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Favorite ThisFear and Loathing: The 2010 Electric Daisy Carnival

Published: June 29, 2010

By: Aaron Gaudette

“We were somewhere near Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold…”

I wasn’t on my way to Las Vegas, however, nor had I taken any drugs. I was on my way to the 14th annual Electric Daisy Carnival in the heart of the City of Lost Angeles—a  place sure to inspire some fear and loathing—preparing myself for total immersion into a glow-stick culture that has been growing along with this event for many years now. And I was not disappointed.

The line-up for the event spoke for itself, with literally too many big-name artists to be seen within the span of one weekend. But alas, decisions must be made, and enthusiasts of all genres of electronic music were sure to have their plates full with whichever path they chose to take through the mayhem that ensued.

The Friday route I embarked upon with my little sister, my partner-in-crime for the weekend and an EDC veteran, was straightforward enough: CongoRock and SpankRock followed by Excision, then Steve Aoki, and after that the musical onslaught that was Swedish House Mafia, Kaskade and Deadmau5—all in a row, in the USC Coliseum (dubbed Kinetic Field for EDC’s purposes). 

Needless to say that the floor of the Coliseum had long since reached capacity when we began the exodus from Steve Aoki’s set—an eardrum-wrenching, heart-pounding visual and auditory bombardment that featured Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo and Crunk-legend Lil John doing their part to maximize the intensity that Aoki is known for. Having never seen Aoki before, I was pleased to find that he had lived up to the hype that I’d heard about his sets and left his show an even bigger fan than I was before.   

But with the floor packed with tens of thousands of ravers, revelers, and all-out dance freaks, my team and I were relegated to the bleachers of the Coliseum, a venue that annually hosts over 93,000 fans for each of the USC football team’s home games. No bother, as the view from the seats was spectacular and, upon seeing the throng of people that occupied the floor of the venue, I wondered how long I’d be able to endure such an impenetrable mass while still managing to enjoy the show.

Kaskade and Deadmau5 absolutely killed their sets, which most dance enthusiasts know to be pretty much an assumption if they’ve ever seen them live before. However, Swedish House Mafia, whose work I was unfamiliar with prior to the festival, really got the crowd jumping before these two and provided me with some new fodder to fill my computer with upon my return to San Diego.

Once Deadmau5 had finished his set, it was time to find everyone that I’d lost and figure out a way back to where we were staying to try and get some sleep before doing it all over again the next day.    Which we emphatically did, albeit a little later than we’d have liked to after watching a certain country’s soccer team underperform yet again at a certain quadrennial tournament…but I digress. 

The lineup on this day was just as stacked as it had been the day before, with pregame stops at Huoratron and Sound of Stereo before migrating to the Coliseum for Laidback Luke, Benny Benassi, and Above & Beyond.  Benassi wrecked shop as always, and Laidback Luke did an impressive job to reinvigorate a crowd who had lost some of its livelihood after the previous performer (Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas) halted his show to plead with the crowd to stop hopping the fences to gain access to the stadium floor.

After that, a lovely young lady conjured up a VIP bracelet for me out of seemingly thin air and we were immediately off to catch Fedde le Grand and Boys Noize at the Circuit Grounds stage. As I sat on the plush accommodations of the stage’s VIP area, I was treated to an array of optical and auricular stimulations as Fedde blew me and the crowd away with his performance and Boys Noize featured enough booming bass and pyrotechnics to give an epileptic nightmares. Too strong?  Perhaps, but it was a fitting cap to a weekend that featured enough glow sticks and fireworks to give any potentially-invading UFO pause.

So what was one to think, when all was said and done? Well, perhaps it can be best summarized like this: The Electric Daisy Carnival, which has grown each year to the point that it’s been expanded to two days as well as to various other cities across the country, hosted more than 185,000 attendees over two days in Los Angeles this year. 

Of those attending, around 220 were injured, and about half of those required hospitalization—in other words, 0.1% of those who attended were injured in some way or form, and it can be assumed that a fair chunk were injured by their own hands.

There were around 60 arrests, mostly for narcotics possession and sales—and it’s also fair to assume that those who got caught were dumb enough to be pushing their product in front of or to the cops.

But that’s about the long and short of the negative aspects of the festival. What was positive about it? Gee, I don’t know specifically, but it would probably have to be EVERYTHING. Being able to see that many artists in two days is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that these guys put on every year!

If there was one thing I didn’t like about the festival, it was that there was too much to do—kind of like being five years old with only one day at Disneyland. And the fact that there was so much going on made it difficult for it all to adequately sink in. Especially as I write this half-coherent rant regarding my experience there, I know that there are countless details, both major and minor, that I must be forgetting.

Nevertheless, the weekend I spent at the festival was epic, as cliché as that sounds, and my ticket for next year is already punched. Only 360 more days to go!!!

Tags: DubstepHouseDowntempoElectroTranceTechno