Unwelcome Reflections: A Personal Reaction To The Swedish House Mafia In The Phoenix Park.

Last Saturday’s now infamous Swedish House Mafia gig in the Phoenix Park has provoked a customary reaction from the usual well-spring of disgusted parents and astonished Liveline listeners in which a number of fragmented incidents have been woven together so as to weave a rich tapestry of madness; transforming central Dublin into an embattled war zone through the ineffable efforts of the mass media distribution.

Unfortunately for promoters nationwide, this fiasco has brought the presentation of Electronic Dance Music under the spot light once again; broad brush strokes painting an industry in the type of dangerous generalisations that it can never quite seem to rid itself of.

With investigations taking place regarding the spate of stabbings and drug overdoses that took place in Dublin last weekend, it was only going to be a matter of time before bored Comments and Analyses editors commissioned articles decrying Electronic Dance Music as a scourge on society that promotes violence, cruelty and general mayhem; singling out a number of tragic incidents at a single event so as to polarise an entire industry.

Perhaps such a backlash was to be expected and, for this commentator, did not come as surprise. It is at times like this, however, that we must remain vigilant, as supporters of EDM gigs, producers, promoters and fans alike. A small number of tragic incidents should not be used so as to condone those promoters operating in this area that approach such EDM gigs in a credible, conscientious manner.

After all, if you are to compare the number of times you went to a gig that went off without a hitch to the number of nights where a serious breach of the peace occurred, then chances are the scales are going to be tipped towards the favourable, enjoyable nights; provided that you’ve even come across such an extraordinary event at a concert in the first place.

While one unruly event might garner extensive media attention, the countless number of well-organised events catering to an audience that appreciates “underground” electronic music go undocumented by the nation’s major media outlets so that the natural order of proceedings continues unabated. By the same token, the other nights on the bill over this weekend saw headlining acts like the Stone Roses and Snow Patrol being favourably received in what coverage these gigs did receive in the national media. Indeed, if you were to ask the Man on the Street what acts were on the bill before the Swedish House Mafia on that faithful day then one would be hard pressed to get a correct answer.


What was it about this particular night that so startled the Plain People of Ireland?

The hysteria that has arisen has done so due to the fact that, on this occasion, the maelstrom of antisocial behaviour usually associated with Oxegen has been transposed to Central Dublin, so that the often reprehensible behaviour noticeable by anyone that has attended this festival becomes manifestly apparent; it would appear that this realisation among parents regarding the kind of behaviour their child are capable of when left to their own devices constitutes the kernel of this issue.

Since the financial collapse of 2008, the short spurt of economic prosperity known to this nation has already been lost to the annals of history. Looking back on that period of unsustainable growth and unchecked development, it is easier to see the kind of rampant greed that facilitated such an economic oasis in our nation’s long (and let’s not beat around the bush here) financially impoverished history.

Now that we are left with the shattered fragments of a broken economy, it is perhaps all the more tragic to look on and discover the kind of children that have been brought into being in that climate of rampant “prosperity.”

The Celtic Tiger will henceforth act as a reminder to future generations about the dangers of unlimited credit; especially since those generations have already been saddled with a bill from the EU-IMF that they had absolutely nothing to do with bringing about. This fact, however, is little consolation when we ask ourselves what values have been instilled in the current generation of adolescents; raised in a period that will be vilified for its greed and lack of fiscal prudence.


Is it unreasonable to assume that a period known for such shortcomings should be reflected in the attitudes of the children raised in such a suspect epoch of our history?

To say that EDM is responsible for such unacceptable actions constitutes the kind of shifting of responsibilities that is unfortunately endemic in our present society. People want simple solutions to problems, constantly shirking responsibility from where it should be addressed in the first place; towards ourselves.

Music doesn’t stab people. People stab people. The most harm one can expect to gain from music arises from over exposure to loud sound systems.

If the fiasco in the Phoenix Park is to avoided in the future, then surely it is more worth our while to ask what were the genuine reasons for the disturbances in the first place. Rather than singling out a convenient scapegoat like the “illicit” nature of EDM, why not put the blame where it belongs: on the shoulders of the parents who have failed to raise decent members of society. Let us call into question the socio-economic problems that sustain an environment where such violent crimes can be nurtured in the first place.

A short-sighted solution to a long-term problem is incapable of appreciating the sheer scope required to address such a serious issue in society; pointing the finger where it does not belong merely serves to satiate the superficial concerns of a nation that will have forgotten about these incidents as soon as the next shocking headline is read tomorrow’s newspaper.

It is an unfortunate truth of our human being that when a mirror is held to our face, we do not like the reflection we sometimes see.     

Words: Stuart Nealon









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