Electronic dance music (EDM) festivals have earned an unwanted reputation as of late. Shows in Las Vegas, Brooklyn, Boston, and Washington saw dozens of concertgoers rushed to local hospitals, suffering from apparent drug overdoses. What’s worse, many of those victims died. And now Columbia, Maryland can add its name to the growing list of EDM overdose catastrophes.
Mad Decent Festival Not-So-Decent
The Mad Decent Block Party rolled into Columbia on August 1, featuring artists such as Diplo, Flux Pavilion and Dillon Francis. Before it was all over, the music festival saw a total of two overdose fatalities; two young men ages 17 and 20. Investigators say preliminary tests indicate MDMA is to blame for both deaths.
Family members of the 20-year-old victim suspect released a public statement, alleging the young man suffered a “toxic reaction to a drink that was handed to him by another concertgoer.” They suspect the beverage was spiked with a large dose of MDMA.
Another 20 Mad Decent Block Party attendees suffered serious drug-related symptoms, each requiring transport to the local hospital. Police also issued 50 citations for underage drinking and made three arrests – two for assault and a third for possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Howard County officials are investigating the apparent lapse of security and screening procedures at Merriweather Post Pavilion.
Molly and the EDM Culture
Affecting the brain’s pleasure centers, MDMA gives users:
- A huge burst of empathy towards others
- A sense of emotional openness
- Increased sensitivity to sounds, colors and touch
- Energy, allowing users to dance for hours
On the flip side, users rarely understand the negative effects of MDMA can include:
- Profuse sweating, leading to deadly dehydration
- Rapid heart rate
- Mouth ulcers
- An overwhelming rush of nervousness/uncertainty
Founder and Promoter React
Diplo, a founder of the Mad Decent Block Party, took to Twitter to address the deaths and hospitalizations. He wrote: “Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by yesterday's event.”
Concert promoter Seth Hurwitz, chairman of I.M.P. and operator of Merriweather Post Pavilion, on the other hand, released a statement that hits home for thousands of parents. "This particular type of incident is not the problem of those who should have known better...it's the problem of those too young to believe it could happen to them," he wrote. "Sadly we find ourselves in the classic position of trying to tell kids not to do something they think is fun."
Mad Decent Block Party photos via festival Facebook page