Written by Tommie Sunshine
On Wednesday, June 25th, an Avicii concert at the TD Garden in Boston hit every news source. As the temperature inside the venue skyrocketed, the media coverage went spiraling out of control. Being the opening night of his US and European tour, TV and newspapers in Boston took the opportunity to dig their claws into the incident. They provoked a media-fueled “hysteria” much like the response to Rock & Roll music that first took root in the U.S. during the 1950’s.
Before I even address what happened that night, I would first like to point out that the following day, the Boston Globe published a piece including text about a Zedd show last August in which they say, “A 19-year-old woman died at that concert of a suspected overdose of Molly. Two others at the concert were also treated for apparent overdoses.” Can someone please explain to me how words like “suspected” and “apparent” can be used 10 months after the occurrence to describe an incident?
I’m no forensic expert, but I’m pretty sure there is sufficient technology at this point to bring these inquiries to their conclusion, most certainly in 10 months time. Boston EMS Deputy Superintendent Michael Bosse presented the diagnosis of those hospital visits during the Avicii concert being, “Mostly heat and alcohol related symptoms.” He then stated, “There was a lot of underage drinking tonight and some illicit drugs. However, we can't identify anything specific.” The Boston Globe portrayed that, “dozens of teenage ravers were hospitalized.” The Boston Globe also reported concert-goers were treated "after consuming a dangerous substance.” None of these drug claims have been proven since, I feel this is targeted media hysteria and I’m here to call it out.
If you spent any time reading up on this as I did, the reports are all rather conflicting. The only thing all the Boston media seemed to agree on was that Avicii played a “techno show” in Boston that night. This truly shows how far off the mark they are from understanding anything about EDM, even on a superficial level. Avicii’s concert at the TD Garden in Boston wasn’t a rave, and it wasn’t a club night; there was no EDM festival in Boston that evening. Live Nation booked a tour stop for Avicii at a concert venue large enough to hold someone of his popularity level.
Throughout almost every ticket holder interview I read in the endless pieces that covered the event, I noticed two main complaints: the crushing heat inside the venue, and how difficult security made it for kids to get on and off the main floor in order to get water, even if many said they couldn’t even breath while down there. “Cooling off” areas were set up, and as most of us weren’t there, we have no idea how easy they were to find or to maneuver to through the crowd. I personally spoke to one woman who was there that night and she left early because of how “poorly organized it was and the harmful atmosphere that came to be as a result of it.” If venues can’t properly look after us, then we need to step up and look after each other. It is our collective duty to look around and make sure that not only our friends are alright, but that the people we don’t know are also healthy as well. All of this is still a learning curve of all of us, as indoor, local events of this size are still new to the EDM scene in America.
McKenzie Ridings, social media manager for Boston Public Health Commission, told Rolling Stone that a "Level 2 Mass Casualty" incident was declared, which Boston EMS uses to "notify area hospitals of the potential for 11-30 incoming patients and allow for them to be prepared for that influx." But the kicker here is that Michael Bosse, deputy superintendent for Boston EMS, said that many of the concertgoers attending TD Garden on Wednesday showed up intoxicated and several needed hospitalization; a worker at the TD Garden said there was "vomit everywhere.” The Boston Police Licensing Division cited TD Garden for allowing intoxicated concertgoers to enter.
I can’t imagine why this all sounds familiar; oh wait, “adults” in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s tailgate & enter that stadium after drinking endlessly, pre-gaming there for Bruins or Celtics games for almost 20 years now. Why would the security that night know any different? In my experience of going out in the many cities I’ve lived in for 20+ years, I’ve gathered one thing about security; muscle gets you work. I wouldn’t have expected anyone working that event to understand the unique situation they were in. This was not only a breakthrough act that is typically playing outdoors, but the crowd that showed up also wasn’t well-versed in managing their health in those conditions or atmosphere. Last time I checked, usually no one sans the players at Bruins or Celtics games at TD Garden do much more than stand up, sit down, or make a few trips for food or the restroom. Avicii had that whole stadium dancing for hours on a hot summer night - of course it was hot in there.
The typically collegiate aspect of this incident was that the EMS workers at the show said the injuries were primarily as a result of dehydration, alcohol and drug use. Now I’m not here to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do; I believe in personal responsibility. But I play in Boston many times a year, and with 102 colleges within 50 miles of the city, it is common for the shows there to get more rowdy than most. NV Concepts, who I always play for, is always on alert for kids in trouble, as they have people out in the crowd solely making sure that everyone is alright and that everyone who attends their events is protected the best they can. I’m not saying that this didn’t happen at the Avicii concert, but the size of that venue is exponentially larger than any club I’ve ever played at in Boston, so when you have more people with less experience in that level of excitement, problems are naturally going to arise.
Today, there is no other EDM act that has anywhere near this kind of draw in the cities they play in. Avicii’s single “Wake Me Up” is the most streamed song ever in the existence of Spotify. Avicii is no longer a DJ/producer, he’s a Pop star and a celebrity; Madonna, Coldplay and Ralph Lauren all in tow. The majority of the people that are coming to see him are not clubbers, ravers, or even “night-life enthusiasts.” These are working class people and kids who hear his songs on the radio and want to go out and have some fun. To pin this on our culture is simply wrong.
The media needs to do better than this. I know we live in a social climate where chaos gets “clicks,” but misrepresenting OUR culture is something that we all need to stand up for and fight against. If we stand by idly as this all goes down, the media will paint us all to be apathetic, wasted screw-ups which as a whole we are not. Right now, it’s beyond important to make sure that you & your circle of friends behave in an exemplary and safe manner, as this is the moment where those who do not understand us will try to dismantle what we’ve spent over three decades creating. If we abide by PLUR and live a life full of Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect, then it really isn’t far out of reach for us as a culture.
At this point, these things should come naturally and none of us should have to try. What we do confuses people who look in from the outside. They have no idea what all of this means to us; how could they? A portrait of ourselves is being painted by the media and we need to take back the sensationalism and the hype of that narrative so our story is told accurately and truthfully. This is the duty shared now by all of us who care about the future of our music and our culture. I leave you all with a single thought: how do you want our generation and our music to be remembered? This is within our control in entirety, and do not forget that - ever.
It should be noted that this piece was written for another website the day after these events took place but their connection to Live Nation prevented them from running my words above. What you’ve just read is 95% the same as what was rejected with only things added for clarity, nothing has been removed. This was the first time I encountered censorship in regards to our culture and I very much appreciate EDM.com for stepping up and running this piece so you all could read it.
Tommie Sunshine's third installment of his "Sunshine Forecast" mix has been exclusively provided through EDM.com before its public release on Monday. Dedicated fans can expect a private e-mail containing the exclusive link to the mix, as it will be available on Tommie's public SoundCloud come Monday.
Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of EDM.com.
[H/T: Boston Globe, Rolling Stone]
Cover photo credit: Rukes