Major UK Music Festival Cancelled After “Bad-Batch” Drug Deaths

According to attendees, the festival’s water fountains weren’t working.

Jun 3, 2018
Mutiny Music Festival Cancelled After "Bad-Batch" Drug Deaths

Photo by Ridleywright/Getty Images

Mutiny, a music festival in Portsmouth, UK, was set to fill the bank this past holiday weekend with acts like Sean Paul, Dizzee Rascal, and Pete Tong. But tragedy struck as two people, an 18-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man, died from separate drug-related causes on the first day. Organizers canceled the remainder of the festival, and a tense debate has begun about how the loss could have been avoided.

Mutiny attendees were alerted mid-day when the festival’s Twitter account posted a ‘harm prevention alert,’ warning that a ‘high strength or bad batch substance’ had made its way into the crowds. The tweet asked that festival-goers keep their eyes out for people in distress. Mutiny is an all-ages show, despite requests from the community to create an age limit after drugs and violence were reported from the previous year.

At least 15 people were admitted to hospitals from the festival, though not all were drug-related. Authorities haven’t specified what caused the two deaths, but the mother of the 18-year-old said her body temperature spiked after taking two pills.

It’s possible that the two were having a negative reaction to some form of ecstasy. About an hour before the two collapsed, witnesses say that the water fountains on site stopped working properly. Ecstasy can cause both dehydration and water retention, making it essential to stay properly hydrated, especially in hot environments. Attendees could buy water bottles for inflated prices, but those apparently began running out. The festival had a no re-entry policy.

“The event organizers had proposed a rule banning opened bottles of water, and limiting individuals to one bottle each,” one festival-goer told The Guardian, “but of course everyone in that queue had to drink the little water they had taken, meaning no one had any water once inside. Prices to buy water were extortionate.”

Police arrested two people in their early 20s suspected of dealing the bad drugs at Mutiny. Both have since been released.

Jun 3, 2018