The Desert-Music Magic Maker
Paul Tollett is the visionary behind not just one, but multiple music festivals in the middle of California’s Colorado desert: There’s Coachella, of course, but also Stagecoach for country music fans, Desert Trip — aka “Oldchella” — for classic rockers, and making its debut this year, Power Trip for metalheads. Today, more than two decades after Coachella made its debut, it would be difficult to imagine a world in which music-lovers did not flock to Indio. And it would be easy for the festival co-founder and Goldenvoice chief executive to take a backseat. But the man who assembled the original list of 70+ artists with longtime associate Rick Van Santen is just as involved today — curating the lineup of rock, pop, hip-hop and EDM artists, yes, but also booking acts, negotiating offers, determining placement on the all-important poster. It’s not just the music that’s cutting-edge either; as the festival has evolved into a cultural phenomenon, Paul has upped the game in every way, from food and NFT offerings to anti-harassment and sustainability initiatives.
Coachella 2023, the 22nd iteration of the festival, keeps upping the game — headlined by Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny, South Korean girl group Blackpink, American singer Frank Ocean, and American pop-punk band Blink-182. Stagecoach took place just days after Coachella and the rowdy country music hoedown featured headliners Luke Bryan, Kane Brown and Chris Stapleton. However, a huge contingent of the boots and cowboy hat-wearing attendees are also there to party at Diplo’s Honky Tonk, a rave-like environment with Coachella-level stage production. Paul’s newest project launched October 2023: Power Trip. Billed as the largest hard rock festival in North America, the three-day festival had a heavy metal meets “Oldchella” vibe, with headliners including Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, and Guns N’ Roses.