The Los Angeles Times today published a guest opinion piece penned under the name of Pasquale Rotella, the man behind the controversial Electric Daisy Carnival raves.
It was written in reaction to bad press Rotella's Incomniac Events sustained after last month's near riot outside the Hollywood premier of the Electric Daisy Carnival Experience documentary. A few days later the Times , in an editorial, argued that EDC didn't deserve to return to the publicly run L.A. Coliseum, a move Rotella desires.
Today's opinion piece made some points that might or might not hold water (you decide):
--That the media have wrongly called Insomniac's festivals raves.
We don't think this is an erroneous use of the word. Usage is what defines a word. "Raves" is what most people who attend them call them. And while the piece has a point -- raves were once illicit, underground parties, and Insomniac's parties are legitimate, concert-level festivals (absolutely true) -- the word has evolved and, if anything, no one calls warehouse parties raves anymore; if anything, people call big, DJ-driven festivals raves.
Besides, small underground parties hardly exist anymore: They've been driven out of business, at least indirectly, by big promoters like Insomniac.
--That Electric Daisy Carnival has been held "without major incident" before 2010.
That could be true, but the promoter, the county and the Coliseum Commission have not been forthcoming when it comes to statistics about overdoses and deaths at the events.
What's more, sources told us that about one death a year at the quarterly raves at the Coliseum/Sports Arena complex has been the norm in recent years. (Insomniac put on EDC at the Coliseum annually and co-promoted the New Year's Eve party Together as One at the neighboring Sports Arena).
Interestingly, the piece doesn't mention two deaths tied this summer to EDC's Dallas event.
--That, following the death of a 15-year-old girl at EDC in L.A. in 2010, an event that helped to unravel the promoter's stranglehold on the Coliseum, the media have not focused on other controversial music events with the same scrutiny.
Not really true. Two deaths at the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee this summer attracted plenty of bad press. It just didn't happen in L.A. When 2010's Coachella saw a near-crush of people we were all over it.
--That "Insomniac had nothing to do with" with the near riot in Hollywood last month.
Decide for yourself:
The screening was billed as an Insomniac happening in invitations to the press. A source who helped secure the red-carpet curb permit for the screening told us a grand entrance by superstar DJ Kaskade, who figures prominently in the promoter's documentary, was planned that day, and that music was part of the event. (Kaskade tweeted that he was DJing a free "block party" that day, and all hell broke loose).
A publicist for the doc later used the ruckus as a marketing point in an email to journalists: "The film that caused quite an uproar in Hollywood is back for an encore showing!" Note the word "caused."
--That any good news coming from EDC, including the promoter's own claim of a $42 million economic benefit to L.A., has been treated by us reporters as "a small footnote."
--That Insomniac continues to have a "a zero-tolerance policy for illegal substance possession and use."
This is a little hard to swallow.
The promoter's people were happy when L.A. County decided to distribute how-to-take-ecstasy fliers at its events. (After the Weekly's coverage blew up into a national story the county pulled the idea).
And chill-out areas at EDC in Vegas -- where young people were splayed on the floor -- were clear sanctuaries for the ecstasy induced. That certainly doesn't seem like "zero-tolerance" to us.
--That "by releasing medical and law enforcement statistics after our events, Insomniac has become more transparent than any other major U.S. festival producer."
Not true at all: Insomniac hasn't really been the source for any of these statistics. Its up to the first-responder organization in question to do so, and for a promoter to claim to be the gatekeeper of police and fire department data smacks of hubris.
That said, after we noted in our coverage of the three-day EDC Vegas in July that there were already more medical emergencies by day two than had been seen at the controversial L.A. party the year before, the info stream dried up. That info stream was coming through a Vegas police spokesman, who suddenly handed us off to a private ambulance company, which never returned our calls.
We never did get a total number of medical responses for the three-day Vegas party.
Additionally when we asked medical personnel on-site about these numbers, in an area made accessible to all ticket-holders, we were told to leave or we would be arrested. That's hardly transparent, and we welcome the promoter to come up with that final number of medical responses for EDC Vegas.
And, for the record, there were 330 medical responses in the first two days at EDC Vegas, compared to 226 at the two-day L.A. fest in 2010 that got Insomniac in hot water.
--The piece claims that the media didn't turn as much heat on recent events such as the L.A. Rising concert at the Coliseum and Insomniac's own Audiotistic rave in San Bernardino last month.
Not entirely true:
We covered the aftermath of both. L.A. Rising drew 53,000 people, saw 16 medical emergencies and inspired cops to make four arrests. That's a far cry from EDC 2010's 60 drug-related arrests and 226 medical emergencies. In any case, to say "the media" wasn't on it is unfair. We're the second most-read publication in Los Angeles. You can read all about it here.
As far as EDC's Audiotistic goes, that event saw three medical transports (we're not sure what the number of treatments on-scene was because of the promoter's use of private medics and, of course, because of its transparency) and 43 arrests, including 35 for alleged sales or possession of narcotics.
--The piece notes that pot smoke, an indication of drug use, is prevalent at Hollywood Bowl concerts.
True: Marijuana and wine seem to be the drugs of choice there. But keep in mind that medical marijuana is legal in California, and no one has fatally OD'd on it at these concerts as far as we can tell. We're not sure there are many medical emergencies or transports related to marijuana, either.
--The piece argues that electronic music festivals shouldn't be banned anymore than rock concerts should have been following Hells Angeles violence at Altamont in 1969.
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Fair enough, but the rock concert business took its lumps and evolved, particularly when it comes to safety. Altamont didn't happen again, either. If Hells Angels attacking concert-goers was a predictable, annual occurrence, we think organizers and public officials would have a hard time approving such events.
Unfortunately, certain aspects of massive raves, from the Bay Area to Dallas to L.A., have been almost predictable.
Look, we're not anti-rave or anti-electronic. But if mega-raves are going to happen on publicly controlled land, the people should indeed be treated to full transparency. So far this promoter, known for booking top DJs, is just giving us more spin.