An Aussie music festival that took place in west Sydney last week has been marred by tragedy.

A 23-year-old festival-goer died of a suspected drug overdose while 14 others were taken to hospital at the Defqon.1 music festival on Saturday.

More than 18,000 punters flocked to the International Regatta Centre in Penrith for the annual event, now entering its fifth year, which features over 100 electronic artists and hard trance DJs on its lineup performing across several stages.

Despite a strong police presence at the event, with over 100 officers with sniffer dogs conducting an operation that lead to 84 arrests for possession of illicit substances, there are claims that a “bad batch” of ecstasy was being sold to revellers at the event, as The Australian reports.

Police are currently investigating the distribution of toxic pills, sold off as ecstasy, which are being blamed for the death of the 23-year-old festival-goer who is understood to have travelled to the event from Victoria with friends to attend Defqon.1, and was rushed to the event’s on-site medical tent just hours after gates had opened to the event.

A Police report notes that the man was taken to the medical area – where extra paramedics had been rostered – shortly before midday. It wasn’t long before his condition deteriorated and an ambulance was summoned when he began suffering from several seizures. “The problem with pills is you never know what you are getting and you are really taking a lottery with your life.”

He was rushed to Nepean Hospital in a critical condition, where medical staff attempted to resuscitate him from numerous prolonged cardiac arrests, but pronounced the man dead shortly after 10.30pm on Saturday night.

Penrith LAC Detective Inspector Grant Healey tells The Daily Telegraph that it was unknown what drug the deceased man had overdosed on yet. “There were such a vast variety of drugs at the festival yesterday we can’t link them,” says Detective Inspector Healey. “We saw things that were reported as magic mushrooms, cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, GHB – this is what people were saying it was.”

Police will now prepare a report for the coroner to determine the exact fatal cause for the deceased’s cardiac episodes. “At the moment police are waiting for the results from the post mortem and toxicology before we say too much more about it,” says Detective Inspector Healey.

Police suspect that it was an overdose on multiple ecstasy pills that were most likely responsible for the death. “The problem with pills is you never know what you are getting and you are really taking a lottery with your life,” adds the Detective.

“If you think you are buying a particular pill there’s no quality control and you’re getting whatever the cook makes. The music festivals themselves aren’t the problem, the problem is adults attending those festivals making poor choices about their lifestyle and taking drugs that they don’t know what’s in them.”

More than 100 police were at the trance festival, attempting to stem punters from sneaking in drugs at entry and surrounding perimeters, but a Police report notes that at least six people got inside the event with a ‘suppliable’ amount of drugs, who were charged by police and expected to face court in the coming weeks.  by the end of the Saturday night.

By the end of Defqon.1, at least 20 people – aged between 17 to 55 years old – had been admitted to hospital with overdoses or reactions to a variety of illicit substances

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell remarked that the drug-related incidents are “just another demonstration that those people who call these substances ‘recreational drugs’ are dead wrong. A person has died. This is unacceptable and just demonstrates that what some people call ‘recreational drugs’ can kill,” he said.

The news of the Aussie music festival death alarmingly recalls the death of two revellers from suspected overdoses at New York’s Electric Zoo, which saw City Council and festival organisers cancelling the last day of its event as a result of the deaths.

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine