The Future of Music Festivals in NYC

Written By Olivia Smedley | October 18, 2013

A month after drug related deaths occurred at the Electric Zoo festival, the city is still making decisions on the future of E-Zoo and of other festivals that take place in its parks.

The festival, that took place on Randall’s Island, was cut a day short when two concert-goers overdosed on popular club drugs. Another festival in the park that took place in 2012, GoogaMooga, also caused an uproar because damage done to the island rendered it closed for two weeks.

The true problem, however, is drug use. Club drugs have been found in underground raves for decades, but now their use is more out in the open. Since this past march, there have been at least 7 deaths related to the drug MDMA. One of the victims was a 20 year old from Staten Island, who overdosed at a concert on Governor's Island. In 2010, a 15 year old died from the drug at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles. These deaths not only affect the victims and families, but the events themselves. Made Events, Insomniac, and other major companies that put on electronic dance festivals are concerned about getting dropped by their sponsors and investors. This would mean downsizing events, and in turn, less revenue.

With the electronic dance music craze at its mainstream peak, both festival attendees and djs alike believe that they are being unfairly targeted, as drug use is prominent in each music genre.

Most recently, The University of Massachusetts have canceled their two electronic concerts that were set to happen this weekend, featuring acts Above and Beyond and Pretty Lights. The university states that it is in fact due to drug use, and they are banning all electronic dance concerts in the future.

As of now, the city officials say it is likely that they won’t reach an ultimate decision on the life of these festivals for months. They believe that with the tightest security possible and the guarantee of a crackdown on drug use, it is quite possible that Electric Zoo will be able to stay on Randall’s Island. The main goal of the city is to figure out what went wrong at Electric Zoo, and implement a plan to make sure it doesn’t turn out as tragically as this year. There won’t be any broad changes to the current policies on festivals in parks, but things may be tweaked to regulate what exactly can and can’t happen at each venue. The Parks and Recreation Committee, similarly, is nervous that event planners will take advantage of parks, so they would like more insight into what is going on in each event they approve. The committee isn’t against the festivals, but want them to be conducted efficiently and safely.

Until a judgement is made, fans of EDM will have to continue to wait with bated breath to hear the fate of Electric Zoo.


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