What has been an unusually lethal summer for dance-music fans looks like it may turn into an equally tragic autumn. A 30-year-old man is dead and five other people were hospitalized following the opening of Manchester, England’s Warehouse Project party last night, reports BBC News. A police spokesperson said they believe the drug ecstasy to be the cause, although no more concrete information was given. A press release from the Greater Manchester Police said, “Police were also made aware that five people have been admitted to hospital feeling unwell after taking a controlled drug.” Detective Inspector Aaron Duggan told BBC News, “It is possible that there may be a particularly bad batch of drugs out there in the community and that is a concern to us.”
The event promoters posted a statement to their Facebook page this morning in which they offered their condolences and assured their cooperation with the ongoing police enquiry. Repeating the event’s zero-tolerance party regarding drugs, they urged attendees who might be feeling unwell after taking drugs to alert staff members, adding, “There is a team of trained medics on site every night, and you will be treated on the premises initially. Please don’t wait to get help. Tell someone as soon as you can.”
Drugs — specifically, “Molly,” or MDMA, and even more specifically, more dangerous drugs that have presumably been passed off as MDMA — have been blamed for numerous concertgoers’ deaths this year. Two people died after New York’s Electric Zoo festival over Labor Day weekend; according to toxicology reports reported by the New York Times, one died from acute intoxication after taking pure MDMA, and the other a “fatal mix” of MDMA and methylone, a common adulterant in Molly, the street name for MDMA in powdered form. The same weekend, a 17-year-old was in critical condition after collapsing at El Paso’s Sun City Music Festival; police suspected that she had taken Molly. In late August, Zedd’s tour kickoff ended with one dead and two hospitalized following suspected overdoses at a concert at Boston’s House of Blues. The Boston Globe reported that the deceased woman began convulsing uncontrollably while resting in a stairwell; another man was found bleeding from the head, unaware how he had hurt himself, and asking, “Am I injured? Am I injured?”
Days later, police were investigating three suspected overdoses following a Sound Tribe Sector 9 concert at Boston’s Bank of America Pavilion. Earlier this month, in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, eight people who had attended a Barstool Blackout event — a travellng series of rave-themed, college-aged, booze-fueled foam parties whose official anthem goes, “All I do is fuck and party” — were admitted to the emergency room following suspected Molly overdoses. And in early August, a 14-year-old Santa Fe girl died after taking five doses of what she thought was Molly before entering a foam party at the Albuquerque fairgrounds, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican. When she died in the emergency room, her heartbeat was measured between 230 and 240 beats per minute, more than double the normal rate.
And that’s just in the United States. A 23-year-old man died and 14 were hospitalized for drug-related reactions following Australia’s Defqon.1 festival, earlier in September. By July, Scotland’s death toll from dodgy pills — possibly with green Rolex crown logos on them — numbered seven, prompting police to issue a warning regarding “green, white or yellow pills with Rolex, Mitsubishi or star logos.” Two weeks ago, an 18-year-old woman from Merseyside, England died from what the police suspect were Scottish “Rockstar” pills.
In some of these cases, drugs may not actually be the cause of death. A 21-year-old man who died at Los Angeles’ HARD Summer festival turned out to have succumbed to a heart attack resulting from a preexisting condition, Marfan syndrome. In Stroudsburg, neither police nor hospital spokespeople offered any evidence for the local media’s “overdose” claims; a spokesperson at the Pocono Medical Center told SPIN that the patients “were brought here as a result of drug activity or alcohol,” but offered no more specific information.
Nevertheless, the high number of drug-related incidents at predominantly electronic-music events is sparking a cry from some corners to shut down dance-music events. Last week, an EDM-themed food fight at the Nassau Coliseum was canceled after the venue’s booking and marketing manager “got a little concerned” following the deaths at Electric Zoo. This week, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst cited concerns about Molly in its decision to cancel concerts by Above & Beyond and Pretty Lights, prompting Kaskade to lash out on Twitter, complaining, “You guys, I don’t know the answer. I just know the WRONG ANSWERS when I see them. There are so many wrong answers right now.”
Launched in 2006, the Warehouse Project is an annual, 12-week event series held in various venues around the greater Manchester Area. Last night’s opening party, held at the Victoria Warehouse, kicked off the season with a lineup featuring Axwell, Armand van Helden, Mark Knight, Thomas Gold, and Axwell, among others. As of this morning, it appeared that tonight’s event, with a house-heavy cast including Carl Craig, Loco Dice, Seth Troxler, Joy Orbison, and Maceo Plex, was still set to go forward.