Never would I imagine that a place like Las Vegas would take people back to their childhood. But that’s exactly what Insomniac’s premium festival experience, Electric Daisy Carnival, did. EDC LV was a memorable experience not only because it had an endless line up of DJs and performers; the vibe and unity created by those in attendance also extended the experience beyond the Motor Speedway and into the strip of Vegas itself.
The Vegas strip was decked out in advertisements for pool and nightclub parties with DJs faces on them and cars marked with peace signs, flowers, smiley faces and rave-related messages were on every street. Many dub Las Vegas as the new Ibiza and they might be right. Vegas has been a popular spot for DJs to land residencies this year and every day I was hearing about my friends’ experiences at the pool parties they were attending.
The night before the first day of EDC, my Toronto friends came over to my hotel suite and we shared our experiences on the strip so far over drinks. Shifting our focus to the main event, EDC, the guys were talking about their LED gloves and orbit lightshows while the girls showed each other their custom made outfits for the festival. I decided to sleep early to rest up for a very long weekend of festivities ahead of me, but I was very excited.
The EDC journey started at the line up for the shuttle – everyone, including Insomniac staff, were cheering together. The bus ride lingered with conversations about rave experiences as well as everyone’s game plan for the weekend. Many were also trading kandi while in the lineup, on the bus, and at the ticket booths.
The shuttles were very accessible and arrived at the speedway in a timely fashion. This year they took a route that cuts through the US Air Force base making it safer and speedier to get to the festival. I highly recommend buying a shuttle pass directly from Insomniac to avoid any issues.
As I arrived at the venue, I remember, vividly, the crowd outside looking like a sea. My friends and I were immediately hit by a rush of energy and we were instantly hyped to start partying. Despite there being hundreds of people around the area, the staff at will call was very helpful and we managed to get our entry cards in less than 10 minutes.
A memory I will not forget is walking through the stadium and seeing the lights, stages, carnival rides, art installations with the desert and the orange sunset in the background. It was a breath taking view. On the grass grounds of the speedway several art installations where situated and that’s where people mainly went to sit down, eat, give lightshows and in some cases had a disco nap.
Once we got inside, we stored our basics in our reserved lockers and started exploring the festival. We got on the ferris wheel, where my girlfriend shed tears of joy at how beautiful the scenery was after the sunset. Some of the other rides gave me the time of my life too. I remember going on the Mega-Dropzone and, as it raised me in the air, I caught a glimpse of the Las Vegas skyline before it dropped me straight to the ground where I was back in a dream world. It was a humbling experience.
As for the music and various stages, Basscon really captured my attention with the psy trance and other hard styles of dance music. The stage had a character in the centre overlooking the audience, wearing a gas mask with LED screens in the eye sockets. Three watchtowers were installed in the area and there was a lot of smoke and fire coming from the stage when things got crazy. Lisa Lashes, Simon Patterson and Bryan Kearney had great sets and fit the vibes perfectly at Basscon.
Above & Beyond was able to attract the biggest audience to my experience throughout the weekend. As Carl Cox vacated the DJ booth, the crowd went silent until the group therapy ribbons showed up on the screens. During that set, the Kinetic Field stage had a vibe that is hard to describe. During the breakdown of Walter White, they had imagery on the LED screens showing a map of the world pulsing; for me that was a very moving experience as it made me think of all the struggles we go through in life and yet, how so many people from all over the world came to EDC to experience and share a moment like that. It was a very positive feeling that I only (and rarely) get to experience at raves. It is also why I go to electronic music events.
The main stage wrapped around the guests and had a forest theme throughout. The DJ booth had an owl wrapping its wings around it and they would open up every time a new DJ got on the decks. The main stage was always full of energy, every time I walked by big anthems were being played and there was more traffic than usual compared to the other stages.
Neon Garden and Circuit Grounds were simply designed but had really cool lighting and production to them. My most notable experiences at these stages were created by Adam Beyer, Green Velvet, Dirty South and John Digweed. La Roux also captured my attention at Circuit Grounds as she brought a live band and provided live vocals. I thought it was a great break considering most of the line-up was for DJ sets. La Roux had a very positive and uplifting atmosphere that was very different than what that stage was typically hosting.
The BassPod had a round design and featured heavy drum ‘n bass, dubstep and trap DJs. Out of all the stages, I would say that it was shooting fire the most and had lots of MCs. Although I wasn’t into the music, I thought it was a great experience regardless.
My favourite experience that weekend was hearing Booka Shade at Cosmic Meadow before leaving to go back to my hotel room. Some amazing deep house was being played – the kind of stuff I never get to hear back home. It had a very after-hours feeling to it and it was just amazing to hear sounds like that outside of a club environment.
The main thing I noticed about EDC is that even those who were new to the music were being very respectful of everyone. It helped that every stage accommodated all different tastes but I encountered some people who were stepping out of the comfort zone; where in most cases they would be at a big room house DJ set, they would lose themselves in the techno area – something I don’t see very often in Toronto.
Insomniac turned the racetrack into a magical place where everyone could become a kid again and have fun without judgment, negativity and danger. From the entire weekend, my only moment of sadness came when I was looking out the airplane window and spotted the speedway fully lit, just close enough to notice that half of the stages were already taken down. There are a thousand reasons I could list of why you should attend Electric Daisy Carnival but it truly is something any electronic music fan should experience firsthand. The crowd, staff and security were diverse, friendly, accepting and down to have a great time. All of these elements came together and made the festival such an amazing experience that I will forever hold in my memory.
‘Till next year!
– Ani H.