The Drugs Scene at an Austin Outdoor Music Festival in 2013
Jun 13, 2013
Citation: Rev. MeO. "The Drugs Scene at an Austin Outdoor Music Festival in 2013". Erowid.org. Jun 13 2013. Online: Erowid.org/general/conferences/conference_2013_austin_fest1.shtml
A Mellow VibeIn its sixth year, this Austin outdoor psychedelic music festival took place in late April on a private ranch near the Texas capital. For the first time ever, the fest had onsite camping. This created an atmosphere I'd not experienced since visiting Grateful Dead touring campgrounds in the early 1990s. Another aspect of this festival that separates it from many others is the fact that about 20% of its 4,000 attendees are from outside of the United States. But onto the drugs...
A combination of factors likely led to a very relaxed atmosphere where attendees felt safe openly smoking cannabis. This is Austin; it's not like the rest of Texas. While law enforcement can arrest someone for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia, often in certain situations in Austin--such as these types of peaceful, "no problems" gatherings--they seem to look the other away. Consider, for example, Eeyore's Birthday Party--an annual day-long festival celebrated since 1963 that is basically a gathering of "freaks and hippies" in a public park, held to raise money for various non-profit organizations in Austin. That event was going on in the city the same weekend as this Psychedelic Festival when I visited a few years ago. While city police largely watched the perimeter to keep traffic moving, they also walked throughout the park--where people were openly smoking a lot of cannabis--and remained unfazed..
This festival was on private property with private security which, for the most part, remained on the outskirts of the festival grounds; they appeared to be primarily concerned with potential water moccasin bites from attendees going into/near the Colorado River.
Cannabis PrevalenceIt is true that there was so much space available at the event, and--being open-air by the river--the aroma of marijuana (and the smoke itself) wafted away quickly. And pretty much everyone smoking showed some signs of hiding their actions, such as looking 360-degrees before puffing or when handing the joint or pipe to a friend. Nevertheless, no one seemed to get busted or bothered by the private security at the event. While I presume there were undercover cops at the event, I saw no sign of this and heard no one discussing the topic.
So, of course there was marijuana use at the festival--both in the campgrounds and on the actual festival grounds during performances. Sales of substances, in general, were minimal and/or extremely quiet. It seems likely that most people intending to imbibe psychedelics during the event brought their own provisions. Throughout the entire weekend, I encountered a single person quietly selling marijuana--branded "Pineapple Express"--for $10/gram. However, after viewing one sale, it appeared the pricing was more in line with $6/gram.
Bring Yer Own!The bring-your-own experience was witnessed with 4-AcO-DMT. It never appeared as something for sale, but one attendee explained his situation: He'd purchased it online and for a couple days of the festival just dipped his finger into the powder and licked it. One night, he could be heard from his tent laughing ecstatically for well over an hour. The cause was the 4-AcO-DMT. He had no idea of the dosage he took, but the experiences went very well as far as he was concerned.
Open 25I-NBOMe Blotter Sales25I-NBOMe was the big surprise. One person was openly selling professional-looking printed and perforated blotter squares that he claimed contained 1,000 micrograms of 25I-NBOMe each, which he explained was a sufficiently strong dose. He was peddling this drug as openly as people were smoking marijuana; that is, he didn't have a sign advertising the product and he wasn't barking about it; but after Day 1 it seemed to simply be known: he was the guy selling 25I-NBOMe. When asked about the substance, he identified it as being, "Like 2C-I, but legal." As far as he was concerned, it was perfectly legal for him to sell the 25I-NBOMe blotter as long as he didn't explain how to use it as a drug (which, after very little discussion, he did do--specifically pointing out that the blotter should be kept in the top of the mouth between the lip and gums for 10-15 minutes and one should minimize swallowing saliva for that time). Of course, it was forbidden to sell anything in the campground without permission from the organizers, so he was at risk for being tossed out at the very least.
The 25I-NBOMe salesman's hubris blew my mind. Even assuming law enforcement believed he wasn't selling his blotter paper for drug use, this was at a psychedelic music festival and he was selling individual pieces of blotter. If nothing else, that would be sufficient to ruin one's weekend via arrest on suspicion of selling LSD.
He made his way around camp quite a bit during the first two days of the festival, socializing/working his way into little groups of people; he could often be seen simply walking around, looking for people to hang out with. He was intent on distributing 25I-NBOMe; "I've got a lot of product," he explained. I encountered multiple people that bought blotter from him, but I also saw him simply give it away. It was well understood around camp that this fellow had this substance, but there were scant reports of people actually using his product. In fact, I heard only one story from someone who ingested the substance at the event. In the early morning hours one day, I fell into conversation with a group of people that included the 25I-NBOMe salesman as well as an Australian who had taken the substance the previous evening. The Aussie also consumed a lot of alcohol that night and, after sunrise, had yet to sleep. The lingering intoxication, exhaustion and foreign accent combined to the point that at first I didn't even realize he was speaking English. His words and thoughts were all over the place. I was pretty certain he said the 25I-NBOMe blotter lasted 16 hours, but I'd later hear directly from the salesman that it lasts 6-8 hours, so I suspect there was a communication problem due primarily to drug-taker's slurring-sleepy speech.
A day later I spoke with the Australian again and he explained that the 25I-NBOMe took him much further than he was expecting it to. I do not know if he took one hit of the blotter or more, but the salesman was distributing the blotter in little baggies with two hits each.
I did not see the 25I-NBOMe salesman during the event's final day or the subsequent "pack-up-and-go-home" Monday morning. This stood out to me. He had been so visible earlier in the event--at the very least he could be seen simply walking around the campground a few times per day. It is possible that he may have been picked up by undercover law enforcement or removed from the grounds for simply selling something (though for the latter, he would have had to have been warned to stop selling at least once, as the event crew was pretty relaxed). He was the only person at the festival bartering any psychoactive substance so openly.
A Lack of LSD? But Molly May Have Made It...On the first day, I was informed by one attendee that some really good LSD would be available. However, he didn't mention it again: Either it did not become available or perhaps he was confused because of the 25I-NBOMe blotter that was being sold.
On the final evening, the same source above explained, eyes wide with a big smile, that he was "on a lot of Mollys" (Ecstasy tablets presumably containing MDMA) that night. I saw him only briefly after that admission and was not able to enquire about the quality of the "Mollys" or their packaging; but he did appear to be quite talkative and social.
In the evenings, there were multiple instances of people walking around the campground asking out loud (sometimes loudly), if anyone had mushrooms or LSD for sale. I never heard anyone respond.
Overall, despite the on-site camping and clear presence of a psychedelic subculture, there was less open distribution/sales/discussion/networking than I'd expected. The most interesting element was just another data point showing that the NBOMe compounds appear to have substantially replaced LSD for sale at public venues in 2013.