The Austin Chronicle


By Abby Johnston, August 28, 2014, 4:20pm, Earache!

Over Labor Day weekend last year, the third and final afternoon of New York’s Electric Zoo festival was cancelled after two people died in drug-related incidents. This Friday through Sunday, the EDM gathering crusades to keep the genre’s hallmark drug, MDMA, at bay by making attendees watch a two-minute PSA before their wristbands are activated.

Unlike most anti-drug campaigns, this one’s accurate in portraying a night with “Molly.” Credit Dexter creator James Manos, Jr., who wrote and directed the spot. Takes a pro to make such a beautifully-produced spot.

Basically, a guy runs into a girl that he knows. He takes a shit-ton of the drug, starts sweating all over the place, and freaks out. When he emerges from inside of his lazer-light-addled brain, she and all of the bumping beats are gone.

Oh, but not before he makes her promise that they’re going to “hook-up” later.

While I find it problematic that Electric Zoo needs to threaten would-be rollers with sexless weekends to stop them from doing drugs, it’s an interesting, updated approach to tackling a pervasive problem for EDM freaks. Not that it will work. The most gnarly security I’ve ever encountered was at Austin’s first Nocturnal Fest, the all-night EDM rage held way out at Apache Pass.

I recall several different checkpoints where my bag and person were searched. Seriously, this was on par with the TSA. And I knew exactly what they were looking for, too. Did that stop anyone from spending a night tripping around on a field with a whimsical set-up? Nope.

That’s the problem when you design an entire genre into a high-octane pleasure cruise. It becomes associated with the substance that can get you there. In this instance, it isn’t just the music, but the elaborate light shows and altogether other-worldliness of the festivals.

It’s an issue worth addressing, to be sure. Yet I think Electric Zoo needs to look further into it if they want to effect real change happen. This problem was created by promoters, and they’re not going to reverse it in two minutes.

Copyright © 2022 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.