For the past week or so, a lot of rock fans — those of a certain age, especially — have been talking about Desert Trip, the three-day extravaganza from the producers of Coachella that come October will bring together pretty much all the remaining classic-rock royalty spry enough to still strap on a guitar: The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan (Friday, October 7); Paul McCartney and Neil Young (Saturday, October 8); and Roger Waters and The Who (Sunday, October 9). Dubbed "MegaFest" (or "Old-Chella," per Mick Jagger), this once-in-a-lifetime weekend — actually two, after an encore weekend of October 15-17 was added almost immediately after tickets went on sale Monday — couldn't help but feverishly give rise to a host of other hypothetical blowouts we'd like to see...some of which might be cooler than the real one.
Madonna/Janet Jackson; Britney Spears/Mariah Carey; Beyoncé/Taylor Swift
Desert Trip has pretty much the exact lineup it needs, given that it probably doesn't have the money to get Page/Plant back together at the moment. It's a great lineup, but it's also a very male, very white lineup. So let's go the opposite direction and have a celebration of the biggest non-dude names in music, women who arguably have the most passionate fanbases in music. I broke down the days by era, because that seemed most natural, and because let's be real: Beyoncé doesn't open for anyone these days. CORY GARCIA
EAST COAST-WEST COAST FEST
Kendrick Lamar/Beastie Boys; Ice Cube/Nas; Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg/Jay Z
The rules are simple: Each day features one rapper apiece from the East Coast and West Coast. Sadly, the two stalwarts of their respective coasts (2Pac and Biggie) are no longer with us, but there's still plenty of talent to fill out the bill. Let's start Day 1 off with a contrast in styles — Kendrick Lamar reps California with some of the hottest raps in the game today, while the remaining members of the legendary Beastie Boys (RIP MCA) tear through one of the most unique rap catalogs New York has ever seen. Day 2 is reserved for lyrical legends, as Ice Cube takes the stage for the West as Nas reps the East (please let these two engage in a rap battle). We close the festival out with the tandem of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg alongside HOVA himself, Jay Z. One caveat, however — Dre and Snoop have to stick to their '90s raps, and Jay Z can't play anything recorded post-Black Album. CLINT HALE
Blues Brothers/School of Rock feat. Ed Schneebly, aka Dewey Finn; Faith +1/Spinal Tap; The Rutles/Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Held in Indio, this showcase of the best fictional bands of all time would boast some fun highlights. For instance, you could compare Dewey Finn and his now-grown School of Rockers' take on AC/DC against the current Axl Rose-fronted version of the real thing. Night two would feature a pair of humorous trios: Eric Cartman, Butters and Token reuniting for their frankincense-selling act, Faith +1, followed by Spinal Tap, cranking it up to 11 for “Big Bottom.” The whole thing ends with The Rutles and Billy Shears vying for best Beatles cover act, which Shears would clearly win since he is Paul McCartney’s lookalike stand-in. Music snobs would dub it “Fauxchella,” even as they’d vehemently argue for their own snubbed favorites. Why not Full House’s Jesse and the Rippers? You’d get John Stamos and maybe at least one Beach Boy with that selection. A case could be made for the Partridge Family since, at 82, Shirley Jones is only six or seven years older than McCartney. And please, allow us to agree and beat you stoners to the punch: Wyld Stallyns do in fact rule. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
THE FEST THAT FELL TO EARTH
Pavement/Of Montreal/Jets to Brazil (guest: Iggy Pop); Pixies/Sonic Youth/Radiohead (guest: Leonard Cohen); The Smiths/The Postal Service/Patti Smith (guest: Brian Eno)
Since MegaFest is created by, well, us, and can include anyone still breathing, let’s have a few reunions! Nothing sells imaginary tickets faster than fantasy bands. I opt for some of that ’80s-’90s weirdness and vote for favorites from my college years. Envision this: two eclectic and eccentric days of the most creative and original music ever written, with one rule: Half of each set are covers of music from the other five bands. Who wouldn’t want to hear Radiohead cover Pavement’s “Western Homes” or Sonic Youth try their hand at the Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man”? I would love to hear Of Montreal cover anything because Kevin Barnes is a madman musical genius, but I’ll settle for hearing his covers of Orange Rhyming Dictionary. Oh, and each night should have a surprise special guest during each headliner’s mandatory three-song encore: Last rule: All encores must be David Bowie tributes. KRISTY LOYE
My Chemical Romance/The Used; Taking Back Sunday/Armor For Sleep
Music has always been emotive, but if ever a genre encapsulated pre-teen angst better than any other, it was emo. Before Justin Bieber popularized the haircut with fans of pop music, countless young men were half-hiding behind their swooped bangs as they performed melodic choruses in between alt-rock and pop-punk verses, all of which were laden with melodramatic lyrics. "I'm not okay, I promise," My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way swore to his fans. Meanwhile, The Used sang of boys with their hearts safety-pinned to their backpacks, and Taking Back Sunday's Adam Lazzara apologized for bleeding onto his lover's shirt after she slit his throat. "I didn't care that you left and abandoned me," Armor for Sleep's Ben Jorgensen lamented. "What hurts more is [that] I would still die for you." Take it all in, boys and girls. Sure, we're taxpaying adults now, and many of us have dependents and poke fun at "kids these days." But for one weekend — Friday and Saturday only, leaving Sunday for, you know, grocery shopping and other grownup errands — wouldn't it be fun for us to bring back the frayed skinny jeans, studded belts and straightened hair to celebrate the bands we adored so much back in the day? MATTHEW KEEVER
Third Eye Blind/Everclear; Counting Crows/No Doubt; Foo Fighters/Matchbox Twenty
Maybe it's just because the ’90s were my formative years, but I've always had a fondness for the pop-rock bands that emanated from that era. We kick things off with a double bill of Third Eye Blind and Everclear (you know damn well you'll sing along to "Santa Monica" and "Semi-Charmed Life”). We get a little more subdued and emotional on Day 2 as Counting Crows and No Doubt take the stage. Adam Duritz mopes and refuses to play "Mr. Jones," while Gwen Stefani sings about an ex-boyfriend who is still in the band. We close out with a band that still headlines festivals to this day, and another that would draw big money if it chose to reunite for a tour — Foo Fighters and Matchbox Twenty, respectively. Dave Grohl goes out and does badass Dave Grohl things. Rob Thomas does cheesy Rob Thomas things, but it kinda works for him. Nostalgia fills the air, and everyone goes home recalling high school as way more awesome than it actually was. CLINT HALE
MONSTERS OF BRITPOP
Radiohead/Oasis; Blur/Lush; Coldplay/Pulp
This twist on ’90s nostalgia should get every proper Anglophile’s knickers in a twist. Perhaps no amount of money in the world could convince Radiohead to ever play “Creep” again, but throw enough toward the right cause and maybe they could be persuaded to play all of The Bends — with the OK Computer singles thrown in as encores. Oasis would do it simply to avoid the sting of being slighted; that, and festivals often bring out the brothers Gallagher’s quarrelsome best. Blur’s acerbic, increasingly ambitious bourgeois anthems paired with Lush’s swirling-guitar adventures in dreamland could make for an epic Day 2, especially if the weather is nice. Coldplay gets the nod to close for sheer sales figures alone, but Chris Martin better bring all he has, because Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker was born to play the role of spoiler — and because “Common People” could be the weekend’s high point even if he’s having an off night. CHRIS GRAY
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Baha Men/Vanilla Ice; The Vapors/The Knack; A-ha/Los del Rio
In a stroke of marketing genius, organizers of this gathering cater to every music-festival lover who is incapable of or morally opposed to paying increasingly exorbitant ticket prices for these events. You won’t need a payment plan for this one, since everyone gets in for six bucks, which is about what it would cost (total) to buy each act’s only hit song from iTunes. Get ready to hear some songs you absolutely do not know, like “Letter From Hiro,” which is track 11 on Turning Japanese – The Best of The Vapors. While you’re waiting to do the Just Dance 3 moves to A-ha’s live performance of “Take On Me," you can visit the VH1-sponsored “Fad Pad” to get nostalgic with short-lived popular notions like pogs and Tamagotchi. Just don’t be late for the massive group dance to Los Del Rio’s “Macarena.” JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
Beyoncé/Welcome to Houston; George Strait/Willie Nelson; Spoon/Explosions In the Sky/The Black Angels
Of course, a state as musically vast as this one deserves a MegaFest; the real problem is it needs at least two or three to do justice to everyone who deserves to play. But purely for argument’s sake, it’s mighty tough to argue against this lineup (thanks to Cory G. for helping dream it up): pop’s hottest diva/budding activist and a cast of H-Town rap heavyweights that rivals the ’27 Yankees, with The Suffers and Los Skarnales taking turns as the backing band; two stone-cold legends who understand Bob Wills will always be the king; and three of Texas’s hottest 21st-century bands to bring the weekend to an appropriately mind-expanding and rockin’ finale. But that doesn’t leave much for the rock-geezer set, so how about a Thursday-night appetizer featuring ZZ Top, Steve Miller Band and Roky Erickson? Or we might as well go ahead and start booking Weekend Two… CHRIS GRAY