“As we move forward, more measures need to be considered to create a safe environment for all patrons and a zero tolerance policy for illicit drugs.” – L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis

It seems every young generation faces a push-and-pull phenomenon against the preferred genre of music from their time; recall the “immorality” of jazz in the 1920’s, the banning of rock n’ roll in the 50’s, and the FBI’s attempt to censor rap in the 90’s. Every generation of young people has faced scrutiny from the typically older public officials of their time. It appears that the target in the status quo is electronic music. Due to an association with heavy drug use, a rebellious lifestyle, and sometimes revealing outfits, music festivals that have included electronic acts are becoming the target of public policy. The best example of this was the recent decision by HARD, an electronic music concert promoter, to raise the age limit of their upcoming festival HARD Day of the Dead to 21, and to cap the attendance of the festival at 40,000 (their summer festival hosted 65,000 attendees each day). The promotion group announced these changes almost immediately after a decision was unanimously reached by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to study a ban on raves held at county facilities. The decision was made after two young females tragically passed away due to suspected drug overdoses during HARD’s summer event held at the Pomona Fairplex. While many in the electronic music community took this as an attack on the scene, a broader reason is influencing the decision behind the banning of raves, the closing of clubs, and the media’s misconceptions of electronic music. That reason is the simple, innocent, and uncontrollable factor of age.

Whether they remember it or not, all adults had a youth; yet when it comes to the younger generations, older adults see their activities as a threat. They worry that the next generation is becoming corrupt, and one of the most common scapegoats is the music that is popular with the youth. It doesn’t matter what it is, how nice it sounds, or how disciplined you must be to create it, music of the youth is “corrupt and should be stopped”. Take for example the lack of attention on country music festivals by lawmakers. Over 170 people were arrested at Stagecoach alone, one person died at a Jason Aldean concert (where the attendance was half that of HARD Summer), and another person was allegedly sexually assaulted at a Keith Urban concert. Despite these worrisome statistics, no visible action is being taken against country music festivals. Why? Because the typical attendee of a country music event is older than one who would attend an electronic music event.

Realistically, there is no difference in the activities that takes place between festivals of different genres. Alcohol is classified as a drug, even though it is legal, and thus the levels of drug consumption at music festivals across the spectrum are comparable. On top of the bias in policy banning raves and clubs, there is a much larger issue at hand. Though extremely tragic and unfortunate, two deaths at a festival with an attendance of 130,000 over a two day period is miraculous compared to drug-related deaths outside the bubble of a music festival. If legislators were more concerned about actual drug violence than the youth’s preferred music, we would be passing laws focused on the latter. In 2009, drug overdoses exceeded motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death. 37,485 people across the country tragically passed away from overdoses according to the Center for Disease Control. In Los Angeles County alone, there was over 600 drug-related deaths in 2009. Experts also note that while most major preventable causes of death are on the decline, drugs are an exception. It seems that LA County and the country as a whole may have bigger problems than music festivals, and electronic music festivals specifically.

Despite the facts and no matter what argument is made, public officials will continue to demonize music of the youth as they have for generations. The attack on electronic music is not a novel phenomenon, it is merely a new generation, a new style of music, and a new target.