A dream lineup of aging rock gods might change the way we look at older people in this country.
You’ve probably heard of Coachella, the super-successful multi-weekend music festival held each year in the Coachella Valley (the Palm Springs area). It was so successful the promoter, Goldenvoice, invented a second festival, Stagecoach, for country music fans. And that was so successful, they cooked up a third festival, geared toward the Baby Boomer demographic.
Called Desert Trip, but swiftly labeled Oldchella, tickets sold out in two hours. Goldenvoice had to add a second weekend. Same result. And the tickets weren’t cheap.
At this concert, the amenities are impressive: actual chairs to sit in. Five-star dining. Good wines. Fancy bathrooms.
In spite of the fact that they’re paying top dollar to the bands, the promoters are making money hand over fist.
As I write this, the inaugural weekend of Desert Trip just ended and the second starts today. Here’s one big difference already between it and the younger concerts: one-fifth the number of arrests and citations for the usual bad behavior (public intoxication, drug use, illegal parking, etc.) At Oldchella, the festival-goers are so tame, the cops are probably sitting on the hoods of their cars, enjoying the music.
One thing you might take away from the success of this event is that we should rethink how we advertise to older people. There’s more to us than wearing diapers, consuming prescription meds by the handful, and needing help to get up—although those things might also be true, just as they are of other age groups.
Advertisers should raise their sights. There’s money to be made here, Corporate America, if you set aside your ageist prejudices.
As to the calmer behavior, I love youthful hijinks as much as the next grandmother, but I’ll bet the people who run the city of Indio are happy to have the Geritol set sitting quietly in their molded-plastic chairs, nodding enthusiastically along with the music.
My point is, every age has its goods and bads. How about we celebrate youth for what it is, and older age for what it is, (and all the ages in between like those hardworking parents with dependent kids), and not make it a zero sum game anymore. What do you think? Could we do this?
Programming note: I was approached by journalist Holly Whitman to write for AnyShinyThing. Holly is a millennial who lives in D.C. After checking out her writing, I thought it might be fun to ask her to weigh in on certain topics from her youthful perspective. You should be seeing a post from her in the near future. I can’t wait!