Roger Waters puts his politics center stage at Desert Trip
INDIO — Roger Waters made his feelings about Donald Trump and Israel abundantly clear during a politically-charged performance at the Desert Trip music festival Sunday night.
The 73-year-old singer-songwriter also denounced war and addressed the Black Lives Matter movement in his 2 1/2-hour set that closed out the three-day classic rock concert in Indio, California.
Waters blasted the Republican presidential candidate in music and images. Trump's face appeared on the massive video screen above the stage with the word "Charade" across it as Waters performed the Pink Floyd song "Pigs (Three Different Ones)." Subsequent images showed Trump wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood.
Meanwhile, a parade-sized balloon shaped like a pig floated above the audience. It had Trump's face painted on the side with the words "Ignorant, lying, racist, sexist pig." And in case that wasn't straightforward enough, giant letters flashed across the big screen reading "Trump is a pig."
Waters followed up with "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)," during which 15 school-age children came onstage wearing T-shirts that read, "Derriba el muro" — Spanish for "Take down the wall."
While other Desert Trip performers mentioned the presidential election, Waters was the only one who brought up the Black Lives Matter movement in front of the overwhelmingly white audience. As he performed "Us and Them," the big screen showed pictures of protest signs. "White silence is violence," read one. "I cannot believe I still have to protest this (expletive)," another said.
Waters told the crowd that he's been working with wounded warriors in Washington, D.C., and brought a young American veteran who lost his legs onstage to play lead guitar with the band on "Shine on You Crazy Diamond."
"Working with these men has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done in my life," Waters said. He dedicated the song to all victims of war and violence.
His set also included "Time," ''Money," ''Wish You Were Here" and "Dark Side of the Moon."
The former Pink Floyd frontman waited until near the end of his performance to voice his support for the Palestinian-led BDS movement, which calls for boycotts and sanctions against the Israeli government.
"I'm going to send out all of my most heartfelt love and support to all those young people on the campuses of the universities of California who are standing up for their brothers and sisters in Palestine and supporting the BDS movement," he said, "in the hope that we may encourage the government of Israel to end the occupation."
Before closing with "Vera" and "Comfortably Numb," Waters told the audience, "It's been a huge honor and a huge pleasure to be here to play for you tonight."
The Who took the stage earlier Sunday and rocked through hits from their discography for just over two hours. Frontman Roger Daltrey grinned and danced with guitarist Pete Townsend, who bantered with the audience.
"We love you for coming to see us," he said, dedicating "The Kids Are Alright" to "the young ones" in the crowd.
The Who's set also included "My Generation," with Daltrey stuttering the vocals just right, "You Better You Bet," ''Eminence Front," ''The Acid Queen" and "Pinball Wizard."
Townsend said "I Can See for Miles" was the band's first hit in the United States, back in 1967.
"Such a long (expletive) time ago," he said with a laugh. "We were 1967's version of Adele or Lady Gaga or Rihanna or Bieber."
It's been 49 years since then, but the rockers maintained their classic sound and trademark moves: Daltrey swung his microphone cord around anytime he wasn't singing, and Townsend exaggerated his windmill move as he strummed.
"Roger and I are so glad to be out here at our age," Townsend said. "And I couldn't do it without Roger."
After seeing Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones on Friday, Neil Young and Paul McCartney on Saturday, concertgoers deemed the event a success. While there were some traffic snarls and shuttle-bus issues on Friday, things smoothed out by Sunday, and many attendees said they'd come to Desert Trip again if they liked the lineup.
Held at the same venue where Coachella takes place each spring, Desert Trip aimed at an older and more moneyed crowd than other music festivals, earning it the nickname "Oldchella."
The event repeats next weekend.