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Death By Avicii, or the Dangerous Mayhem of EDM Club Shows

The Avicii debacle in Boston last night is the latest in a growing tide of hospitalizations and arrests at smaller-scale EDM concerts.

Last night, over 36 people—many of them underage kids—were carted out on stretchers from an Avicii show at Boston's TD Garden. Drugs and alcohol problems were cited as the leading cause for these hospitalizations; the high number of medical issues prompted officials to declare a Phase 2 Mass Casualty Incident.

According to the Boston Globe, concertgoers leaving the party early complained of a packed and dangerously overheated dance floor.  One such concertgoer told reporters, "You get really hot in there and you just pass out. You couldn't breathe. It was claustrophobic. People get dehydrated." Meanwhile, 19-year-old Mike Santostefano said he saw "a lot of people who couldn't handle themselves. People who don't do drugs come here and do drugs."


While it's baffling how "Wake Me Up" and "LE7ELS" are still inspiring anyone—especially fickle teenagers—to go ham on everything, this is not the first time that an Avicii concert has been plagued by wailing ambulances and passed out teens. In May, at least 29 people were hospitalized during an Avicii show at Toronto's Rogers Centre. Similar to the Boston incident, paramedic reported that concertgoers were getting sick even before Avicii got on stage—probably due to excessive pre-gaming.

In August of 2013, another Avicii show in Glasgow was described by local news coverage as "an orgy of drink and drug-fueled violence," prompting nearly 30 arrests—and numerous reports of teen-on-teen violence.

Trouble has followed Avicii to his shows in American college towns, too. In April of 2012, 22 people were hospitalized during a concert in the Conneticut's Webster Bank Arena. When he played at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, 32 people and two juveniles were arrested with charges of public intoxication, assault on a police officer, criminal trespassing, theft and even an alleged arson attempt. And in November 2012, 34 people were cited at an Avicii concert at Penn State, including 30 for underage drinking.

Of course, Avicii is not alone in his ability to incite the youth to dangerous levels of intoxication—mass arrests and hospitalizations have plagued many other EDM artists as well. A 19-year-old girl died and two others were sent to the hospital in serious condition from apparent drug overdoses at a Zedd concert in Boston last year; 14 people were arrested and six hospitalized after a Steve Aoki show at Cal Poly; two deaths and 19 hospitalizations were reported after a massive EDM concert at Comcast Center headlined by Eric Prydz, Excision, Wolfgang Gartner, Nero, and Paul van Dyk.


All of these reports only add to the growing concern that fatalities, violence and widespread hospitalizations go hand-in-hand with EDM ragers. But while festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival, Electric Zoo, and Ultra have borne the brunt of media scrutiny and public tongue-lashings—EDC in 2010, Electric Zoo in 2013, Ultra in 2014 when the mayor of Miami threatened to kick the festival of the city—club shows, perhaps because of their smaller scale, have not drawn the same level of ire… so far. But as the number of complaints and concern over shows like Avicii's recent Boston debacle creep towards an inevitable tipping point, it's likely that EDM concerts and shows will start facing the same public shellackings and restrictions that their larger-scale cousins are already fighting.

Michelle Lhooq rode around Miami in an Avicii-themed golf cart one time - @MichelleLhooq

For more tales of catastrophes in EDM land: 

36 People Hospitalized During Avicii's Boston Show Last Night

Toronto Just Banned Electronic Dance Music Concerts on its Public Grounds

Ultra Will Stay In Miami… For Now