Power Trip Brings The Heat During Already-Busy ‘Rocktober’ Concert Season

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IF YOU WANT BLOOD: AC/DC’s Power Trip appearance was its first live gigs in seven years. (A Bonecutter / Power Trip)

Power Trip lived up to the hype — and heat — promised by the Goldenvoice-produced event, which demonstrated the power of not only rock ‘n’ roll but the artist themselves Oct. 6-8 at the Empire Polo Grounds in Southern California.

Fans packed the Polo Grounds, lining up in the desert heat in the early afternoon at the same site made famous by Goldenvoice’s flagship, two-weekend Coachella festival known for hosting hundreds of the hottest artists of the day.

As opposed to Coachella, Power Trip, however, was by design a specific occasion featuring only the highest royalty of rock music, with Friday night featuring Guns N’ Roses and Iron Maiden, Saturday AC/DC and Judas Priest (who replaced originally-billed Ozzy Osbourne), and capped off by Metallica and Tool on Sunday night.

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(A Bonecutter / Power Trip)

Fans who braved the 100-degree desert heat and long lines to enter were treated to a marathon three-hour Guns N’ Roses set, deep cuts from Maiden, Judas Priest taking it to a higher gear as one of the most influential bands in metal, the singular Metallica playing mostly classics and deep cuts, while Tool delivered the mesmerizing spectacle it has become synonymous for.

AC/DC was a particular treat, with Power Trip being the band’s first gigs since the 2015-2016 “Rock Or Bust” tour, one of the highest-grossing tours of the time and during which singer Brian Johnson was replaced by Axl Rose following a health scare. The band showed its age in appearance but delivered its trademark high energy set and some of rock music’s most iconic hits, such as “Thunderstruck,” “For Those About To Rock” and classic Bon Scott era tracks as well.

Although with a decidedly harder-edged style and fan base, Power Trip harkened back to the record-breaking Desert Trip of 2016 that featured classic rock legends at the same location and seasonal time frame. The event is the latest, and likely largest, of genre-specific festivals cropping up in recent years including the emo-heavenly “When We Were Young” in Las Vegas that was topped by My Chemical Romance in 2022, a similarly genre-specific event in a large outdoor setting with a high-profile headliner that fans had been clamoring to see in person.

Power Trip notably took place the same weekend as the four-day Danny Wimmer Presents-produced stalwart Aftershock festival in Sacramento, even sharing some artists (Tool, Guns N’ Roses).

While industry observers acknowledge that music festivals typically have radius clauses preventing an artist from performing at two major events the same weekend in a similar market, Power Trip and Aftershock may have demonstrated the power of major artists in not only booking leverage but drawing power – both events appeared absolutely packed.

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(Q Tucker / Power Trip)

“They’re different types of events,” one veteran music agent told Pollstar, noting Aftershock’s full slate of artists over four days including major draws playing secondary stages or afternoon slots. Both festivals also are viewed as destination events rather than local affairs, with fans traveling across the globe rather than state to attend and making travel plans far in advance. The two markets are also about 500 miles apart.

Metallica, meanwhile, played two sold-out stadium shows at SoFi Stadium in late August as part of its “M72 World Tour,” much closer to the Indio market. Guns N’ Roses this morning announced two nights at the Hollywood Bowl in early November, somehow the Los Angeles staple’s first time playing the historic venue.

“It’s also a once-in-a-lifetime event,” the agent said of Power Trip, whereas annual festivals become a yearly tradition for hardened festival-goers who become loyal to a particular event rather than a particular artist.

Whether Power Trip continues as a brand or remains logged in history as a one-time occasion remains to be seen, although many are hopeful of a full AC/DC tour being announced for 2024.

Regardless, the weekend surely compounded what had already been known as the month of “Rocktober” to many within the industry.