A sign glows over L.A. for Primavera Sound, a three-day music festival at L.A. State Historic Park from September 16-18. (Photo by Grace Atkin)

Arts and Entertainment

Review: Primavera Sound LA posed the question, ‘how toxic can concert culture be?’

Our modern-day music festival norms include overpriced food and extravagant outfits, sure, but why is hostility in the picture?
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/gracieg9/" target="_self">Grace Atkin</a>

Grace Atkin

October 3, 2022
Primavera Sound LA is the first of its kind in 2022 and has set a precedent for future festivals at the venue of Los Angeles State Historic Park. Whether this precedent sets an example of what to do or not to do is up to the concertgoer to decide. I can add that $10 for an iced tea and $20 for fries is too much, but some are more willing to pay without complaint. 

Concertgoers Juno, left, and Achilles, right, in their stunning outfits. (Photo by Grace Atkin)

I always look forward to fashion when it comes to live music. Jean jackets with punk rock patches, mesh sets, bright colors, or straight black inspire me to follow suit with hot-girl apparel and flaunt my best self. Who cares if it’ll get dirty in a mosh pit? It’s about the experience.

Two of the best-dressed people at the festival, Juno and Achilles, got the attention of many others there. Their appreciation for Arctic Monkeys and Machine Girl led them here — a crowded park full of party-hungry 20-somethings. I asked about their experience at the festival and a much bigger story I’ve always thrown away came back into view: how we treat concerts nowadays. 

“It felt almost chaotic,” Achilles said about his experience in the pit for Arctic Monkeys, a popular UK band. “There [were] quite a few people behind me pushing and shoving and leaning on top of me just to get a better view, but it wouldn’t make a difference regardless. It was to the point I was fumbling in my tiny cramped space.”

In the pit, Achilles said he felt like he was fumbling in a tiny, cramped space.

A crowd full of phones during Arctic Monkeys. (Photo by Grace Atkin)

“People don’t care as long as they get closer, even if they can’t see for themselves,” Juno said. 

A problem for me when attending largely populated events is typically staying safe in a space as cramped and careless as this one. I experienced a lot of pushing, some accidental, some intentional.

I was surrounded by people complaining about the squeeze, how they were uncomfortable, and others who were reckless with their greed and wanted to dance once the music started to get more space obnoxiously. There was no regard for the safety of others anymore. 

I recall only two artists showing concern for the crowd — PinkPantheress and Girl in Red. Marie, the “girl” behind Girl in Red, even stopped her performance to help a fan. Overall, many agree she had the best performance because she interacted with the crowd, cared for them and hopped in for crowd surfing. It’s devastating that she had to intervene when someone was hurt.

Crowding has been a significant concern for a while. It’s been years since I’ve been to a venue where someone hasn’t complained about the cramped nature the closer you get to the stage or feeling sick and getting the attention of others for help. 

The obsession with the artists is to blame for general cases. Still, Primavera Sound LA had a chaotic design that partially contributed to the dangerous nature of the crowd. By limiting the General Admission (all ages) space to about a fourth of the stage’s length, you have many concertgoers forced into a threatening environment so they can properly enjoy the music.

Even if it’s safe but just overpopulated, there will always be phones plaguing your view. We’re in an age where technologically preserving the memory of being up close triumphs over actually enjoying the music. 

“I’ve noticed in smaller scenes [there] tends to be more considerate people. But otherwise, in the eyes of other people, your well-being and person doesn’t matter,” Achilles said. “When people are closer, it’s almost like in a ‘bragging rights’ type of way.”

Achilles gets it. This is just our music scene nowadays. It’s something we’ll have to learn to live with — why would a large company ever care about the well-being of its customers?

It might be tough for die-hard fans, but the only thing we can really do is take a step back from the crowd. Some festival-goers naturally set up picnics farther from the stage to enjoy their own bubble. It’s very possible to do that with most venues, however, crowding is inevitable in closed spaces. It’s up to you if you’re willing to risk fresh air for a few hours — or maybe even a limb.