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News Maryland Baltimore Crime Beat

After deaths following Merriweather concert, dance music festival bans bracelets some say are linked to drug culture

Following the deaths of two concert goers in Columbia earlier this month, promoters of a traveling music festival have banned a number of items including bright, decorative, chunky bracelets known as "kandi," which is popular among electronic dance music fans but some say is linked to the drug culture.

Tyler Fox Viscardi, 20, of Raleigh, N.C., and Daniel Anders, 17, of Woodbridge, Va., both died after attending the Mad Decent Block Party music festival on Aug. 1 at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Autopsy results are pending but Howard County police suspect widespread use of MDMA or the club drug known as Ecstasy or Molly at the concert. The drug has long been linked to electronic dance music, giving users a feeling of euphoria but it can also raise internal temperatures to dangerous levels.

Another 19 people were taken to hospitals and treated and released while a 19-year-old man was arrested for assault at the concert. 

Merriweather officials say they took stringent security precautions at concert gates on Aug. 1, patting down concert goers, prohibiting many items and searching purses. Howard County police and government officials say they are reviewing the security measures.

Diplo, a nationally prominent DJ and co-founder of the music festival, tweeted his condolences after learning about the first death. Last week, concert promoters took additional steps to curb drug use at future festival stops.

They banned a number of items including open packs of cigarettes or tampons as well as kandi bracelets. The bracelets are typically homemade with chunky bright beads that sometimes include letters that spell out musical artists. The bracelets are often traded by fans as a way to build camaraderie but according to Magnetic Magazine have also been used by dealers to "signify that they were selling drugs." The bracelets have also been used to hide ecstasy pills and smuggle them past security, the magazine said.

Diplo told fans he was banning the bracelets in a tweet that elicited mostly favorable responses though some questioned the decision as an overreaction. The Mad Decent Block Party music festival, which includes several musical acts including Diplo, tours into the fall with stops at major cities including Toronto on Friday.

 i don't got nothing but love 4 u and your kandi i just want to take steps to make sure everyone is there 100% for the music. not other stuff

— blondre 3000 (@diplo) August 7, 2014

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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