of big-bucks weekend festivals geared more to boomers. Desert tripper Peggy Killian is ready: “Rumor is that next fall, they’ll have Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and the Eagles,” she said. “Whoever they pick, we’ll be back.”

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