Why do we go to music festivals?

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Why do we go to music festivals?

By Ethan Alonzo, CONTRIBUTOR

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Meet me under the electric sky.
What sounds like a password to a speakeasy-themed bar means much more to those who attend the Electric Daisy Carnival or EDC.
Music festivals have been part of United States’ entertainment history since Fantasy Fair, the first music festival in 1967. After Fantasy Fair, music festivals have become a summer staple for lovers of live performances.
Those who attend do not let the politics, ticket prices, or health risks affect the once in a lifetime chance to witness their favorite music artist perform live in a one-of-a-kind environment.
The days of Woodstock and Lollapalooza have given way to EDC in Las Vegas, Coachella Fest in Indio, California, and Tomorrowland in Belgium.
EDC, within a five-year period of 2011 to 2015, has produced $21.9 million in state and local tax revenue, in 2015 attendees’ direct spending amounted to $168.3 million, totaling out to $1 billion in 5 years, and $81.4 million in state and local taxes, according to a study done by Beacon Economics LCC, a company specializing in investment consultations.
But with festivals of this magnitude, the number of issues at these events are as large as crowds lining up to buy tickets.
Music festival tickets range from a $70 starting price to $300. However, when people miss the time window to buy tickets or the tickets sell out, they turn to ticket scalpers who buy tickets in bulk and double or even triple the price of the tickets, so a ticket that was $70 face value can cost $400.
Price is not the only issue that music festivals have. Coachella Fest in 2019 had two major incidents during Weekend One. During the first night of Coachella, two mobile shower units caught fire with attendees reporting explosions at 2 a.m.
In a survey taken by 1,000 past festival goers, about 50.2 percent are open to having sexual interaction with someone they just met at a festival. Furthermore, 33.6 percent have actually participated in sexual relations with someone else, according to a survey done by ticket selling website TickPick. The obvious risk of this is contracting a sexually transmitted disease, or STD.
During the first two days of Coachella, the online herpes treatment and diagnosis website saw a total of 250 queries, which dwarfs their usual 12 diagnoses, according to Refinery29.
However, the main reason people have an issue with Coachella is the owner. Owner Philip Anschutz has donated large sums of money in the past to organizations that are publicly against the LGBTQ community, according to a study done by the organization Freedom for All Americans.
Between the years of 2011 to 2013, Anschutz donated a total of $190,000 to various organizations. Some of these organizations oppose abortion and same-sex marriage and have openly battled pro-LGBTQ laws. Throughout the years, he has donated millions to these organizations.
Anschutz’s politics have created something of a rift among music fans. There are those who want to boycott Coachella and then there are those who go to support the artists performing without worrying about the political economy of things.
Henry Lam has attended music festivals for three years now, including EDC 2016 where his best friend held his wedding and Lam was the best man. Lam’s view on the moral economies of music festivals, and moreover Coachella’s issues, is one full of respect for the artist and understanding of why they choose to perform at a festival although they don’t agree with the owner’s political beliefs.
“I would like to say I highly respect the artist that goes by what they believe in, not playing at the biggest festival due to their common beliefs and it is completely understandable,” says Lam. “I do honestly believe that for an artist who sacrifices their beliefs so they can finally get the chance to go big at one of the biggest music festivals in the world is still perfectly fine.”
Lam believes that Coachella is the best example to show how much performing at music festivals have an impact on an artist.
“Coachella is the perfect example because the CEO is highly against the LGBT community and also supports Trump, who half of America is against of,” according to Lam.
However, the CEO’s actions against the LGBTQ community have not taken away the impact that the Coachella stage has on the artist’s career.
“But we also got to understand that since Coachella is one of the biggest festivals and one of the biggest platforms to show off your music, once you are booked for Coachella as an artist means you have made it.”
Among the high prices, threats of STDs, and bathroom fires, why do crowds keep lining up? The answer is simple: it is because the memories they create last a lifetime. Being with your closest friends as you watch the sun creep above the horizon over the famed EDC Ferris Wheel is an experience that can not be put into words.
Bianca Anicete, a festival goer for more than three years, believes that the feeling of not having a care in the world is what makes it all worth it.
“In general, my favorite moments is actually being there with my friends and having fun without a care in the world listening to our favorite artists and DJ’s,” Anicete states. “But to be specific, some of my favorite moments are the sentimental ones.”
Music can hold a special place in our hearts, a feeling Anicete knows all too well.
“The ones where we cried to certain songs or sets because it brought us back to a certain moment in time, brought back certain feelings or reminded us of someone that we lost,” Anicete says.