The folks behind Electric Zoo have confirmed the electronic music festival will return to Randall's Island this summer, despite the drug-related deaths of two attendees last year. This time around, organizers are promising some updated safety measures, like hiring plainclothes security guards who specialize in narcotics, free/cheap electrolytes available for purchase, and required PSAs pre-concert. Oh, and there will be drug-sniffing dogs stationed at all concert entrances. Only eight hours of DJ Tiesto could make this festival sound more fun.
The festival, planned for this Labor Day weekend, came under fire last year after 20-year old Olivia Rotondo and 23-year old Jeffrey Russ fatally overdosed on a drug containing MDMA. At least four other people were hospitalized, 31 were arrested and there was one reported sexual assault of a 16-year-old, leading to the cancellation of the festival's final day. Though Electric Zoo's future in the city was up in the air for a while, there were reports that organizers were lobbying City Hall in hopes of returning to Randall's Island, and it appears they've been successful.
"We are incredibly excited to bring Electric Zoo back to New York,” EZoo creators Mike Bindra and Laura De Palma said in a statement today. “Over the past five years, Electric Zoo has grown tremendously, becoming a critically acclaimed, internationally recognized music festival. The opportunity to again host Electric Zoo on Randall’s Island is a responsibility we take seriously, and we look forward to expanding our safety and security measures in order to further improve the concert experience for our fans.”
And so return the neon American Apparel manks and strobe lights, though it looks like they aren't kidding about tightening security. According to an email from the festival's publicists, updated measures include plainclothes security officers, background checks on vendors and employees, security surveys for ticket purchasers, a "highly visible" security presence inside the festival and the aforementioned drug-sniffing dogs (according to website TheDEA.org, which does not appear to be affiliated with the Drug Enforcement Agency, dogs can smell MDMA).
Attendees will also be required to watch a PSA about drug safety before getting their tickets validated, and the festival will be launching a "robust PSA campaign developed by a youth-culture oriented marketing firm and featuring leading artists," so expect Skrillex to tell you drugs are bad, or something. There will also be free water all festival long, and cheap/possibly free electrolytes for partygoers who need theirs replenished.
Last year, attendees complained that festival security was less than adequate, which was particularly concerning considering Electric Zoo takes place in public space. "All the drug use and under-age activity that goes on here every year and now this," a city employee told A Walk in the Park. "And this year they added a third day. And for what, money? These events have to go. They are putting the public at risk."
Tickets go on sale next Tuesday.