Love Parade

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This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.

The Love Parade was an annual techno music festival in its twentieth year. Last Saturday, 21 people died at the event in Germany. Another 500 people were injured.

The concert took place in the western city of Duisburg. Hundreds of thousands of people were making their way from the main railway station through a 300-yard-long tunnel to the festival site. The police, fearful that the huge crowd would overwhelm the area, tried to seal off the exit of the tunnel. They used megaphones to drive the crowds back. But some in the crowd surged forward in excitement. The ensuing stampede caused the deaths and injuries.

While an investigation is still ongoing, it appears that there was only one access point to enter and leave the festival. With an estimated 1.4 million attendees, it’s hard to imagine just what the organizers and police were thinking.

Music festivals have a long history of massive attendance. In 1968, the organizers of Woodstock promised the small town of Bethel, New York that only 50,000 people would come to their concert. In the end, almost half a million arrived.

Perhaps that opened the door. There are now festivals for just about every style of music you can imagine and attendance numbers are rising. 2010 has been a great year for promoters: the Country Music Festival in Nashville, the Electric Daisy Carnival here in LA, even our beloved Coachella has broken ticket sales records.

It’s absurd to think that with all that money going to promoters, safety of the audience is not the primary concern. Houston – we gotta problem. Promoters should be held accountable, so we can get on with the business of enjoying the show. Do I really need to explain this?

2010 will be the last year of the Love Parade.

This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.