Pollstar Live!
Safe & Successful EDM

The concert industry wants to keep making headlines about the number of tickets sold and profits made at EDM events – rather than the number of deaths, overdoses or arrests for drug possessions.

Because let’s be real, when we talk about producing and hosting a safe EDM event, we’re talking about the drugs  – and subsequent issues – that seem to go hand-in-hand with the genre.

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As Larry Lepore of Dunkin’ Donuts Center said, “I have never seen any violence at the shows,” adding that dealing with medical emergencies is the biggest challenge he sees in putting on EDM shows.

Initially Lepore said that he avoided booking EDM shows, telling promoters that he had holds just to keep the gigs out.

But then he got on board with EDM after he realized his “phone wasn’t ringing for anything else.”

For the Staples Center‘s Lee Zeidman, his first challenge in booking Kaskade at the arena last year was convincing the city of Los Angeles that the show was a good idea.

“There was not a good taste in the city’s mouth for these type of events,” Zeidman said, referring to the 15-year-old who fatally overdosed at 2010’s Electric Daisy Carnival at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. “Had to overcome quite a bit of adversity dealing with the fire department and police department. … But meeting with our promoter, Live Nation, and our partners with the city, as well as Staff Pro, who we hired to do our outside security for the event … We put together plans and actually convinced the city as a venue we were ready to host something like this.”

The plan included additional ambulances, extra EMTs, hiring a doctor and nurses, and setting up a medical triage room.

“We put cots in there, we put drapes around the cots so when someone came in who was dehydrated or overheating, they could go into a safe, private space,” Zeidman said. “We believe that we had few transports (to the hospital) because the doctor that we hired was very familiar with this type of crowd, the type of drugs that could potentially be taken at this type of show and knew how to react.”

Lepore agreed with the need to book extra staff, explaining that “this isn’t the type of show where you beg for forgiveness after something goes wrong.” Looking back on the first EDM show he did, he admitted that the venue probably missed a few steps such as notifying hospitals beforehand so they wouldn’t be overwhelmed by potential patients following the show. He added that it’s important to notify all city services of the show, explaining that although the mayor’s office isn’t necessarily involved, if there is a problem a microphone will be put in the mayor’s face.

Zeidman emphasized the need to do research and understand the artist, the genre and fans. Also, while it’s good to have a plan, it’s what you do afterwards with the plan as far as educating patrons, the fire department and police department. Because a plan can be great, but if it doesn’t get into the hands of people who are going to help you, it won’t do you any good. The last thing you want to do is hold a press conference explaining what went wrong and shaking your head.

One audience member brought up a question about how food and beverage come into play at EDM shows. While some venues like Dunkin’ Donuts Center don’t sell alcohol at EDM shows and others, like the Staples Center, do, both Lepore and Zeidman agreed on the necessity of making sure fans don’t get dehydrated.

Zeidman said that because people on drugs will be dehydrated and looking for water, he had staff checking the restrooms to see if fans needed to be taken to the medical triage room.

Lepore warned venues not to “jack up the price of water,” adding that it will only cause more problems if you’re trying to make a few bucks.

Moderator Scott Neal of Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield asked the panelists, with everything that can possibly go wrong with EDM shows, why do these events other than money?

Drawing laughter from the crowd, Lepore said that there’s no other reason to do anything.

Zeidman added that we’re in the business of putting content in our venues and this is a genre he wants to be a part of. But to continue to do this, you need to do it right.

For Staff Pro s Thushan Rajapaksa it’s simple. “We get to create magical moments, memorable experiences.” He added that at the end of the day, if people are happy and safe, we’ve done our job.