UMass cancels two more EDM concerts, Molly fears abound

By Conor Snell

The University of Massachusetts cancelled two more upcoming electronic dance music concerts at the Mullins Center on Thursday, bringing the number of concerts cancelled due to drug concerns up to three.

Rehan Talat/ Collegian

The cancellations of Above & Beyond, slated for Oct. 4 and Pretty Lights, set for Oct. 30, came just five days after Return to Fantazia was scheduled to perform before its cancellation earlier this month. These are the last of the scheduled EDM concerts at the Mullins Center for this year.

The cancellations come after a dangerous and potent form of the drug MDMA, nicknamed Molly, has been connected to several recent overdoses in the Northeast.

Enku Gelaye, interim vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life, said in an email to UMass students that “the factors that led to cancellation of the Sept. 21 concert have not positively shifted. In fact, we have grown even more concerned about ongoing reports of overdoses at such events.”

“The Molly-taking culture at these shows is real and now exceedingly dangerous to the health and safety of concert attendees,” she said.

Student Government Association President Zachary Broughton held discussions with campus officials regarding the concerts, and co-signed Gelaye’s email informing students of the cancellations. However, in a Facebook post on Sept. 27, Broughton clarified that he “did not, and [does] not support the cancellation of these events.”

“[We] did not think it was the place of the University to dictate the behavior of students. Rather, it is the responsibility of the University to educate students so that they can make better, informed decisions,” wrote Broughton in the post. He goes on to stress his belief that the cancellations punish those who do not use Molly, assume that all who attend these EDM events participate in drug culture, ignore problems with other drugs and do not allow students to make their own choices.

Broughton said he agreed to co-sign the email to let students know that SGA representatives had been involved in the discussion process, but that the SGA’s goal of preventing the cancellation had ultimately failed.

Molly has been linked to seven deaths in Boston and New York, according to the Greenfield Recorder. Reports of these overdoses have recently prompted a string of concert cancellations throughout the region.

Electric Zoo, a multi-day EDM festival held on Randalls Island, N.Y. over Labor Day weekend was cancelled on its final day after two concertgoers overdosed and died, according to the New York Times.

According to , MDMA can cause feelings of empathy, extreme closeness with others and sexual arousal by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. However, it can also cause feelings of nausea and dehydration, increase heart rate and blood pressure and lead to a “sharp increase in body temperature” also known as hyperthermia.

Pure MDMA can often be hard to find, and much of the Molly around now is mixed with other drugs, often unknown to the buyer. These can include caffeine, the stimulant ephedrine, ketamine, cocaine, methamphetamines and a wide range of other chemicals, each with their own side effects and potential dangers, according to the New York Times.

“The strain of Molly out on the street right now is very dangerous, and its use is strongly associated with these types of concerts,” said Ed Blaguszewski, director of news and information for UMass. “If these kinds of concert are being held on our campus, then we have a responsibility to make sure people are safe.”

He said that the future for EDM concerts at UMass remains unclear, and the University will have to wait and “see how the situation on the street develops.”

According to Blaguszewski, Mullins Center management has been cooperative and understanding in regards to the cancellations. He also said the contract between UMass and the Mullins Center gives the University the right to cancel events such as these.

Ticketholders for Above & Beyond and Pretty Lights can receive refunds for tickets at the point of purchase.


Conor Snell can be reached at [email protected]