EDM is the music industry’s cash cow and punching bag. What once went down in warehouse raves now fuels multi-million-dollar festivals. Can they clean up their act and still clean up?
At the end of July, more than 180,000 people from over 200 countries gathered in a scenic national park in the small town of Boom, Belgium (near Brussels), and partied for three days straight. (Or really, two-and-a-half: The torrential downpour that hit on Saturday night around 10 p.m. was a crowd-killer for sure.) Walking along the grounds of Tomorrowland, a festival in its ninth year, on Friday morning before gates opened, the place seemed almost surreal even without hordes of party people in wildly divergent stages of sobriety (though like all such festivals, Tomorrowland runs a hard line against drug use). It felt very European fairy-tale, clean but florid. The main stage set-up was something like a scale version of Castle Greyskull from He-Man, complete with waterfall to the right of the DJ and a sit-down restaurant inside its stage-left gateway. Another stage looked like a butterfly; the get-up of yet another, the hardstyle-focused Q-Dance stage, resembled a rabid insect.