In 2013, party drug shows with a side of music

 

ÒPLEASE, everyone… BE RESPONSIBLE!?,Ó music producer and DJ Zedd tweeted Aug. 28 after the second night of his Moment of Clarity tour stop in Boston was cut short due to the death of a 19 year-old New Hampshire woman.

ÒThis scene is amazing because of the music and the people, not drugs. Dance music is about celebrating life,Ó Tiesto tweeted at the beginning of the month after the third and final day of the Electric Zoo Music Festival was cancelled in New York City after two twenty-something year old attendees died.

For a genre of music so purportedly geared toward celebrating life, deathsÑin no small numberÑ have recently been making headlines on the electronic dance music (EDM) circuit, causing both its producers and listeners to address the problems of drug usage at music festivals, and among young people in general.

EDM culture, sharing prominence in with countless other styles of music, has had a big presence in Vermont and especially in Burlington where students from the University and Champlain can be seen at any given festival or major show on the East Coast. Even locally, however, party drug culture rears its head every once in awhile, causing Seven Days to publish an article last week titled ÒThereÕs Such A Thing As Too Much Ecstasy: ItÕs Called Molly.Ó

Fallfest is an example of a music event that had a successful run with no arrests or reports of drug abuse last weekend. University juniors Trey Schibli and Theo Klein who opened the event under the name Argonaut and Wasp, said they donÕt support the use of party drugs like ecstasy and ÒMollyÓ, a powdered form of ecstasyÕs main chemical MDMA.

ÒI feel like, as an artist, I would have a better relationship with my fan-base without the drug, because I would be developing non artificial relationships through my music, but really pure and intense personal connections through sharing,Ó Klein said.

When asked how recent arrests and deaths at EDM events had influenced the University Program Board (UPB)Õs decision to invite artists Griz and 3Lau to headline Fallfest, senior and UPB member Alex McVarish said keeping students safe was a priority.

ÒWe always strive to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all our patrons,Ó McVarish wrote in an email last week.

But while University supported music events have gone off without a hitch, recent incidents such as the Sept. 21 arrest of a UVM student and the aftermath of last OctoberÕs Barstool Blackout Tour suggest that the conversation is far from over.

Sophomore Sid Hammer was arrested in his University Heights South dorm room after Police Services found evidence of LSD packets, MDMA crystals and oxycodone pills more than a week ago. Hammer told police he had purchased the drugs from a bit coin-operated website known as the Silk Road, a web marketplace that the police report described as the Òamazon.com of illegal drugs.Ó

Last October, Barstool Blackout Tour made a stop at downtownÕs Memorial Auditorium, an rave style dance party that included nearly 2,400 attendees and a slew of problems including arrests for underage drinking, vandalized bathrooms and overcrowding. Calling the event Òout of controlÓ, Weinberger said in an Oct. 22 press conference that there was no chance there would be a repeat on city-owned property.

ÒI can tell you unequivocally the Barstool Blackout Tour will not be returning to Memorial Auditorium in February,Ó Weinberger said.

Fast-forward a year, and people are still figuring out what EDM is, what it represents and how it possibly went wrong at some point.

Junior Caroline Mariz said she recognizes these considerations, but noted that any music ÒsceneÓ has aspects good and bad.

ÒItÕs definitely true that drug use has become a lot more prevalent, but hopefully the main message of peace, unity, love and respect shines through,Ó she said. ÒThereÕs a big difference between going to a concert to listen to music and have a good time versus using it as an excuse to get messed up.Ó