In its explosive growth, the Electric Daisy Carnival has seen both significant upsides and marked downsides over the past several years. Moving from its former Los Angeles home to a relatively remote Las Vegas venue, the party has shifted inland to the desert and multiplied attendance. But how does one scale out a festival to make it a fully immersive experience, even with 135,000 in attendance?
In short, it’s not easy, and EDC is still working out its growing-pain kinks – and this goes beyond the medical issues and felony arrests. In moving from five to eight official stages with a myriad of art cars and corporate-sponsored DJ hangouts, the experience can be subjective and overwhelming. If you’re a lone-wolf, the experience can be far more uneven than insulated by a raver squad of friends buoying one another and contributing to the collective energy/direction. Whoever’s in charge of transportation for any given crew is undoubtedly already thinking about the sea of brakelights at the exit, taking as much as four hours to move from “I found my car!” celebration to actual parking lot jettison. And let’s not get started on those annoying-ass selfie sticks.
The party, however, is an outrageous blast of pyrotechnics, fireworks, dazzling lights and larger-than-life visual installments. Highlight performances and details can be found below.
With a little help from my… dealer?
Above & Beyond delivered a career-spanning set of bangers in their victory-lap set, wowing fans with the surprise arrival of Bryan Cranston, aka Walter White, who pressed the button for the drop in their track named after him. They ended with a slideshow celebrating Father’s Day.
12 Planet defies bad luck with dedicated fans
12th Planet’s power blackout on the Bass Pod stage was a heartbreaker, but his loyal and patient fanbase simply sat down and waited for the tech difficulties to be solved rather than find another place to party. His truncated set was celebrated like the turn of the millennium, and a triumphant redemption was had. To the credit of his dedicated fanbase, the crowd’s core remains invested and empathetic to what’s happening by sitting down and patiently waiting for the sound to resume. Surreal: the LA dubstep hero singing “if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands” to a wildly enthusiastic crowd.
The rumbling BassPod stage area mostly showcased the slower-tempoed dubstep this weekend, but once in awhile, acts like Ed Rush and Optical would unleash the hyper-breaks of drum ’n’ bass upon both fans and curious onlookers—a throwback to EDC 2000 when my friends and I took in our first-ever d-n-b set, performed by Dieselboy (who closed BassPod and Friday night’s party on the Speedway). At the bass-themed stage where he performed at EDC 2000, you only heard scant hip-hop influences, especially if an MC appeared. But 15 years later, rap has crashed the EDM party as trap music, which also informed the BassPod soundtrack. DJs didn’t even need the trap template to play straight-up hip-hop, evidenced in how many times I heard O.T. Genasis’ mind-numbingly stupid hit, “I’m in Love with the Coco.”
Kaskade conquers, teases the future
Buoyed by his new track “We Don’t Stop” at the strobe wonderland known as KineticFields, Kaskade delivered one of the most powerful sets of the entire weekend. “I’ve seen a lot of clubs and festivals,” he said before the new jam drop. ”I’ve been around a long time and people said ‘this is just a fad, it’s not gonna last. It’s just something going on in Chicago. But then I moved to SF and we’re doing this too. No matter where I go in the world, we don’t stop. I wrote this one for you guys, because we’re still doing this.”
Packing ‘em in: Disclosure
Widely considered to be one of the weekend’s strongest sets, Disclosure performed in the absolutely packed Neon Garden tent, sending more than a few to the medical area as temps still hovered at triple digits in the night hours. Howard and Guy Lawrence kicked off with their 2013 hit “When a Fire Starts to Burn,” perhaps a little too appropriate for the heat-stroke-baiting experience.
Moby: A rare sighting
Oh, you think Moby’s just a skinny little bald vegan who doesn’t ever leave L.A.? Well, you may not be entirely wrong. But as he showed at EDC Vegas, a full-throttle house assault is always at the ready. With a giant LED display showing “DJ MOBY” in huge text rotating above his head, Richard Melville Hall showed his total lack of butthurt concern over being labeled a “DJ” (something his peers could stand to care a good bit less about).
Duke Dumont gets amazing with a live band
The multiple Grammy nominee was joined onstage by a small live band, a sharp departure from the mixing-consoles and laptops gear quota for nearly all other artists. This brought a new vitality to songs like “Won’t Look Back,” and hopefully inspired others to step out from behind the laptop and make some live sounds in this canned bass-drop factory.
If you’re a neon warrior looking to party with your people for a full weekend of visually dazzling gut-rumbling bass overload and dance insanity, you could do far worse than EDC Las Vegas.