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Favorite ThisA reflective look back at Electric Daisy Carnival (Las Vegas, NV - June 20-22)

Published: July 15, 2014

By: Kate Webster

“EDC is like a world in itself,” says Andy C, leaning back in his chair in the air-conditioned Media Center on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, “The production is like nothing I’ve ever seen. I think every year Pasquale just keeps adding more like, ‘Can we do this? Why not!’”

Looking out over the jam-packed festival grounds, sitting with one of the most accomplished DJs in the world, really makes one think: what is it exactly that sets the VIP’s apart from the masses? Years of dedication to an obscure genre that still may never come to the forefront of pop culture? Lawsuits claiming embezzlement and court cases surrounding the drug overdoses of minors? From the darkest, grimiest parts of the underground scene to the executive suite at the Cosmopolitan- how exactly did this multi-million dollar rocket ship take off? And, more importantly, where is it headed?

Since The Electric Daisy Carnival found its new home in 2011, the party has earned the reputation of being the enthusiastic, naive step child of Las Vegas that rolls into town once a year to get trashed and ask for more money. Walking down The Strip, chants of “E! D! C!” ring out between groups of partiers with bulging muscles and store-bought Go Go outfits. Sugary slush drinks the size of small children are guzzled at record speeds in true American fashion. These may be sights common to Vegas all year round, but the sideways glares from older couples just trying to enjoy their vacation are saved for the abrasive youth that roll into town for one week at the end of June.

That being said, once you pass the relationship test with your friends of sitting in 3 hours of traffic just to get into the parking lot, there are few feelings in the world that can match standing on the top of the Speedway bleachers, overlooking the electric wonderland that is EDC. Suddenly the stress and judgment start to disappear with the sun. As the sky darkens and you approach the booming, magnetic stage, the resistance melts away and you begin to feel free. The production at EDC is truly like nothing else in the world. While other countries may have more picturesque scenery or more established musical acts– Insomniac’s art installations, carnival rides, and stage production are what have earned the event international recognition.

In their review of this year’s EDC, the LA Times noted that, “the music [of EDC] is– if not a secondary concern– mostly now just the backdrop.” Maybe it was the sheer size of the crowd, or maybe it was the actual intention of the festival coordinators—but a good portion of EDC “headliners” seemed to have no connection to the music whatsoever. When asked who they came to see, most responded with a shrug, “I don’t know,” they’d say with a smile, “everyone!” It made you wonder how many of them were dedicated to contributing to the scene, and how many were just there for a vacation and a couple of cool pictures. Yet there was still a solid portion of old school ravers and genre-snobs to be found. You could spot them in the crowd–-eyes closed in concentration, bodies releasing to the beat completely. They were approachable and seemed genuinely interested in making friends, unafraid to make eye contact. They mostly seemed to be getting funky with Carl Cox at the Neon Garden stage, stomping around at Bass Con, or jungle skanking at the Bass Pod. Save the mainstream for the Cosmic Meadow, the best music of the weekend was consistently bumping from the art cars– where more progressive, independent artists got the chance to shine.

As EDC and “EDM” get bigger and bigger, it’s natural that the crowd will become more diverse in musical taste as well as in party perspective. The “Peace” and “Love” are alive and well at EDC, but the “Unity” and “Respect” are almost non-existent. Maybe if Insomniac invested a little more effort in creating a sense of community instead of just a corporate spectacle, the event would feel more united. But maybe we all need to realize this first.

Somewhere on the stage, three stories high and a hundred feet back from the crowd, Andy C manages to connect with each and every junglist in the pit, and leaves the rest in a daze. “I remember when I used to feel something, I remember when I used to feel something…” blares the Chase & Status tune from speakers at the Bass Pod on Sunday night. Most of the crowd smiles and bops around, taking kissing photos with their bffs in sweet bliss. A few close their eyes or look at the dusty ground, letting the words reverberate through their bones. “Now I’m just cold inside,” they chant in unison.

Tags: Drum and Bass