Everyone remembers Woodstock, except those who were actually there. It was a watershed moment. Hundreds of thousands of young rock music fans gathered in a field in the Catskills. Nothing like it had ever happened before.
Was it a success? Well, there was a lot of dehydration, lineups for water, bad hallucinogens and wet, mucky misery. But no one was killed or seriously injured. That alone was a miracle.
The huge-mob-in-a-field concert has become a persistent trend. It’s not the best setting for good views or acoustics. And it’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea.
But a generation after the big 1969 experiment, music fans are still in love with the al fresco love-in.
Standards, however, have changed. And no one should have to stand for water shortages or overcrowding — especially when you’ve paid a premium price to avoid it.
Last weekend’s Salmon Festival in Grand Falls-Windsor was rife with complications. Several of those who attended are outraged with the poor planning.
The number of onsite concession stands was limited, so lineups for water stretched into the hundreds. Then, around late afternoon, vendors actually ran out of the precious liquid — as temperatures exceeded
As well, patrons who paid a hefty surplus to be in the “VIP” section were shocked to discover it had been oversold. At least two or three times as many people were crammed into the area, causing a lot of tension and even fear among some of those attending.
But the water situation was the most galling.
Like many big-ticket events, the cost of paying millions of dollars to musical superstars trickles down across the board. Caterers insist that all patrons be banned from bringing in their own supplies, forcing them to buy drinks at outrageous prices. Numerous containers of water and other beverages were confiscated and dumped at the gate.
This is understandable when it comes to alcohol. It can be justified, at least, as a mob control measure.
But water? It seems dystopian.
There’s always a risk that outdoor mega-concerts can go wrong. The crowds can get rowdy, the weather might not co-operate. The entertainment could simply flop.
But when an event like this turns into something akin to a refugee camp, organizers have truly fallen down on the job. It’s reported several people passed out and had to be carried away. It could have been a lot worse.
There should be stricter limits — or even a ban
— on granting a monopoly to sell something so basic and essential to human life.