Richard Brian, Las Vegas Weekly file
Sunday, May 8, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Amairani, the cashier/espresso queen at the place I walk to most mornings for a wake-up jolt, was talking about the huge concert planned outside Las Vegas next month. “I guess they’re moving here because so many people died at the concert in L.A.,” she said.
A practiced concertgoer, the UNLV student had been to Southern California for the Coachella megamusic festival a few weeks ago. Now for summer fun, she plans on going to the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in June. “It was kind of creepy,” she said of Coachella. “It was fun, but everywhere you’d walk, you’d see people convulsing on the ground.”
Convulsing from what?
From all the things people ingest to enhance a musical event and get wacky, including alcohol and drugs such as Ecstasy and balloons of nitrous oxide. Combined with dehydration and little food beyond Cheetos, Doritos and Mountain Dew, and a person’s body can get overloaded, resulting in some ugly and sometimes dangerous reactions.
But what’s she’s talking about is coming to Las Vegas? And is it true about all the deaths in L.A.?
Electric Daisy Carnival is a musical event on a scale never seen before in Las Vegas. It’s to be held over three days, Friday through Sunday, June 24-26. Because it’s excruciatingly hot in Las Vegas — average highs during the day are 100 and average lows at night are 70 — the music starts at 8 p.m. and ends at 7 a.m. On the first day tickets became available two weeks ago, 85,000 were sold. (A three-day pass goes for $180 plus $15.30 service fee). About 150,000 people or more may attend.
Held at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in June, the concert drew 180,000. It also drew some unwanted attention.
What kind of unwanted attention? Did people really die?
A 15-year-old girl died and about 120 were taken to hospitals, mostly for drug intoxication. The teenage girl, Sasha Rodriguez, was said to have died of an overdose of Ecstasy. And the Los Angeles Times reported this year that a coliseum official who helped plan security at the June event was being paid by the event’s producer. Los Angeles police had said they didn’t believe there wasn’t enough security at the event. As a result, the coliseum’s manager resigned — he had given permission to his assistant general manager to be a paid consultant to Insomniac Inc., the company that staged the Daisy Carnival. The assistant general manager also quit to become a full-time event promoter.
Are local officials in Las Vegas and Clark County worried about the event?
Asked about potential problems at an event of this magnitude, Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins, whose district includes the speedway, said Las Vegas and its police are experienced with handling large-scale events, such as hundreds of thousands on the Strip every New Year’s Eve.
“The speedway has a huge investment in this, and it does not want to jeopardize its reputation and have anything like that incident in L.A. happen here,” Collins said. He added that there are a “lot of differences” between the event here and the one in Los Angeles.
You must be at least 18 to get in, and the event’s website says there will be “zero tolerance” for drug use or possession, adding that “if you are found inebriated at the door, security will not allow you to enter the venue.”
Everyone who goes will also be searched and “you will need to empty your pockets and have all items examined.”
The site will have “cooling off zones” and a 140-foot-by-300-foot misting tent set up. Because of “less restrictive pyrotechnics regulations,” the site also says “much bigger caliber of fireworks and effects” will be used.
Still, some worry.
Commissioner Steve Sisolak wonders how much revenue will actually be generated.
“I don’t think many of these people are coming here to gamble or see a show on the Strip,” he said. Granted, he added, “any money spent here is good.”
He just hopes it’s safe.
“I don’t want it to turn into a free-for-all. And I want to do everything I can to help the economy, but it’s of great concern to me that Los Angeles didn’t want this because of all the problems associated with it.”So far, at least 85,000 ticket holders are undaunted. We’ll see how they feel on June 27.