Electric Daisy Carnival is fast earning a reputation as one of the world’s premiere electronic music festivals, where the world’s best artists from all genres are paired with fairground rides, elaborate art installations, eccentric performers and one of the most unique crowds in the world. Oh, and it's in Vegas. It all sounded like too much fun to miss so hkclubbing hopped on a plane (then another plane, then a long car journey - more of this to come) to see what all the fuss is about!
Electric Daisy Carnival, or EDC as it is commonly known, is quite simply massive. Two weeks removed from the festival, it seems like it was a lifetime ago, and like any festival there are many elements that go into the overall package; just ask Pasquale Rotella CEO of Insomniac Events or 'Experience Creator' as he would rather be known. As a veteran of festivals in Europe, Asia and the USA I can wholeheartedly say that the Insomniac team did exactly what they promised they would do set out to create one of the best and most memorable festival experiences imaginable.
Let's start with the good; once inside it seemed that no expense had been spared to create the ultimate playground for fans of electronic music. Massive art installations were scattered amongst the seven stages, including the huge Electric Daisy, some giant fiery dragon and a massive bamboo garden. These provided endless entertainment and great chill out spots for those that wanted to take a rest from all the action. It was clear that a huge amount of thought and effort had gone into each installation, and even though I'm happy with some speakers and a few moving heads, these elements were a great addition to the experience.
Finding a venue to comfortably house 115,000 people a day must be tough, but once inside (while the festival was in full swing) there was ample room. Lines were short or nonexistent at all the main kiosks, and there were numerous free water stations throughout the venue, which is a nice touch and something that more festivals should consider.
The production on the stages was equally impressive. From the Discovery Stage that hosted well know acts such as Bobby Burns, Quintino and Shermanology amongst others to the enormous main-stage that featured current heavyweights such as Tiesto, Guetta, Avicii and Kaskade as well as some performers on the cusp of big things such as CAZZETTE, Porter Robinson and Nicky Romero.
Some of the biggest labels in electronic music today hosted their own stages, with SIZE boss Steve Angello welcoming stable mates AN21 & Max Vangeli, Thomas Gold and Tim Mason and special guests Benny Benassi and Erick Morillo. The stage was closed with an epic 3 hour set by Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano who were one of the acts that used the festival to really showcase their skills, and it will no doubt be a springboard to bigger things for the Dutch duo.
The Dim Mak stage was a wild party from start to finish with acts such as NERVO, Joachim Garraud, Sidney Sampson and R3hab all appearing before the debut set by Afroki – Dim Mak boss Steve Aoki and Afrojack. There was crowd surfing, champagne showers and flying cake’s to the face aplenty.
Sunday saw Laidback Luke bring his Super You & Me party to EDC. With many of the artists signed to his Mixmash label appearing, electronic music’s favourite Superhero was also joined by Major Lazer, Bingo Players and a stand-out set by rising superstar Sandro Silva; watch out for this guy in 2012.
Although I didn’t spend much time at the trace dominated circuitGrounds stage, I did manage to catch some of ATB’s awesome set on Sunday. This stage with the intricate truss system stretching well over the crowd was perhaps the most visually impressive stage. The line-up was a who’s who of trance music, with acts such as Gabriel & Dresden, Gareth Emery, BT and Above & Beyond performing and also hosted Armin van Buurens ever popular A State of Trance.
The addition features installed by Insomniac such as medical tents, lockers and toilets were all also well thought out and plentiful, and anyone who’s ever been to a festival knows that if this is something that isn’t thought out properly it can become a nightmare; a very foul smelling nightmare.
Every festival will encounter it’s issues, and EDC was no different. Two massive issues affected everyone over the weekend; the traffic and the wind. For those who don’t know the entire festival was forced to close just after midnight on Sunday morning due to a desert storm that whipped up high winds. Insomniac took the difficult decision to stop the music across all stages and ask for the crowd to move to the grandstands and wait for the winds to subside. Although it was the plan to re-open the stages at some point during the night the winds did not subside to a level that was deemed safe and the stages remained closed. In light of the recent tragedies in Indiana and Belgium, and another incident just days after the festival in Toronto, it is clear that Insomniac made the correct decision and I can only hope that the minority of people who were up in arms and clamouring for a refund took some time to reflect on this. Everything possible was done to make up for the cancellation, with Avicii being given a 30 minute slot on the main stage on Sunday to the delight of his fans, and all Saturday tickets being honoured for Sundays event.
Insomniac also rolled out the two rolling stages they had to where the majority of people were waiting to entertain the crowd. It wasn’t long before these stages had their speaker power tripled, and Steve Aoki and Markus Schulz played impromptu sets. This was a great touch by two DJ’s who could have easily jumped into a helicopter and been back on the strip in 15 minutes, but chose to stay and ride it out with the fans. My hat goes off to them both, and this will surely live in EDC infamy. In yet another display of class, Insomniac staff were handing out free t-shirts and towels to girls who hadn’t made their outfit choices with these crazy winds in mind. It was cold, and even though people were waving wads of cash at them they ensured that those that needed it most got covered up for free.
Despite the wind the biggest issue of the weekend was undoubtedly the traffic. Getting to and from the speedway became a nightmare for artists and attendees alike, with Gabriel & Dresden and Nervo both leaving their cars and running to make their set times on Friday. The less said about trying to get back to the strip on Saturday morning the better, scores of people decided that a 20 mile walk in the morning desert sunshine was the best option; and there were multiple times I felt like they had made the right choice. Although this was slightly rectified for the rest of the weekend it was still a shambles, and the Monday morning crowd going to work must have been pretty shocked. This is going to be a tough one for Insomniac and the Las Vegas authorities to sort out for next year, however it was pretty clear that something needs to be done.
My personal feelings are to make it compulsory to take a shuttle bus to and from the speedway. For those that want to drive to the festival – an accident waiting to happen in my opinion – set up park and ride systems somewhere, anywhere, else other than the speedway. An average of 6 hours travel time per day for a round trip was almost too much to handle; and the helicopters whizzing back and forth overhead only rubbed it in further.
All in all I would recommend EDC to any electronic music fan. Insomniac has built up quite the reputation and they didn’t disappoint. However, my one piece of advice would be to start saving now for the helicopter shuttle.
Thanks to Insomniac, Get In, Las Vegas and of course the other 345,000 plus attendees for making EDC a great weekend. Looking forward to 2013!
My Top 5 sets from EDC (that I wasn’t stuck in traffic for)
5. Afroki (Afrojack & Steve Aoki) - Dim Mak Stage (Neon Garden) 3:10 – 4:10 Friday
While neither act were top of my list to see, together they put on a great show to a packed crowed as the highlight of the Dim Mak Stage on Friday night. They were clearly having a great time and this infections energy was evident in the crowd. It seemed that almost every DJ that had played that night took a ride out into the crowd atop Steve's rubber dingy, or SS Aoki as it's known. It also featured Afrojacks first stage dive. Considering he is 6'8 I feel for the people that caught him.
4. Quintino – Discovery Stage Sunday 0:00 – 1:00am & Sandro Silva – Neon Garden 0:30-1:30 am
While these are two separate acts on separate stages, I feel it’s fair to group them into one slot here. The producers of the smash hit ‘Epic’ – which was awarded a platinum award at this year’s WMC – were due to play on the same night with slightly overlapping sets, so as is common at most festivals I attend I persuaded / bullied my friends into giving some acts that they may not be familiar with a chance. Quintino was performing on the small Discovery stage, and drew the biggest crowd to that area that I saw all weekend. After about 45 minutes we made the short trip over to the Neon Garden to see Sandro Silva, already in full flow. Both of these young Dutch artists lived up to the hype, delivering solid sets and keeping the crowd engaged the whole time. Make sure that you check out either of them if they are playing in a town near you soon.
3. Fedde Le Grand - Kinetic Field (Main Stage) Friday 4:30am-5:30am
Fedde provided an epic close to day one on the main stage as the sun came up in the background. He effortlessly weaved high energy tracks, with great melodies and kept anyone that was considering beating the traffic dancing well after his last track finished. I encourage you to seek out this set online somewhere.
2. Tommy Trash – Neon Garden Saturday 0:00 - 0:15
Is it fair to give an act that only played for 15 minutes second place on my list? When this act is Tommy Trash it most certainly is. His productions of late have been spot on, and to pigeonhole his sound is almost impossible which is why many of the industry’s top names have been clamouring to work with the Australian. Above all you get the feeling that he, and his hair, totally love every minute of it. Even if 15 minutes is all we got, it’s good enough for my number 2 spot.
1. Porter Robinson - Kinetic Field - Sunday 3:00 – 4:00 am
What a year it has been for Porter Robinson. The 19 year old had just graduated from high school when he headed out to Las Vegas to play EDC in 2011. A year later, after having supported Tiesto on his massive Club Life: College Invasion tour, releasing a hugely popular EP, 2 beatport number 1’s, and playing numerous festivals including Ultra Music Festival and Coachella, he was back at EDC Las Vegas, however this time on the main stage.
After the show he admitted that he was nervous, however it certainly didn’t show in his performance. Assisted by the best visuals of the entire weekend (perhaps the lighting guy was a fan) Porter delivered a stunning, genre weaving set that would have had a fan of any genre enthralled. A sure fire headliner from here on out, believe the hype about this guy, and if his ‘Language’ tour is stopping anywhere close to you soon.
Review by John Stephen
Feature and first photo by Rukes
Remaining Photos by Erick Kabik