Power Trip Festival: What to Expect at Rock’s Biggest Weekend
After months of anticipation, the Power Trip festival has arrived.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, six of the biggest names in rock and heavy metal will descend upon the California desert. The lineup is formidable, with Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Tool taking the stage. Unlike other festivals, which usually see artists playing abridged performances, each act will deliver a headlining-length set of material.
Adding to the intrigue, many of these artists have history with one another. Could Axl Rose jump onstage with AC/DC, whom he memorably fronted in 2016? How about a collaboration between Guns N’ Roses and Metallica, who famously toured together in 1992?
Power Trip will be held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif. Music fans know this best as the annual site of Coachella. The location also hosts country music’s Stagecoach festival and was the site of the famous Desert Trip event in 2016 (which featured Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and more).
Here’s what to expect from each band on the Power Trip lineup (in order of performance).
Iron Maiden gets things started with a set at 6:45PM on Friday night. They have been trekking all over the world as part of their Future Past tour, but Power Trip marks the band's first show on U.S. soil in 2023. Maiden last played in America on Oct. 27, 2022, the final stop of their Legacy of the Beast tour.
Frontman Bruce Dickinson has hinted that they may have something new to announce once their Power Trip commitment is complete. "Something else will happen. I can't tell you what. But you'll be happy,” Dickinson cryptically noted in a video message to fans.
Guns N’ Roses
Rose, Slash, Duff McKagan and Guns N' Roses will return to the desert for night one of the festival. The trio originally got back together in 2016 at this location, headlining two weekends of Coachella. Things have gone so well since then that Guns N' Roses has remained on the road, performing over 200 shows since announcing their reunion.
With renewed civility has come new material. Guns N' Roses released the songs "Absurd," "Hard Skool" and "Perhaps." These were demos that the band revisited with fresh ears and their reinvigorated lineup. Guns N' Roses have been mixing this new material into their set lists, so it'll be interesting what they have in store for the Power Trip spotlight.
Count Judas Priest bassist Ian Hill among those who are excited about Power Trip's six-headliner setup. “I think it’s a good concept because everyone’s excited to see six bands on three different days,” Hill told The Press Enterprise. “It would be difficult with bands of this stature. You couldn’t get them all on one bill or in one day anyway. There wouldn’t be enough time and there wouldn’t be enough room for egos, probably, on who would top the bill.”
With a new album reportedly in the works, Judas Priest may have some unheard material in their arsenal when they take the stage on Saturday. The band was a late addition to the lineup after Ozzy Osbourne withdrew because of ongoing health issues. “It is a great thing to get asked to be a part of,” Hill admitted. “We’re sorry Ozzy couldn’t do it. He’s not in the best place at the moment. But I know Ozzy; he’s built like a tank. He’ll be back at it one time or another.”
No artist on the Power Trip lineup has had a longer layoff than AC/DC. This set will be their first performance since Sept. 20, 2016. A lot of things have happened in the seven years since then, most notably the death of rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young. His replacement, nephew Stevie Young, will be on hand at Power Trip. Drummer Matt Laug is also taking over for Phil Rudd. Power Trip will mark AC/DC’s first gig since the release of their 2020 LP Power Up, suggesting that several songs may see their live debut on the night.
Saturday will also prove to be something of a reunion: AC/DC takes the stage after Judas Priest, and the two bands previously toured together in the early ‘80s. “We had a great time with them back then, but it was the ’80s, a great time was had by all in the ’80s,” Hill added. “We’d go out on the days off in the evenings and we’d travel a bit on their bus occasionally. I’m looking forward to seeing them again.”
The young guns on the Power Trip bill are in Tool, even though they’ve been around for more than 30 years. Frontman Maynard James Keenan admitted it was humbling to see his band on a lineup with these rock legends. "It's overwhelming to be put in the same list with those people,” he recently confessed. “All you can really do is not worry about it — just kind of do what you do and try to do it the best you can so that you don't look like a clown next to these superstars."
Bassist Justin Chancellor further revealed that the band is very aware of who is playing after them on Sunday night, and will adjust their set list accordingly. “We’ll try to accommodate the Metallica fans a little bit,” Chancellor told The Press Enterprise. “They’ll be like ‘Ugh, come on, get off! Metallica!’ We’re considering that a little bit because we don’t want to drag them down our wormhole too deeply.”
Lars Ulrich was in the crowd for Desert Trip in 2016 and noticed how different it felt from other festivals. “Desert Trip was just the headliners on one stage,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a great site, with a lot of music history. Subsequently, there was some chatter about doing a hard rock version; the offer finally came in six or nine months ago. As a fan of hard rock, I’m going to be there the whole weekend and see every band.” Metallica will have the honor of closing the three-night event.
The band has been traveling across the globe for their M72 world tour, but Power Trip will offer a different experience. The M72 gigs have found Metallica playing two shows with different set lists in each city, whereas this festival will be a one-and-done affair. Even though Metallica has the closing slot, Ulrich admitted he can’t help but admire the other acts on the bill. “Obviously, AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest were huge influences,” he said. “Those three bands are a significant part of the reason that we wanted to be in a band. So to get everybody together in the same space is a bit awe-inspiring.”
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