Washington DC

‘It Made Our House Vibrate': People Say DC Music Festival Got Too Loud

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Many people in D.C. complained about loud music coming from the RFK festival grounds Sunday night. People say the second night of the Project Glow Dance Festival was particularly loud.

Offering two days of music on the RFK parking lot festival grounds, Project Glow was billed as the District's first electronic music festival. But in neighborhoods all over the area, people had complaints about how loud and late the music was, especially for a Sunday night.

One person tweeted from College Park, Maryland, saying they could hear music all the way from their house. "How did you permit this on a Sunday night?" they tweeted.

A resident who lives a few blocks away from the stage said she heard it all clearly.

"It was loud and made our house vibrate," she said. "But it seemed like people are having a nice time. We did not attend."

She said it didn't wake her child, so it wasn't that bad, but about three miles away in the Bloomingdale neighborhood in Northeast, a tweet implored the mayor to "Please make it stop. I have to work tomorrow and need to sleep."

Reports of the sound resonating in the hills of Anacostia were common, too, and residents of Oklahoma Avenue, some of the closest homes to the stage, say they heard the bass lines but that it didn't bother them that much.

But across the D.C. line in Mount Rainier, Maryland, noise complaints got the police out searching for the source of the sound.

Weather conditions Sunday night might have helped to amplify the volume. Another possible explanation could be the way the sound system was configured.

Mayor Muriel Bowser addressed the complaints at an event Monday. 

“I know a lot of people were disturbed by it, so we certainly regret that,” she said. 

“I don’t want to sugar coat this — nobody would certainly expect an event at RFK to reverberate for miles and miles,” she added. “We want festival to happen. We want live music. We want people to have a good time. But we want people to enjoy peace and quiet as well.”

Events DC sent News4 the following statement:

"Events DC works to attract events that bring positive cultural and economic benefits to our nation’s capital. At the same time, we are mindful of the impact that events at our venues have on our surrounding communities. For each event, we work closely with community stakeholders, event organizers, promoters, other District agencies to mitigate any negative impacts including excessive noise, traffic and waste.

In response to community concerns following the Project GLOW festival, we plan to implement changes at future events to better control noise levels in the community, including:

- Review policy for operating days and hours of all events
- Adjusted placement and direction of event/concert speakers
- Enhanced monitoring of the speakers and soundboard during concerts

Events DC values the positive relationship with our neighbors and will continue to address all community concerns as a top priority.”

Events DC did not respond to questions about the volume and if decibel levels were being monitored.

Low-Lying Clouds, Temperature Inversion May Have Helped Amplify Glow Concert Noise

So why did the noise travel like that? Storm Team4 Meteorologist Amelia Draper explained that it may have been due to sound waves trapped and channeled by low-lying clouds.

"The weather likely has played a role in making it so loud," Draper said. "We have plenty of clouds out there, so the clouds kind of trapped the noise in the lower levels and allowed those sound waves to travel farther or appear louder as well."

Numerous D.C. residents complained about extreme noise coming from Sunday night's Project Glow Fest concert. Storm Team4 Meteorologist Amelia Draper explains how weather conditions may have helped make it worse.

Draper noted that how much of an effect the weather had remains to be seen, but the D.C. area had what's called a temperature inversion Sunday night: cooler air at the surface and warmer air aloft.

Typically, the air gets colder as it goes up, but that was not the case Sunday night, so that loud music got trapped at the surface. Similar things happen with our fireworks displays here all the time, Draper said.

The festival's loud music was trapped at the surface rather than being allowed to escape into the atmosphere, and that's why it was so extraordinarily loud, Draper said.

The weather can't be blamed completely on the extreme volume, Draper said, because she thinks without the temperature inversion, the music still would have been loud.

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