( I want to start off by saying that I truely enjoyed this years Paradiso and it was honestly one of the best put together events USC has done in recent times. The issues described in here are less on USC's side and more Live Nation's management of their venue. I hope this article helps make progress and improvements at future USC and Live Nation events as well at next years Paradiso! )
Paradiso; the Northwest’s largest electronic festival. This year marked the third year that USC Events has put on the spectacular event at The Gorge in Eastern Washington. To some, this was a return to Paradise after a long year’s wait. To others, it was their first time stepping into the celebration that is Paradiso. With so many people flocking to this sold out festival, USC Events and Live Nation set out to create the safest festival possible with the fewest hitches. However, as most of you know, there were some issues that arose across the two days of Paradiso that caused a lot of discomfort and stress to festival attendees. Let us take a look at exactly what happened and how USC and Live Nation could improve on things for future events at The Gorge and at venues across Washington.
First off, most people were extremely angry at how the lines were handled day two. I personally did not have line issues as I had a press pass, but the rest of my group did have to wait three hours in line and ended up missing Tritional and Mat Zo because of it. Needless to say we were all annoyed at the conditions the lines were in.
Besides the fact that they were an unorganized mess up until a certain point where railing began and that everyone zerg rushed the lines at the same time creating an unorganized sea of people all pushing forward for the gates, the line attendants and Live Nation security around the lines was minimal to say the least. When I walked by the sea of people to the press entrance, I was surprised at just how unorganized and chaotic it looked. There were people looking overheated everywhere and the general mood of the crowd was one of annoyance. I heard stories from people saying how there was no water, no personnel from The Gorge to help when people fainted from the heat, and rumors of guards just not caring in general.
Obviously there needs to be a change here. The situation at The Gorge was much like Freaknight 2012, where the lines were absolutely ridiculous. That being said however, the fact that Freaknight 2013 went so well and lines have generally not been issues at recent USC events gives me hope for future change and growth with Paradiso. With a few small but meaningful changes, USC could make the next Paradiso run much smoother, and even better prepare for when things don’t go as smoothly as planned.
Add Shade/Covering For The Entry Line
This should really be a no brainer. Why can’t we get large temporary coverings that could span across the grass? The fact that there are two separate entrances that both have relatively small widths to them provides a perfect area to stretch coverings to block sun/rain from the people waiting in line. This would protect and shelter the festival attendees from rain or shine, which the Gorge gets both usually at Paradiso, and really ease the waiting process. That being said the fences and gates should be extended some too. The set up the past two years has simply been too short for the amount of people swarming into The Gorge. Water misters could also be a wonderful addition to the entry lines. They would keep people cool and refreshed in the sun, and honestly now, who doesn’t love a mister?
Conscious Crew Present At Entry Line
The Conscious Crew was by far the most noticeable addition to Paradiso this year. Their presence was felt and people strongly reacted to them. When you saw those orange shirts coming your way you got super excited and ready for some refreshing water. I saw Conscious Crew members everywhere providing relief from the heat across the event grounds. I really want to praise USC for organizng such an effective system to keep their event attendees safe and hydrated and I want to personally thank each and every volunteer who gave up their time to keep their fellow ravers safe and cool.
Their effort had such an effect inside, they should also be stationed outside for the lines. They would really only be needed during peak entry times, otherwise they can all be inside providing relief to the festival attendees. Having people on sight to help and watch out for festival goers in need would have drastically lowered the amount of incidents of heat exhaustion and people withering in the sun. I would recommend creating lanes for people to funnel into with space in-between for Conscious crew to be able to maneuver down far into the crowd waiting to enter. This way they could reach people who went on the inside lanes as well as the outside ones.
Add More Entry Points
There were simply too few entry points for the amount of people trying to squeeze into The Gorge. Adding a handful more entry points would ensure a cleaner ticketing and search process. There was a large stretch of grass to the left of the gates that was simply fenced off and could have been additional gates. Also, putting up signs showing exactly where all the entries are and how the lines work would create clarity for people attending. Even for the press entrance, I had a hard time finding the unmarked dirt road where I was supposed to enter. Clarity is key when organizing a lot of people, and simply there was not enough with the lines.
Consistency With Guards
There were varying stories of what guards were and were not permitting into The Gorge. Some guards were taking Sunblock while others were letting it through but denying Chap Stick. This creates frustration with attendees as things they were told that were allowed in were suddenly being confiscated. With so much controversy already around the last minute changes to what you could and could not bring (still not happy about the gloves USC/Live Nation) the additional issues caused by guards not following a consistent guideline of what was and was not allowed really angered attendees who had just waited through a three hour line only to have items taken from them. Next year, there needs to be a known list that guards will follow and there needs to be more lenience to what can be brought in. The fact that sunscreen was even potentially banned shows that whoever is making the banned items list needs to realize that banning everything is not the solution. The people who want to smuggle things in will find a way no matter what. Do not jeopardize festival goer’s safety and health in the search for the molly.
This is all without even mentioning that the level of personal invasion suffered by some festival goers this year was a bit over the top. People reported multiple accounts of overzealous searches by guards who, for most, got a bit too personal with their search and borderline inappropriate. There needs to be a line that is not crossed in personal space when entering a festival. If the TSA doesn’t do it, neither should you. And realistically the TSA doesn’t pat down people that intensely or invasively on everyone passing through the airport. Yes, someone will probably tape some coke to their junk at some point, but that doesn’t mean the other 8,000 men attending are doing likewise. And I am sorry, but there is no reason to search people that intensely for going into a festival. Live Nation needs to tone back their search policy a tad to ensure people do not feel uncomfortable when passing through the gates.
Overall Paradiso was a massive success. 90% of the issues people encountered happened outside the festival while waiting in line. Once inside, festival attendees were met with a wonderland of music, strange performers, and good vibes. Live Nation needs to step up its act for next year’s Paradiso Festival. There needs to be more staff on hand at the gates and throughout the event ready to help needy festival goers. USC should help assist in this process and aid to the shade issues outside, and maybe the gates. Placing the Conscious Crew at the lines would also help discomfort when entering. If some basic changes are made, next year’s Paradiso will turn out to be even better than this years, which most people are hailing as the best year yet. Let’s hope progress and growth can be made so that everyone is happier, less frustrated, and focused more on the reason we go to Paradiso in the first place; to enjoy electronic music at the most beautiful outdoor venue in the world!
Want a full event review for Paradiso?! Check out the link below!