California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Hard core partying problematic for music festivals

Thousands of people stand in line eagerly awaiting admittance; a boy wearing a tie-dye toga stands behind a girl in a bikini and a tiara, who stands behind a group of twenty-somethings wearing practically nothing. No, it’s not Halloween – it’s music festival season.

But somewhere along the way, the message got lost. The purpose of these festivals originally was (and still is) to enjoy performances by talented musicians, not to debauch oneself and post the aftermath on social networks or parade around in the latest pop-culture-driven fashions.

Every year, thousands of young adults (and some not-so-young) flock to see their favorite musicians perform at various musical festivals around the country.

From Coachella and Stagecoach in California to Ultra Music Festival in Florida, “festival season” is officially upon us.

Unfortunately, the music-related festivities are often over-shadowed by consumerism, alcohol and drug use, promiscuity – even instances of injuries and deaths.

Juliet Mothershed, adjunct communication professor at California Lutheran University and long-time festival-goer, said that while the music and performances are still what drive ticket sales, companies are more eager than ever to capitalize on an opportunity to advertise to captive audiences.

“One drawback is that festivals are becoming a big business, which is good for advertisers and marketers because it’s very cost efficient to market within these ‘trend incubator’ events, but it also means that you’ll see more and more advertising and marketing and increased attention, attendance and ticket prices,” Mothershed said.

Mothershed will be cancelling class to attend Coachella as an event photographer.

Many, like Mothershed, enjoy attending the events despite the increased marketing.

Ava Wagner, an undergraduate student at Middlebury College in Vermont, said she will be skipping class and traveling to California to attend Stagecoach, a country music festival, on April 25. Besides the various performances, she is attracted to the social atmosphere of the event.

“I’m really looking forward to getting to party with my friends and meet new people there. From what I’ve heard, it’s a really fun environment and most of the people who attend are super nice. It’s essentially a giant tailgate.”

Music festivals have been publicly scrutinized for the hazardous crowds and rampant drug use.

Paul Edward, 60, is a former professional drummer and long-time Los Angeles resident. He “doesn’t remember there being the strong drug and alcohol undertones” of today’s festivals.

“Of course, I grew up in a time where there were lots of people experimenting with drugs. But for the most part, going to a big concert was to enjoy some good music with your friends. The musicians haven’t gotten less talented, the fans have just stopped caring,” Edward said.
Recently, at Ultra Music Festival, two people died from injuries while attending the event.

According to, “a representative from Ultra Festival said that organizers ‘worked hand-in-hand’ with the police department, putting the onus of the security and safety of their attendees on the city. Police officers at the event have increased from 140 in 2012, to 208 in 2013, and to 257 this year.”

It is unfortunate that safety hazards and over-commercialization has rained on these music parades.

But it could mean a permanent change for the best in the way these festivals are organized in the future.


Allison Tade
Staff Writer
Published April 16, 2014

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