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Security tightened at Boston Calling over ‘Molly’ concerns

An EMT rode a bicycle around attendees at the Boston Calling music festival on City Hall Plaza.

Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

An EMT rode a bicycle around attendees at the Boston Calling music festival on City Hall Plaza.

The thousands who attended Boston Calling, this weekend’s two-day music festival at City Hall Plaza, went through toughened security measures on their way in Saturday, including pat-downs.

Because of three recent fatal drug overdoses at concerts in Boston and New York, organizers said security would look for signs that patrons may be using Molly, the street name for a pure form of the drug ecstasy.

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The first day of the festival was centered primarily on indie rock and folk acts, not commonly associated with Molly use, but dance and electronic acts dominate much of Sunday’s lineup.

Michael Snow, cofounder of Crash Line Productions, the festival’s organizer, said he did not consider canceling, but did ensure that security personnel paid attention to the crowds.

“Boston police and our security team are more attuned to look at people within the event. There are telltale signs,” Snow said. “But it’s a pill. It’s very hard to stop.”

A Boston police official said there would be more officers, both uniformed and plainclothes, patrolling the concert than patrolled the first festival show in May.

Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

A Boston police official said there would be more officers, both uniformed and plainclothes, patrolling the concert than patrolled the first festival show in May.

Boston police spokeswoman Cheryl Fiandaca said the department will have more officers patrolling the Boston Calling concert this weekend than it did during the festival’s first show in late May.

Six Flags New England postponed a Sept. 28 electronica concert “in light of recent events.” In Manchester, N.H., the Verizon Wireless Arena canceled the Barstool Blackout Tour, a traveling rave.

The changes follow the recent deaths. Brittany Flannigan, 19, died of a suspected Molly overdose at the House of Blues in Boston on Aug. 28. Olivia Rotondo, 20, of North Providence, R.I., and Jeffrey Russ, 23, of Rochester, N.Y., died after suspected overdoses at the Electric Zoo Festival in New York City.

Also, in Quincy this summer, there were 12 reported drug overdoses at the Ocean Club at Marina Bay .

At Boston Calling, concertgoers moved between two stages. Saturday was scheduled to conclude with two rock bands, The Gaslight Anthem and Vampire Weekend.

Concertgoers had to leave large backpacks at a bar across the street from the entrance gates, where they were patted down and checked with a metal detecting wand. Young men and women, eating pizza and drinking beer and lemonade, milled around the plaza.

Bill Fulkerson, 36, of Lynn, watched the crowds and listened to the band Deer Tick.

“You’ve got the young kids with their vibrant hair [colors], and the hipsters with their pretty clothes and pretty hair,” he said. “I’ve seen some kids here with their families, which is pretty cool because it creates a nice overall environment.”

As the indie rock band Okkervil River played, Michael Snyder, a Boston University student, said it would have been “devastating” if organizers canceled a festival he was anticipating.

“You can come to these things under whatever influence you want, but you need to be able to control yourself, otherwise you’re a liability,” said Snyder. “You’re a liability to the company, to the concert, to the people who bring the band in.”

Snyder danced with Gabrielle Kovarie, also a BU student. The two planned to return Sunday for more.

“Tomorrow’s a lot more upbeat,” Kovarie said. “It’s a whole different group.”

Tickets were still available Saturday evening for Sunday’s performances.

Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at gal.lotan@globe.com.

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