In a recent interview with USA Today, Tom Petty had nothing but harsh words to say about Electronic Dance Music, or in his words, “plastic computer music.” He said, “Watch people play records? That’s stupid. You couldn’t pay me to go. I’m not oversimplifying it.” He continued to antagonize the scene by proposing that live EDM events wouldn’t “be any fun without the drugs. It’s a drug party.” Electric Daisy Carnival was his case in point, with two deaths having occurred during this year’s gathering.
"You take that many kids to Vegas in the summer, what could go wrong?" Petty said. "I knew it as soon as I saw the ad. I went, 'Ooh, dead people.' Do you need the money so bad that you'll put some kid's life at risk?"
After lambasting the live music environment he assumed EDM to breed, Pasquale Rotella, the head honcho behind Insomniac gracefully reflected on Petty’s remarks:
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about records, DJs and dance music, including Tom Petty. We’re living in a very electronic era with constantly evolving forms of entertainment, which may be a daunting thing for a classic rocker in search of contemporary social relevancy as he starts promoting new music. But I would think that someone who played shows with Dylan and the Dead—someone who lived through and actively contributed to the counterculture era of the ’60s and ’70s—wouldn’t be so quick to drink the overhyped media Kool-Aid about our festival experience. If he wants to come to EDC Vegas next year and see what it’s really about, we’ve got a ticket with his name on it. If he doesn’t want to wait that long, Nocturnal Wonderland is right around the corner. My Mama Irene would be stoked to meet him! Who knows? He might just have a “Change of Heart.”
The fact that the man behind one of the most celebrated events in Electronic Dance Music was able to positively comment on the harsh accusations of a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is a solid win for the EDM community. Rotella’s response was a true reflection of the welcoming and understanding values that are so central to the vitality of this scene.
Instead of responding defensively, Rotella acknowledged Petty’s distaste and offered a different perspective on the scene, while also welcoming him to experience it for himself. Rotella’s response is a fantastic reminder that despite the misunderstandings both onlookers and participants may have about EDM, the fact remains that this is a scene with universally moral values keeping it anchored.
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