After a few solid nights of sleep to counteract the savage vampire schedule of EDC, myself and the StopBreatheBump team have now had enough time to digest and put together this review… but where to begin?
Leaving the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Monday morning I sat in the car in a state of disbelief, regularly asking myself “Did that really just happen?” … as it turns out, it did. Insomniac had just wrapped up the 17th annual Electric Daisy Carnival marking a milestone moment for North Americas largest dance music event with 350,000 attendees, over 200 performers gracing the 8 massive stages and minimal incident or cause for concern throughout the 3 day debut in Las Vegas. Creating a true carnival atmosphere, the festival also featured more than 200 performers, including dancers, fire twirlers, aerialists, and stilt walkers, plus numerous full size carnival rides and attractions. The 1,000-acre complex was transformed into a fully immersive audiovisual experience as large-scale art installations created their own interactive environments amidst the eight stages, along with state-of-the-art lighting and sound production. Attendees also experienced the most impressive pyrotechnics display in Insomniac’s history.
It was a surreal moment walking down the endless flight of stairs onto the racetrack and then further to the infield where the event was located. For the next few hours I wandered around with the crew fighting the ridiculous sea of candy kids trying to get a lay of the land, finding key meeting places, clean bathrooms, water filling stations and of course the best viewing angles for the 8 absurdly large stages. It turned out to be an unforgettable experience and well worth every second of difficulty!
There was ample space for all of the stages, rides, pre-established concessions, entertainment, and chill zones for relaxing in AC. There was even a sea of porta-potties to accommodate the thousands of guests. Thankfully again we had access to media bathrooms so we got to avoid the inevitable carnage to be found in the brown sea. Free water bottle filling stations capable of filling your water bottle in 3 seconds were spaced evenly throughout the 1000 acres and without a question played a key role in keeping everyone hydrated in the hot and dry desert environment. I even saw Insomniac staff handing out free cold water to dedicated fans.This was a very thoughtful and conscious effort made by Insomniac, which should be acknowledged because it certainly is not the norm at many large music festivals.
As for technical details pertaining to the music itself, the stage lighting and sound were absolutely fantastic. Not once did you ever wish the music was louder and you could feel the bass everywhere you went on the grounds. It actually turned out to be the first time in my life that I used earplugs at an event for fear of going deaf. The square shaped LED screens, lasers, smoke and pyrotechnics offered unique and impressive visual accompaniment to the music.
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As for the music there was a little bit of everything to satisfy all tastes. On other side of the coin, this vast array of musical offerings leads in turn to very short sets for all of the artists except for the headliners. This is one of the things that I would like to see changed in the future for all massive events, not just EDC. Just cut down the list of talent to 90 DJs over 3 days and they would be able to offer at least a 2hr set to each and every artist, allowing them to give a more complete display of what their music is all about. Instead they are forced cram all their material into a very short one-hour time slot. Because of this it was very hard to find sets that had strong continuity and flow that gradually built up throughout. Sad because I think is one of the greatest aspects of dance music…the journey. Of all the artists I witnessed only a few (Richie Hawtin, Gaiser Markus Schulz) seemed to be successful in this regard. Nevertheless, there were a ton of great performances and it seemed that you were regularly being forced to make tough decisions to determine what you would be seeing next. Below is a day-by-day breakdown of the performances that StopBreatheBump caught over the weekend.
As we left in the morning sun for the third day in a row it was difficult to process the magnitude and scope of what we had just been through. In fact it really took day(s) for it all to sink in. It was without a doubt the biggest, loudest and most incredible musical experience of our lives bar none, and cannot wait for the 18th installment next summer.
An enormous thanks goes out to Insomniac and all of the fantastic artists who made the 17th Annual Electric Daisy Carnival what it was. Its equal can certainly not be found in North America and it is very close to being on par with European mega events such as Creamfields and Tomorrowland. With its fantastic execution, Insomniac successfully threw mud in the face of the countless critics who pushed the event from Los Angeles and tried to keep it out of Las Vegas once again!