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EDM Festivals, Like Beyond Wonderland, Are Markers Of Generational Shifts, Changing Tastes

In Music
Every generation has had a DJ Snake and a song that has asked, in one way or another: ‘Turn down for what?’

Every generation has had a DJ Snake and a song that has asked, in one way or another: ‘Turn down for what?’

DJ Snake, who along with Lil John, created one of the most unabashedly, antagonistic party anthems in recent memory, will be headlining the Beyond Wonderland electronic music festival this Saturday. That song, “Turn Down for What,” exhorts listeners to keep the volume pumped, both literally and figuratively—as “turned up,” or “turnt,” in the parlance of our times, has become slang for getting wasted, reckless and otherwise partying hard.

But if last year’s Beyond Wonderland event was any indication, there will be plenty of Mountain View residents who will wish the festival would turn down. According to a report by the Mercury News, locals made around 130 complaints about noise in 2013—many of them related to the deep bass produced by electronic acts like DJ Snake and Kaskade who will be performing this year.

As for figuratively turning down, it would seem that was also an issue last year. More than 100 people were arrested at the 2013 Beyond Wonderland—many of them for drug-related offenses. According to Saul Jaeger of the Mountain View Police Department, officers will be on high alert this weekend (though he insists that is standard practice for any event this size and has nothing to do with the type of music being played).

Yet, as parents wring their hands over the perceived threat of EDM and as homeowners shake their fists at their rattling windows, the genre is only growing in popularity.

EDM, it seems, isn’t going away. And that’s understandable. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that establishment critics and parents everywhere were scowling and disapproving of hip-hop. Before that there was punk. And before the older Baby Boomers were finding the sounds of The Sex Pistols too caustic, their parents were telling them that real music was made by composers and performed by symphonies or big bands.

Mark Applebaum, an associate professor of composition and theory in the department of music at Stanford, teaches a course titled “Rock, Sex and Rebellion.”

Applebaum says that it’s not uncommon for hysteria to erupt around certain genres of music and the styles, philosophies and other cultural tenets that attach themselves to a given scene—especially when that scene is the new, younger kid on the block. In fact, such hysteria is cyclical and to be expected.

“I have a sense that every generation hopes they die before they get old,” Applebaum says. “And then they get old, and then they are somehow disenfranchised and they don’t recognize cultural currents that are so important to younger generations. For that group it’s deeply alienating and troubling to see a younger group who care about things that are different than those things that they cared about. It is simultaneously a puissant reminder of their own mortality. That can’t be fun.”

Beyond Wonderland is this weekend at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. More info.

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