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“How Does It Sound if We Spend Three Nights Out?”
The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience: Accounts from a First Timer

As an avid electronic dance music fan who has attended festivals from Ultra to Identity, and even Electric Daisy Carnival’s Orlando iteration, I thought I knew what to expect from Electric Daisy Carnival’s hallmark Las Vegas weekend. Little did I realize, however, how right Insomniac CEO/founder Pasquale Rotella was about EDC Las Vegas: it is a fully immersive experience from beginning to end.

Like most large festivals, there is absolutely no dearth of pre-parties or pool parties (especially in Las Vegas). On the Thursday prior to EDC weekend, for instance, the Cosmopolitan Hotel’s Marquee Dayclub hosted a free party featuring London duo the EC Twins. Although the venue is a far cry from the shores of Ibiza, it easily hosted a sizeable, bottle-wielding crowd and the EC Twins’ formidable bass. Another of Insomniac’s featured pre-parties for EDC took place at well-known after-hours spot Drai’s; the event went up against Hardwell at Lavo and Dash Berlin and ATB at TAO, but Richie Hawtin was the main event at the intimate party. From 1 AM until the wee hours of the morning, Richie filled the club with Detroit techno sounds that left EDC-goers and Las Vegas residents no other choice but to party on into the first day of EDC.

The first day of EDC went largely as expected: excitement to spare, a little bit of chaos and a whole lot of waiting. One downfall of the entire EDC experience was the long journey to and from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 15-mile trip from the Strip to the Speedway took hours for packed cars of festival-goers and shuttle buses alike. Luckily, Insomniac staff handled security and check-in lines so efficiently that, for most guests, the entire process took no more than 20 minutes once they finally arrived.

Needless to say, the hassle was well worth it. Descending the Speedway’s steep grandstands to enter the festival grounds was nothing short of breathtaking. The entire carnival was a spectacle of lights, pyro, interactive art installations and, of course, seven elaborate stages. Favorite sets of the night included Gareth Emery and Thomas Gold, as well as Kaskade’s main stage performance. The latter’s show included stunning LED graphics and a fireworks display, along with parachuters who dropped from the sky with bursts of flame. They had cameras affixed to their helmets so that the crowd, too, could see the festival from on high.

Night two of Electric Daisy Carnival and the trek to the Speedway began without a hitch but, unexpectedly, Darude’s “Sandstorm” became the evening’s ironic theme song; high-speed winds blew through the desert, causing the whole festival to close down for the evening. Unfortunately, during killer sets by Calvin Harris on the main stage and Markus Schulz on the Circuit Grounds stage, abrupt announcements sounded more like a joke. Members of the production crew took to the mics mid-set to announce that strong winds were forcing the stages to shut down.

While guests were urged to head to the grandstands and away from the stages, Armin van Buuren reassured fans that Markus and he would keep broadcasting live in the studio to keep the party going. Some attendees referred to Markus Schulz as their hero after the night, heralding his persistence in trying to please fans. To try to calm the beast of a crowd that was headed to the grandstands, a small boat on wheels continued to play music throughout the wait. No official announcements were made, and some antsy attendees waited around for some hope of redemption while others trickled out slowly. For the lucky ones that stood their ground, however, they received a surprise when Markus Schulz and Steve Aoki decided to play an impromptu mini-set. Rumors of refunds, reschedules and set time changes floated among the crowd and on Twitter, but no official announcement by Insomniac was made until after 2 AM that night.

EDC’s last night saw weary, somewhat petulant attendees making their way to the Speedway for one more night of dancing. What most did not know, however, was the extent to which Insomniac wanted to make up for the prior night’s shutdown. Instead of adding more time to day three or rescheduling all artists, Insomniac decided to honor Saturday-only on Sunday as well. Despite the massive number of people that flooded the festival grounds, Sunday seemed to run smoothly, with Avicii and Armin Van Buurin given the chance to spin after being shafted the night before.

On the main stage, Porter Robinson wowed fans with smooth, melodic transitions that offset his rugged sound. Porter’s beautiful single “Language” seemed to be one of the anthems of the fest overall, as it made appearances in numerous other sets. Other main stage acts such as David Guetta and Pretty Lights were overflowing with energy, making up for Saturday night’s buzzkill. Meanwhile, at the Circuit Grounds stage, Armin van Buuren, ATB, Dash Berlin, and Ferry Corsten had trance enthusiasts with their eyes fixed on the stage. Despite an unenviable 4 AM – 5 AM set, Dada Life kept dedicated partiers moving with funky visuals and a unique energy that not many artists could muster. Some closed out their experience by watching New York house legend Danny Tenaglia perform on the grassy, relaxed Cosmic Meadow stage, while others stayed by the main stage to hear Funkagenda spin a short 30 minutes of deep house, letting down fans gracefully after a long and unforgettable weekend.

Images Credit:
© Erik Kabik Photography llc.