Remember the 1969 Woodstock music festival? Yeah, we don’t either. That particular music festival, characterized by overwhelming crowds, sex and drugs, was way before our time. The same sizeable audiences characterize some of today’s bigger music festivals, but drug use is not a free-for-all like it may have once been.
The 13th annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival finished last weekend, and as with most other music festivals in 2014, drug paraphernalia was not allowed on the premises. Of course, we are not so naïve that we would assume that no illicit drug use took place at the event, and of course nowadays beer gardens are fairly typical features of music festivals.
We were sad to learn of the first publicized overdose at Coachella, which came this year with the death of Kimchi Truong of Oakland, on April 17. Truong, 24, allegedly died from a drug or alcohol overdose at Coachella weekend one, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The cause of death, however, cannot be confirmed until the toxicology report is released.
The untimely death taints the fairly clean image that’s been promoted by music festivals in the 21st century, but we do not believe that it should set a new idea for what music festivals are like.
This is the first overdose at the Coachella festival to be publicized, although it is reported that the county coroner’s office does not track how many recent deaths have in fact been linked to Coachella in recent years, according to an article from KPCC. This may imply that there are more incidents of drug and/or alcohol abuse at the annual music festival, but we don’t have evidence to support such a claim.
Truong collapsed at the festival on April 12 and was unresponsive in the taxi line. She was taken to the medical tents on site, relocated to JFK Memorial Hospital, then transferred to Desert Regional Medical Center where she died 5 days later, according to the Riverside County Coroner’s office.
Truong’s friends are hiding from the press, not wanting to discuss the events that took place prior to her death, according to LA Weekly.
“We believe this to be an unfortunate, but isolated, incident,” said Coachella promoter, Goldenvoice, in an article from LA Times. “Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends.”
Goldenvoice has also released official public statements regarding the tragedy.
Because this incident is the first of its kind, we believe Goldenvoice’s statement about this being an isolated incident. Also, medical tents were located in each corner at Coachella this year, and free water was passed around to attendees in order to prevent dehydration. This makes us hopeful that not all Coachella attendees are exposed to the Woodstock-style drug-filled daze.
We do not promote drug culture, though we understand the historic pattern of drug use at music festivals.
More 2014 music festivals are fast approaching, including this weekend’s Stagecoach Festival, the Electronic Daisy Carnival, Lightning in a Bottle, Bonnaroo, Warped Tour and Outside Lands.
In light of the Coachella incident, we encourage future festival attendees to be responsible, and stay safe. Woodstock was glorious in its day, but we are a new generation, and we prefer to enjoy music responsibly.