What's the Vibe?: 10 Music Festivals and the Drugs That Define Them

Who's doing what at which festival?

Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas, 2017
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

From SXSW to Burning Man to the Electric Daisy Carnival, festivals are known not only for their musical styles, but also for the drug-taking habits of the people that attend them. Blissfully dancing acid heads, ecstatic rollers, and drunken mud pit wallowers weave in and out of the massive crowds. They're part of the scenery at what is, after all, a massive party scene.

But who's doing which drugs at what festivals? Thanks to the good folks at TickPick.com, an online ticket marketplace, we now have an inkling. They surveyed more than a thousand festival-goers, and the result is their Most Used Festival Drugs. It's not a definitive study, but it is a fun point of departure for exploring the festival drug scene.

The first finding worth noting is that despite their reputations as drug-drenched bacchanals, most people at music festival aren't using illegal drugs. America's favorite drug—alcohol—is also the favorite of the festival scene, with three-quarters reporting having imbibed, twice as many as reported toking up. Fewer than 40% overall reported smoking pot, and when it comes to other drugs, the numbers shrink even further.

MDMA/Ecstasy/Molly came in third at 13%, but none of the other drugs listed—LSD, magic mushrooms, cocaine, opiates, DMT, other—came in as high as 9%.

While they all featured heavy alcohol and marijuana use, each music festival has its own personality, and its own drug habits. For instance, Lone Star state concertgoers at SXSW and the Austin City Limits Festival were the least likely to pick up a joint—27.1% and 24.2% respectively. Austin may be the pot-friendliest city in Texas, but it's still Texas.

The electronic dance music (EDM) festivals, are, unsurprisingly, Ecstasy hotbeds. Miami's Ultra festival came in at 17.7% for Ecstasy, while at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, more than one out of four attendees (26.4%) were rolling to those 130 beats per minute. Both festivals also scored high for cocaine use, with Ultra at 10.6% and the Carnival at 9.9%.

Cocaine didn't even make the top five list at Burning Man, that massive gathering each September in the Nevada desert. No, Burning Man is for tripping brains. More than one out of three Burners were on psychedelics, either mushrooms (19.2%) or LSD (16.0%). Burning Man also ranked high for Ecstasy use at 17.9%. What else are you going to do at Black Rock?

Below is the chart of the top drugs at each festival. Pick your music and pick your poison:







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Phillip Smith has been a drug policy journalist for the past two decades. Smith is currently a senior writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute