Why It Was a Mistake to Shut Down Electric Zoo
The deaths of two people at Electric Zoo (or “Ezoo”) is obviously tragic, but closing down the festival due to the danger of drug overdoses makes about as much sense as closing down a highway because of a fatal car accident. For those who don’t know, Electric Zoo is an annual electronic music festival that has taken place every summer on Randall’s Island since 2009. On Saturday, August 31, 2 attendees died and 4 were placed in emergency care due to the use of MDMA (also known as Molly or Ecstasy), although exact causes of death have yet to be established. Some of the DJs scheduled to perform were Sabastiona Ingrosso, Steve Aoki and Laidback Luke.
People are going to take risks and do stupid things, especially at crowded public events. Those who choose to participate should accept the risk and behave responsibly. No one is served by blind panic that does nothing to address the root causes of such tragedies. Closing EZoo for one day serves little purpose. It will not bring back the dead or educate people about the dangers of MDMA. It is simply a way to make ourselves feel better, with little regard for the consequences.
Aside from disappointing all those who have done nothing wrong and have no plans to do drugs, cancelling a concert festival is a huge blow to promoters, who must bear the costs. Those who attended All Points West, a music festival that gathered such big names as Radiohead, Tool and Jay-Z, may recall that bad weather played a significant role in leading to the permanent cancellation of the event, depriving New Yorkers of a rare opportunity to see an array of high-profile acts performing in one venue for an affordable price.
In the case of Ezoo, no unavoidable natural event or safety hazard necessitated cancellation. While there is not yet sufficient information on the deaths to make a final judgment, it appears that a combination of bad judgment and bad luck are to blame. In other words, human error. Concert venues cannot and should not be responsible for protecting people from themselves. The individual enjoyment and cultural enrichment derived from large music events stretches back through human history and far outweighs the rare instances of tragedy.
To many, going to see live music is an experience that borders on the religious. To give up or limit this vital form of human enrichment simply because something bad could conceivably happen, provided all reasonable measures are taken to limit risk, is simply lunacy. Imagine a world where Woodstock was cancelled because someone had a bad acid trip and did something that led to his or her death. That kind of world, defined by fear and hypersensitive to the risks inherent in living life to the fullest, is not one that we should want to live in.