Music festivals have found a special place in the hearts of fans over the past fifty years as they have enormously grown all over the United States. From the infamous Woodstock to present day EDC, people have flocked from all parts of the country, even world, to partake in an epic three day journey that they will never forget. Unfortunately, as with any big music festival, drugs will find a way in. That’s just the way it is.
On February 2nd, the LA Times team of writers, headed by Rong-Gong Lin II, launched a tirade against Pasquale Rotella and his flourishing company, Insomniac, accusing his “Ecstasy fueled” festivals as the scapegoat that has caused more and more tragedies all over the country. It ruthlessly pinpoints the EDM scene solely as an object of revenue that holds no concern for the millions of fans involved. The opinions of Lin and his team couldn’t be more erroneous as they go further to childishly blame Pasquale for the actions that have led to the drug related deaths of a few concert goers over the past years. Amongst all these accusations, the lack of credible research and blatant finger pointing makes this a more opinionated matter than anything, steering readers further and further from the facts.
The truth of the matter is, Pasquale and his company have worked diligently on keeping drug use to a minimum as well as maintaining a strong security team. His shows offer numerous medical stations along with free water stations to keep all fans hydrated. Pasquale has even taken the media through every security process, from the security pat down to the carnival rides to prove how serious he takes this matter. Furthermore, he has spoken out countless times against illegal behavior and encouraged all who attend to go simply for the experience. Despite these rigid attempts, it is nearly impossible to ensure all fans are clean. That is something all festival promoters can attest to. In his interview with magneticmag.com, he sums it up: “At some point you have to say, ‘Where does self-responsibility come in?’ Listen, if we do something at one of our shows that doesn’t ensure people’s safety, then that’s something to talk about. But if someone wants to come and do something, you know…we can’t bubble wrap every attendee. We can’t have one security guard per one person.”
To put the blame solely on Pasquale or the Dance music scene isn’t accurate. Simply put, the correlation between drugs and dance music does not mean that dance music causes drug use. The use of drugs is the choice of the individual, not something forced from the sound or style of music. People who attend these shows assume a certain level of responsibility to be in accordance with the standards set by Insomniac. It is a two-way bargain; Insomniac will grant the individual three days of access, and in return, the individual will comply with the rules of self behavior.
This isn’t the first time LA times has attacked Pasquale. In July of 2012, they proclaimed “controversy and conflict seem to follow the company like a bad smell”. However, the same things these writers accuse Pasquale of can be said for any music festival. The illegal behavior and drug use of individuals is a problem all promoters have, not just Insomniac. Not that this justifies it, but no matter how much security you have and anti-drug statements you make, there will always be a few people making the poor decision to neglect the authorities and engage in this illicit behavior. Following the recent LA Times post, Pasquale released a Call To Action!! to once again override the biased reporting of the LA Times:
Perhaps the most disturbing feature of Lin’s article was including the profiles of fourteen individuals who had suffered from drug related deaths at EDM shows. It is amazing to see what measures people will take to try and prove a point. These obituaries serve as what the LA Times considers victims of these shows rather than the drug. Seeing their faces and reading about their deaths is very powerful and moving, but using this information as means to support their [LA Times] point of view is simply disgusting.
If Lin and his crew want to solely blame EDM for causing these drug-related deaths, they might as well hold every other festival accountable for the same thing. What about the man who suffered a heart attack at Lollapalooza and died back in 2009? Or what about the fact that Bonnaroo has reported ten deaths since 2002? The people responsible for these festivals work hard to keep drugs out to protect the health of their fans, but no matter how hard they try, drugs will be used.
At the end of the day, the responsibility of each individual not only determines his or her safety but also holds up their end of the bargain; an underlying issue the LA times refused to acknowledge. Being the powerful and persuasive media source that the LA times is, it is discouraging to see them post such an opinionated article. Its mangled story delivers an inaccurate perception of the Dance music scene and a distorted image of both Pasquale and Insomniac by making them out to be monsters. However, Pasquale continually displays his appreciation and love for the fans of Electronic Dance Music as he offers more and more festivals every year, with each delivering a experience to fans that will last a lifetime.