Electric Daisy Carnival. Bonnaroo. Coachella. Ultra. SXSW. Sasquatch!. Electric Forest. Warped Tour. Summerfest. Mayhem. Lollapalooza. Electric Zoo. Burning Man. The list goes on. Music in the summertime is essential. There’s nothing more relaxing or energy-inducing than being outside on a warm sunny day with music around you. And so, music festivals were born. They are a place where like-minded people who love certain music come together to jam out to their favorite artists’ live music.[media-credit name=”flickr creative commons” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]
The history of music festivals can be traced back to the sixth century BCE at The Pythian Games at Delphi, which was held every four years in honor of the Greek god Apollo. The Games lasted for six to eight days and provided musical performances to the attendees, according to Coastal.edu. In 1969, the Woodstock festival brought in 500,000 attendees for its “3 Days of Peace & Music” with major performers of the day including The Who, Jefferson Airplane and Jimi Hendrix. The Woodstock festival changed the history of rock and roll, and the face of live music.
While the city of New York and its governor were not prepared for so many attendees at Woodstock and worried of potential riots, looting and violence. The half a million people present only created a “sense of social harmony, which, with the quality of music, and the overwhelming mass of people, many sporting bohemian dress, behavior, and attitudes helped to make it one of the enduring events of the century,” according to Simon Warner, author of “Remembering Woodstock.”
While it is amazing to witness how music can bring people together, it has taken a wide turn from Woodstock and its “3 Days of Peace & Music.” Young people who attend music festivals and summer concerts are ready with their stash of alcohol and drugs to indulge in before hitting the concert lawn. While this is expected and almost accepted today, it sometimes is hard to distinguish the line between the reasons why people attend the show — for the music or for the tailgate. Drinking before a show is a ritual for most people, where they socialize with their friends, have fun and then enjoy the show. But for others, the pre-game gets the best of them, and sometimes the dark side of music festivals can lead to serious hospital visits and even death.
Each year, dozens of festival attendees are rushed to hospitals for drug, alcohol and heat-related illnesses. There has always been an association with drugs and overdoses with music. And, with the popularity of electronic dance music rising, the number of cases has increased exponentially. Just a few weeks ago, Miami’s largest spring break music event, Ultra Music Festival, was in the spotlight when kids tried to jump the wall to get in without paying trampled a woman security guard, leaving her with major head trauma and a broken leg.
This year, there were just under 100 arrests, along with 55 rescued people on one day due to “minor injuries as a result of dancing and then we’ve had some people that were found unconscious or used some illegal substances that caused them to overdose,” according to Miami Lt. Ignaius Carroll in an interview with Billboard Magazine. On March 28, two days after the festival ended, the mayor of miami is looking to end the festival for good.
Today there are dozens of music festivals all over the country. From Ultra Musical Festival in Miami, Bonnaroo in Tennessee and Summerfest in Wisconsin, people from all over come together to enjoy the large scale displays, lighting, energy and music put on by the biggest names in the music industry. With the influx of new festivals popping up each year, it can only mean that more people are looking for that outdoor live music experience.
When there are thousands of people packed closely together on hot days, there is bound to be violence, injuries and illness. However, if we claim to love music as much as we do, we should never even allow for officials to consider shutting down a festival. When heading to a music festival this summer, ask yourself why you’re going and what impact you’d like to make on the festival scene. While you’re enjoying the music floating in the warm summer breeze, create an alliance between music, harmony and peace.