Epic Days of Cacophony @ Electric Daisy Carnival: DAY 1
Hello freaks! I am doing something a little bit different with my EDC review; I attended the massive rave on the press pass tip and took my friend Skandar from San Diego. Not only are his cargo pockets good for sneaking in various party paraphernalia, but he also writes, and as a DJ is privy to some insights that escape this dancing queen. I will be mixing our reviews together to give you a different voice and perspective on the carnival; his words are in green.
Did somebody say rave?
If there was any doubt to the existence or relevance or dominance of rave culture in America, this past weekend showed that the candy kid community is alive and well, wearing next-to-nothing and shaking its ass like there might be no tomorrow- a pretty smart move in this day and age.
Over 135,000 ravers came out to downtown Los Angeles (90,000 on Saturday alone) to dance, drink, drug, stare up in wonder at art installations, put music in their earholes, take free carnival rides and say, “Holy SHIT look at all the fucking people here!”
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was the location of just one of the five stages and the scale and grandeur of the former sports arena overwhelmed me, even more so than the Colosseum in Rome once did. The dance floor was a football field full of whirling, squirming, spinning freaks, and that was just ONE of the stages set up for this massive rave, which has now been hailed as the largest festival in the United States and possibly the world.
One thing is certain- the Electric Daisy Carnival was the biggest party that I have ever been to. I was completely blown away by the magnitude of the event and by the legions of ravers that crawled out of whatever fuzzy backpacks they had been hiding in. I saw candy up to the armpits, plenty of hot young T&A, LEDs blinking in the mouths of teenage boys in day-glo biker shorts, more light shows than a meteor shower, and fuzzy pink backpacks wearing candy and pacifiers and LED toys. The rave was ON with ridiculous visuals and enough lasers to last until next year- because I am definitely going back!
Friday night I drove up to LA after work and scrambled to get to the press area before they closed it at 10. We got our passes off-site and then found parking, which happened to be kind of far from the artist/press entrance and they wouldn’t let us into the regular admission entrance (I guess all-access only counts once you’re inside). We found our gate with a little cardboard “artist entrance” sign and walked right in. It was pretty cool walking past all the backstage trailers with artist names taped on the doors, but we weren’t trying to dilly dally so we ran towards the music. We spent a little bit of time walking around and finding our bearings, checking out the different stage setups and art installations – I was really happy to see so much Burner art on display, and ran into a bunch of my friends stilt walking. The huge wrought iron human sculptures were my favorite, I had seen a few of them on the Playa a couple years back. There was no cutting corners or skimping on any part of this festival: every single stage displayed booming sound, intelligent lighting, lasers, visuals, and decor. A plethora of carnival rides included gut-wrenching spinners as well as a family-friendly ferris wheel, fun house, and merry-go-round.
Friday was the chill day with only 45,000 kids running amok in between whizzing carnival rides and cuddle puddles. And by ‘kids,’ I mean anyone younger than me. After checking out the screaming DNB stage for a quick minute, I happenstanced upon what was probably my favorite moment of the festival:
We approached the Circuit Grounds Stage with perfect timing, because just as we entered the very back of the open-field dance floor, the booming bass of Pretty Lights raked over my body and tickled my mind. They had just launched into my very favorite song of theirs, “Who Loves Me.”
Half skipping, half running, half dancing and half laughing as I made my way up towards the stage, the crowd got thicker and thicker and my heartbeat faster and faster. At EDC Pretty Lights was just one guy and just one DJ set, but he was throwing thundering monsoons of bass across a crowd of a dozen thousand. My carnival had begun.
Chilled at the DnB stage for a bit but from the lineup I knew this would be a bang-your-head-against-the-wall type of DnB night, which I was not ready for at that point, so we made our way to Pretty Lights. Throwing down old school verses of Biggie Smalls and Wu-Tang Clan (Cream get the money!) over original tunes with massive basslines and glitched-out melodies, Pretty Light(s) defied genres with a brilliant Ableton Live/midi/turntablist scratching set.The Glitch Mob would have been proud. Closing out with a mashup of M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” and Wrecks ‘n Effects “Rump Shaker” made this the set of the night.
After a quick ten-dollar MGD it was time for STS9 and as per usual, the band was a bit too mellow for me; then again I have more energy than anyone I know and tend towards intensely potent music that is burning the world down, so STS9 is probably right on the mark for most people. The crowd did seem a little shy on the roving neohippies that usually follow the band; maybe the steep ticket prices dissuaded them from attending.
Following Pretty Lights was the much-anticipated Sound Tribe Sector Nine, a staple of the neo-hippie scene and a band at the forefront of the jam band/electronica hybrids (what I like to call “hippietronica”). Seeming to never get fully into the crowd, however, STS9 went “artsy” rather than “rave” and began losing the crowd immediately. After about 30 minutes of waiting for the set to build up we decided that they lost their chance and went to check out the main stage for the first time – luckily right on cue for the night’s big fireworks display. Quite an impressive little show of colorful explosions while ATB doused the coliseum crowd of about 10,000 in cheesy trance.
Off to the GIANT Kinetic Field in the stadium where ATB was drenching the night in the world’s most popular EDM genre: trance. Even my bass-favoring self could not help but be moved at the sight of a football field full of happy people having the time of their lives and trancing it up. DAMN I love my international electronic music community! Right on cue a huge gang of fireworks hit the night sky to thousands of oohs and aahs along with fifty-foot plumes of fire shooting up on either side of the stage and a billion lasers blazing over the tripping faces of the crowd. It was nothing short of spectacular; at that moment I could not conceive why anyone would not want to be in our world, the world of a happy dancing music-loving freaks.
As soon as the fireworks blew their load we headed over to Boys Noize at the Neon Garden stage whose tech-thick electro had the crowd worked into a lather. There we heard the first Michael Jackson tribute of the weekend, an a’cappella version of “Rock With You.” A dozen thousand people paid tribute to the King of Pop whose influence on music and American culture is undeniable; we all shared a moment that no doubt even the Michael-haters felt. I wanted to hold up my lighter but had already lost it, and God knows I leave my cellphone in the car at these events lest I lose it. Again.
After the fireworks ended we didn’t have much time left since Friday night was ending at 2 AM, so we made it over to the only stage we hadn’t checked out yet – the Neon Garden. Not being a huge fan of electro I was kind of avoiding that stage, however when we got into the thick of it I was locked into place by a deliciously techy set of electro by Boys Noize – again only one member of the group, but he played an impressive live set. Surprised that I had not heard a single Michael Jackson remix yet at the festival, I was glad that the first one was a tastefully done “Rock With You.” Though he focused a bit too much on manufactured buildups & breakdowns for his live performance, the crowd ate it up, especially at the end when he dropped some straight up hardcore followed by Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” to close out.
TUNE IN NEXT TIME FOR DAY 2 OF THE ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL! SHIT’S SO BIG I HAD TO BREAK IT INTO TWO REVIEWS!!
Read the Electric Daisy Carnival Day 2 HERE.