Is Jay Z a Trojan Horse for Raves in Downtown L.A.?
The Jay Z-curated Made in America festival is being touted as the first ticketed concert at downtown L.A.'s relatively new Grand Park.
In reality it's taking place mostly on the streets of downtown Los Angeles because the park can only accommodate about 25,000 people. The capacity for Made in America, which costs $155 for a general, 2-day pass, is 50,000. And some of the top rave promoters in the nation might be integrated into the festivities, LA Weekly has learned.
Is L.A. prepared for thousands of raving teenagers on the streets of downtown? Stephen D. Rountree, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Music Center, which programs some events at the park, says ...
... two-thirds of the event will be held on downtown streets, with the other third taking place in the park.
He made the remark last night on KCRW's (89.9 FM) "Which Way L.A.," which focused on "Private Profit in the 'People's Park.'"
This previously unspoken scope of the two-day event Labor Day weekend could change the public's perception of what the party is all about. The fest will prominently feature electronic dance music (EDM) DJs and performers, a source in the concert industry told LA Weekly.
That's not a big surprise. Made in America's Philadelphia party last year featured EDM stars Skrillex, Deadmau5 and Calvin Harris, who are huge draws on the rave circuit.
But here's where it gets more interesting:
Two concert industry sources with knowledge of the situation told us that Made in America organizer Live Nation was weighing the possibility of having two of America's largest rave-oriented promoters host the dance stage at Made in America.
The Hard festival would take Saturday and Insomniac Events would take Sunday. But the idea is just that, a proposal in its early stages, we were told. Live Nation owns Hard as well as half of Insomniac.
Both of those EDM promoters have had a hard time finding venues large enough (and, in some cases, tolerant enough) for their events in Southern California.
Hard Summer is moving this year to Whittier Narrows Recreation Area because its former home, Los Angeles State Historic Park, is closed for renovation. Insomniac stated earlier this year that it has no venues for its biggest fair-weather parties in SoCal this year.
EDC 2010 via Nate "Igor" Smith/LA Weekly
Insomniac chief Pasquale Rotella told us previously that he would be interested in doing events at the park, and we were told by a concert industry insider that Hard had also expressed interest in the venue.
Rotella's Electric Daisy Carnival drew bad press in 2010 after a 15-year-old girl who had sneaked into the publicly owned L.A. Coliseum later died of an ecstasy overdose. The tragedy put an end to raves at the Coliseum and at its sister venue, the L.A. Sports Arena, and sparked a public corruption case.
EDC 2010 also experienced a crush of inside-the-venue gatecrashers, and police made about 60, mostly drug-related arrests during that two-day party. That figure is not out of the norm compared to other festivals, such as this month's Coachella.
The party also saw 226 medical emergencies, prompting some politicians to express concern about the level of drug use at raves.
Insomniac founder Rotella is facing a public corruption case that heads to court in September. Prosecutors allege he and fellow promoter Reza Gerami of Go Ventures paid a public official nearly $2 million under-the-table to smooth their events at the Coliseum and Sports Arena.
But Rotella not only won a similar civil case brought by the Coliseum, he was also awarded $400,000 for his legal costs.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose office negotiated with Live Nation in order to bring Made in America to the streets of downtown, is a fan of electronic dance music. And he has said that he's all for raves returning to the city's core.
Is Garcetti's backroom deal with Live Nation a way to sneak raves back into the center of Los Angeles? Who knows. But Rountree of the adjacent Music Center says he foresees a few ticketed concerts a year at the park.
A spokeswoman for L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina told us that concerts were foreseen as one of the uses for the venue. Molina, who spearheaded the park's creation, is on-board with the Jay Z fest.
The mayor's negotiations with Live Nation appear to include several hundred thousand dollars in rent for the venue, Rountree said. But because Budweiser is a sponsor we're presuming that beer concessions, often a lucrative piece of the revenue pie that goes to venues, might not be benefitting the people of L.A.
The mayor's office has been miserly with details regarding the festival. It's not that we haven't asked.
As it stands the footprint for the party runs from Grand Avenue to Main Street, and from Temple Street to Second Street. Some downtown residents feel left out of the nonexistent public process for Made in America. They're concerned that street closures and concert traffic will make their lives miserable that weekend.
However, as Downtown News executive editor Jon Regardie observed on "Which Way L.A.," if you're going to close streets in downtown, late-August vacation season is probably the best time to do so.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.