Who Cares About the Music aka The Gaudy Garishness of Festival VIP Culture
In his time as a journalist, The Prophet has been lucky enough to experience both sides of the VIP red velvet rope, Ibiza, Germany, London, and across mainland Europe. Unfortunately, he believes that the current red velvet arrogance of VIP culture is crushing the inspiration that once brought the underground nature of electronic music together.
The very inspiration behind a musical revolution. Our revolution. The dance revolution.
Take for instance, The Prophet's most recent assignment in Romania at Untold Festival, an absolutely spectacular experience. Truly remarkable, from the layout, to the passion of the festival workers, and this year it all took place within the European 'Lucifer Heatwave'. It wouldn't be an over-exaggeration to compare Untold to the greatest fever dream you've ever had.
It's almost impossible to sufficiently describe the complete awe inspiring wonder of watching a near six hour Armin Van Buuren trance set enclosed within a cauldron like stadium, surrounded by tens of thousands of similarly minded fans. With the sun kissing your shoulders as it rises into the sky, this was Untold Festival in Transylvania.
However magical this experience was, two days before at the same festival, an incident shocked The Prophet into a moment of sheer, brutal, crystal clear clarity. Instantaneously granting a vision of just how far dance music had moved away from its underground roots and succumbed to its own self indulgence.
Mingling on his own in the VIP section as he sometimes finds himself. The Prophet quietly watched the Main Stage, notepad in hand, pleasantly lost in his own world of electronic music, absorbing the atmosphere, securely content in the belief that at that moment there was nowhere in the universe he would rather be.
Innocuously placing his notepad on a table, The Prophet, within thirty seconds had found himself person non gratis, being succinctly told in no uncertain terms that this relatively unremarkable table was reserved. A table without seats, reserved signs or even any human beings within a five foot vicinity. Quite stunned, The Prophet offered an apology for invading any unknown social boundaries, but was immediately ignored, blankly, blindly and directly to his face.
To say the The Prophet reeled in rage from this moment of incredulity would be ungrateful, he was being paid to review a festival thousands of miles from his home, in an industry that he loves, while listening to a style of music that he has devoted a large portion of his life toward. Rather than feeling a moment of fleeting anger The Prophet simply felt a sledgehammering instance of utter sadness.
The Prophet had never even crossed paths with whomever's reserved table he had regrettably put his notepad on, never had the chance to talk to them, ask them how they were enjoying the festival, share a laugh, share a collective love for the music. Rather, The Prophet was deemed less than their equal, and was dealt with accordingly.
To The Prophet, that single moment alone summed up everything wrong with the current generation of dance music fans. Of course there has always been a VIP crowd, and there's no denying that everyone granted the opportunity likes to enjoy moments of grandeur, but if at the expense of treating someone else like a human being? Then all is lost.
Rather than the one true belief that we can rise above all creed, colour, and class. Music now finds itself divided into have's and have not's.
As he stood on the pitch two days after that saddening event, stargazing at Armin Van Buuren as he welled up on the decks while simultaneously tearing up the main stage. The Prophet, notepad in hand, watched as random stranger genuinely and openly embraced random stranger, each overwhelmed with the sheer pure beauty and joy they collectively felt, glanced over at the ants in the VIP section, and couldn't believe how lifeless it seemed, plenty of people but very little soul or energy.
It was clear to The Prophet in that moment that the Very Important Person section, didn't really care that Armin Van Buuren, one of the greatest DJ's of all time, was performing one of the greatest trance sets of all time.
The reality is, while Armin put his heart and soul into his Untold set, the Very Important People were each spending way too long trying to capture that perfect 'instant' selfie, and on multiple occasions during the course of the evening almost certainly checked how many people had liked their 'Check In' on social media.
Shaking his head The Prophet veered away from viewing the VIP section and instead turned toward the stranger beside him, pointing to his wrist and the area where his watch would be, he next pointed to the rising sun and finally forward toward Armin Van Buuren in the throes of his iconic six hour set.
Shaking their heads in amazement and with only the universal language of music between them, The Prophet and the stranger both broke into laughter.
Sadly it was a laughter that many in the VIP section would never understand.