The summer may be over before it even starts for dance music events in San Bernardino County, California. County Supervisor Janice Rutherford has recently made moves to block any “rave-style” events after May 24th. To do this, a vote has been planned to nullify the county’s contract with Live Nation, should ‘dance-events’ become a “public safety hazard” or incur “resident complaints.” These developments have arisen due to continued public backlash over festivals like Nocturnal Wonderland and Beyond Wonderland, two highly successful music festivals that make up Insomniac’s yearly schedule.
The chief venue in question is the San Manuel Amphitheater, where the majority of the county’s live events take place. Unfortunately, in this classic clash of small-town preferences against city wary festival-goers, history may be on the side of the county authorities. Before 2013, EDM shows in this area happened in San Bernardino’s National Orange Show Events Center, but had to move due to similar disgruntled citizens in the surrounding area. (Though, events have since returned to that particular venue.) The complaints range from the usual dissatisfaction over loud/lengthy sets that last into the morning, to increased traffic in the area from out-of-town attendees (especially when camping isn’t available), to concern over the drug culture/overdoses that occur.
But, what makes this move unprecedented for a county like this is its discriminatory attempt to ban an entire genre of music. While the San Manuel Amphitheater had a hand in hosting huge festivals like Nocturnal Wonderland, EDM actually accounts for a fraction of the types of shows that happen there. Much more common within its walls are acts like GWAR, Slayer, and Slipknot, that surely don’t hold back when it comes to the volume and intensity of their shows. However, in these cases, especially with a genre like EDM (that most of rural-town America is not used to) a hasty reaction may come out of fear. In the minds of the residents, it’s better to shut down the more unknown form of music (and the culture that goes with it) rather than get to know it. It’s either that, or exclusively zero in on the negative qualities it brings.
This kind of lazy logic is on full display with comments from residents like, “rave events” go “beyond what anybody should endure” or that “I believe, I think it’s Live Nation, is putting San Bernardino County in huge, huge liability.” The superficial complaints could merely be a front for more deeply held disagreements over lifestyle and a perceived lack of respect (on the part of festival goers) for the local community.
And for Janice Rutherford, these (in her words) “dozens, if not hundreds” of complaints from residents will be enough justification to try to end EDM events for good there. It’s “where we are at this point,” Rutherford said, in an interview with the San Bernardino Sun.
So for anyone who’s looking forward to Nocturnal Wonderland this year, be on the look out for a change of venue if the vote on the 24th goes down in opposition to Live Nation.
Source: The Sun