Over the past 20 years, Insomniac Events’ Electric Daisy Carnival has provided long-lasting memories for attendees.
For today’s #EDC20 segment we are giving you the third part of Robert LeSage’s epic eleven year run of attending this event.
New to the story? Click HERE to read Part 1 – The NOS Years to catch up on the saga!
Miss Part 2? You can check that out HERE! And of course Part 3.1 is available by clicking HERE!
Eleven Years Of My Life (Part 3.2 – The Vegas Years)
Eleven years of my life. Eleven years of EDC, and I don’t regret a single moment. It’s exhilarating to know that no longer will I have to make travel arrangements and trek down to Los Angeles or San Bernardino to experience EDC. Now it’s literally in my own backyard!
After doing this year after year, you eventually end up with a list of artists that you will always see year after year. Of course there’s Above & Beyond, Kaskade, and for some Armin van Buuren. After 2013, I realized that Eric Prydz fits that bill perfectly. He plays a different set every time he performs and each time he keeps you guessing as to where he’s going. The first two years I saw him, he brought down the house with his visually striking “On/Off Lazer Beams” mash-up. Two tracks by Mr. Prydz himself will always remind me of past EDCs. “Generate” became an anthem of sorts as it was played throughout 2015 with the varying remixes and styles, while “Opus” became the ultimate anthem as it was debuted in its full glory at EDC 2015.
It’s usually tough to describe my love for electronic music, let alone EDC, to others. In fact, writing this series is causing me to dive further into my memories to find anecdotal experiences that could be relatable. I did my best to keep it to the music, but it’s tough when the music and the vibes just run through your veins and you have so many memories and details you want to recall.
EDC Las Vegas 2013
With the wind fiasco that occurred the previous year, we wanted to ensure that we only had good vibes this time around. We organized and attempted to get our rooms closer together, but alas that fell through. Some of us stayed at the Monte Carlo, some at the Paris, some at Mandalay Bay, some at Hooters, and even some at Cosmopolitan. My friend, Pat, decided to come in on a Thursday, so we opted to catch dinner before all the madness. We didn’t plan any EDC Week events as a three-day EDC is pretty much a marathon as it is. For dinner we decided on a place at Mandalay Place called RiRa’s. It’s a little Irish pub fabricated from restored pieces of a real pub from Ireland, and even some of the servers spend their summer’s waitressing away from the emerald isle. This was our first time there, but we didn’t know what to expect. We asked for recommendations and settled on Irish rolled sausages and shandies. It was amazing and little did we know, that this would become our new Pre-EDC tradition.
Before we even left for EDC day one, we headed over to the Cosmopolitan to meet up with the rest of our group for a little bit. On the walkway into the Cosmopolitan, we run into none other than Jeffrey Sutorius, aka Dash Berlin. It was at that point that we realized this weekend would be full of surprises. If you recall, in 2012 we ran into Kaskade, Jono from Above & Beyond, and even Armin van Buuren, all inside of the Cosmopolitan. It truly was the center of everything in regards to EDC.
We were fully prepared for Kinetic Field to be full of even more LED screens as that seemed to be the pattern from the past two years in Las Vegas. Walking in to EDC on day one was quite the surprise. The new Kinetic Field wasn’t LED screens, but it was just massive. It was very vibrant with giant day-glow colored scenic elements depicting a flowery field and giant mushrooms surrounding a giant bird nest. Wait a second, is that a giant blue owl with wings that are opening up? It is! Hold up, are its eyes moving? Is this thing expressing emotion? Wow, he looks angry! This was amazing! It added a completely new dynamic to how we experience EDC. It actually made me want to stay at the main stage, but I knew better. My only complaint for this stage design was how the massive owl covered the largest LED screen when its wings were fully expanded.
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The acts we saw on the first day were Dada Life, Knife Party, Bryan Kearney, and Armin van Buuren. This was actually the first time I’ve seen Dada Life, and wow was I a fan. Their visuals are hilariously composed and fits their personalities well. “Boing Clash Boom” and the accompanying Major Lazer remix would go on to be repeated months after EDC had ended. Knife Party was also pretty crazy. They played their hits “EDM Death Machine” and even “Internet Friends,” but it was “Centipede” that I looked forward to. Armin van Buuren played a mainstream set, but that’s what we expected playing on the main stage. After hearing “This Is What It Feels Like” all weekend long, it was no longer special. In fact, that weekend it became an anthem for feeling exhausted after every day partying under the electric sky. At the end of the day, we waited two hours to leave the parking lot. Thankfully we had a rental car with Sirius XM radio to play some tunes, but at this point I wanted another form of transportation. This came in the form of the official shuttles. I was able to find a couple shuttle passes via Craigslist and was able to take the shuttles from here on out. We would fall in love with this option and end up taking the shuttles the next few years.
On day two, I managed to get my older brother and his girlfriend some passes so that they can experience what I’ve been experiencing the past few years. I was a bit nervous, as my brother is not the type to enjoy large crowds. He doesn’t even enjoy going to concerts. We made plans for him to meet me at a certain spot at a certain time since I warned him about cell phone service. We met up and after walking around, I wanted them to experience a music set. Thankfully, they knew who Empire of the Sun were (who doesn’t?) and they just so happened to be playing EDC that year. Seeing my brother and his girlfriend smiling and singing along to “Walking On A Dream” and “We Are The People” made me happy. After their set, we parted ways. They went to go ride the free rides, but I recall him telling my father afterwards that he now understood why I keep going to these things. He even hung up the mask he made on his wall.
The third day was also fantastic, we saw Above & Beyond, Carl Cox, and Simon Patterson. Above & Beyond was typically full of feels. I don’t mind the Trance 2.0 sound as long as they keep the emotionally driven core. They played the Maor Levi remix of “Liquid Love” which I have been dying to hear for a while now. Another memorable moment was when they dropped a track that we now know as “Blue Sky Action.” When it was played, the lyrics led many to believe this track was called “King For A Day.” I would later hear it again, but in acoustic form at their acoustic show in October. Carl Cox was another memorable set as he was playing Kinetic Field! Usually the techno and deep artists are confined to the Neon Gardens, but he just went with it and owned it. I recall him playing some drum and bass at one point. Drum and bass on the main stage? How massive was that?!
EDC Las Vegas 2014
It took us a few years, and obviously a few tries; but this time we got our organizational skills on point. We had booked our rooms at the MGM Signature Suites and even managed to get all of our rooms in the same tower! We were determined to take advantage of all that EDC had to offer, so we decided to partake in an EDC Week event. We all decided to see the master Carl Cox at Light Nightclub on Thursday. Light was the newest club in Las Vegas that year and having Cirque Du Soleil involved in the production factored into our decision. At the time, I was also one of Light’s biggest fans. Most nightclubs in Las Vegas tend to have a cramped dance floor and a feeling of claustrophobia. That wasn’t the case with Light. It almost had a warehouse openness to it, with LED panels everywhere (including the ceiling).
As with every year, EDC Week gets bigger and with even more events! When we settled on Carl Cox, we didn’t anticipate any more events to be announced. Boy, were we wrong. Events kept being added, and ticket prices kept rising. Thankfully we hopped on the Carl Cox tickets when they went on sale. As EDC Week got closer, Madeon at Surrender was announced. A few folks in our group were huge fans, and we were devastated that we had already made plans. But wait, what’s that? Madeon is playing Wednesday and not Thursday!? We leapt at the opportunity, and just like that we were now attending two events that week.
With an addition to new plans, we had to reorganize and plan our trip for an additional day. I don’t remember the reasoning, but we opted to book a one night stay at Excalibur for that Wednesday night. Since 2013, we’ve made it a tradition to eat a dinner full of Irish rolled sausages and pints of shandy at RiRa’s inside the Mandalay Bay. Typically, we would opt to do the dinner on Thursday night, but since my group was in town a day early, we decided to do it Wednesday. Our game plan for that night was set. After dinner, we went back to the room to get dressed and head on over to Encore for Madeon.
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It was an interesting night. Before Madeon even got on stage, one of our own lost her wallet. EDC was in a few days! How will she get in? Her only forms of identification were in there! Will we have to make a quick road trip to California to get another form of ID? Will she just be stuck in the hotel room for three days? Our minds questioned for what seemed like hours while the others searched frantically. Eventually, by some sort of rave unicorn magic, she found a security guard who had it. Although it was missing the cash, everything else was present and accounted for. We were extremely relieved, and just in time for the 19 year old French prodigy to hit the decks. It was an amazing set, and if you stood in the right spot on the dance floor, you can glance upwards at the mirrors on the ceiling and see the maestro at work with his Novation Launchpad.
The next day we decided to have a dinner with the rest of the group as they came in. We decided upon Holstein’s at the Cosmopolitan due to their selection of bamboozled milkshakes. After we were seated, we looked around. Not more than two tables away was the Godfather himself, Pasquale Rotella, and Holly Madison. Little Rainbow was even wandering around saying hello at random tables. If there’s one thing I learned from hanging around the Cosmopolitan during EDC Week, it’s that you’re bound to run into DJs, Producers, and even the man who brought all of this together.
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After dinner, we went to Light for Carl Cox. We were joined by two others in our group who decided to go last minute. If you’ve ever been to a Carl Cox set, you know that he gives it his all. It was relentless and I was enjoying every minute of it. It was amazing to see performers dressed as superheroes bungee down the wall as the visuals played onomatopoeic comic book bubbles and skylines. Unfortunately since then, Light Nightclub has switched ownership and severed ties with Cirque Du Soleil. Eventually we retired for the night so we can rest up for the weekend’s festivities, but Carl Cox was prepared to go all night.
Seeing Insomniac’s entry into a more scenic and prop-filled Kinetic Field and the elaborately technical Circuit Grounds last year, there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to be wowed once again this year. Once we got through the gates, we explored and got our merchandise. Then we walked into the Kinetic Field. It was absolutely massive. I did not expect TWO giant owls compared to the one from last year, and the massive screens tucked behind cathedral-like arches. It was absolutely gorgeous, and probably my favorite stage to date. It was perfect. The owls had enough interaction with their eyes (a common theme since 2013), to command their presence, and the fire and water features worked amazingly well with the prop design.
On the first day, we spent most of our time exploring and experiencing the sights. The only sets that I can recall seeing were Armin van Buuren and Madeon (yes, again!). To be honest, we were only dedicated to seeing Madeon on day one, so we had no plans of seeing anyone else. Just like Wednesday night, Madeon was amazing. It was a breath of fresh air knowing that he doesn’t perform the same set twice. At the end we understood, yet again, why he is so favored and praised. I recall “The City” being played and it was just as amazing as I imagined it would be.
The second day was a bit different. I managed to get my little brother a ticket for day two (splitting it with two other friends on different days). He was on leave for the week and since my older brother got to experience a bit of EDC last year, I decided it was time for him to experience what I pretty much live for. Unlike my older brother, he actually listened and liked to some of the stuff I sent him. Ever since he went off into the military, he’s become a fan of the country genre, but he still dug the trance I sent him every now and then. That year I was sending him some new Gareth Emery tracks from his recently released album. It started with the Bryan Kearney remix of “U” featuring Bo Bruce, but he ended up getting the whole album. Coincidentally, Gareth Emery was set to perform the night he was attending. Although it was not my favorite set from Gareth Emery, the fact that I got to experience it with my little brother made it memorable. We also saw Dada Life, which was completely bananas, and Knife Party. The entire time we were watching Knife Party, I couldn’t stop being amazed by how bright the lighting was. They were flashing in shades of red and white, but man was it mesmerizing. We ran into a couple of good people while chilling at the Cosmic Meadow including a girl who was attending her first EDC. It was a bit otherworldly when your friends introduce you as an EDC veteran of ten years and seeing their faces light up in shock. That night we also saw Kaskade at Kinetic Field. He performed a good show as usual, but I absolutely love his filtered visuals of California beaches and waves. I felt they were perfect for the vibe he always portrays.
Day three was the night I was most excited for. Eric Prydz, Above & Beyond, and Maya Jane Coles were all three artists that I wanted to see the most that year. After finally seeing Eric Prydz the year prior, I knew that his set should not ever be missed. His mash-up of “On/Off” with “Lazer Beams” has also become a visual staple in his sets, and it still didn’t disappoint. Seeing those lasers soar above you while the crowd is unified in dance is such an amazing feeling. That night we also arrived at Above & Beyond’s set a bit late, but walking into Kinetic Field when they were dropping Andrew Bayer’s “Bullet Catch” with OceanLab’s “Breaking Ties” was jaw dropping. If you asked the group I was with, they would tell you how off the wall I was acting when I heard “Bullet Catch.” It was one of my favorite tracks that year, but hearing it with Justine Suissa’s lovely vocals threw me over the moon. That night I also snuck off to see Maya Jane Coles, who I have been dying to see. Hearing her play “Everything” and also watching the fireworks from Neon Garden was beautiful.
EDC Las Vegas 2015
The eleventh year. There’s no need to go over our lackluster organizational skills by this point, but this year ran by smoothly. We stayed at the Excalibur all weekend long and even purchased our shuttle passes in advance. Tchami was scheduled to play EDC Week at Las Vegas’ new nightclub offering, OMNIA. After our traditional Thursday Pre-EDC dinner at RiRa’s (more rolled sausages and shandies!), we headed off to Caesar’s Palace to see Tchami. If you’ve never been to OMNIA, I highly recommend to experience it at least once. The chandelier of rings is just absolutely stunning and makes you feel as if you’re being abducted. My only gripe with that nightclub venue is how packed and crowded it gets. Like its owner, Hakkasan, they pack it to the brim and it can take a while to move around from room to room.
On the first day, we waited in the long line at Excalibur to take our shuttle to the venue. Although it was a bit of a wait, everyone was in good spirits. The vibes were awesome and we even did a little pre-gaming in our hotel room before heading down so we were a bit buzzed. When it finally came time to board our bus, we noticed the air conditioner wasn’t turned on. That should’ve been the first sign that something was wrong, but we were feeling good and excited. Thankfully we were smart enough to bring water and some of those athletic cooling towels. On the way to Nellis Air Force Base (the route for shuttles and taxis), we noticed the air conditioning system was still blowing massively hot air. We attempted to deal with it, but we just kept sweating and burning up. We weren’t even at the venue yet! The last straw was when we finally arrived at the Nellis Air Force Base check-in. The bus driver completely forgot all his paperwork elsewhere and we weren’t allowed to use this route. They made us park outside and initially wouldn’t let us get off the bus. Finally, we all got up and started to get off the bus on our own. We tweeted Pasquale and he eventually responded with inquiries to the bus number so he could check it out while we were waiting. Eventually, a JUSCollege shuttle bus was heading back after dropping off their passengers. The bus driver was kind of enough to give us a quick ride to the venue after seeing the situation we were in. Kind of a sour note to start our weekend on; but if this was the worst we were going to experience, then I’ll deal with it.
Such an arduous journey, but finally we were home. Walking into the speedway after that ordeal was like a breath of cool fresh air. The venue looked amazing. Circuit Grounds was massive! Neon Garden finally had a unique look with the pyramid and lush fake grass. It just felt right. That day we saw Zomboy at Bass Pod. I’m not massively into dubstep, but I can get down to it with the right people. Our Canadian friend, Iris, invited us to tag along with her group. It was loud but it was an amazing experience. Such great vibes and Zomboy had such a unique presence. The stage was designed to look like some alien tripod machine and surrounding us were these technologic-esque towers shaped like hexagonal mines that shot out massive amounts of fire. If we thought we were burning up on the bus, then at Bass Pod we felt like we were on the surface of the sun. That night we also saw Kaskade at Kinetic Field. He always puts on a show and hearing “Atmosphere” for the first time was a surreal experience. He also dropped a mash-up that used “Eyes” and even played ”Summer Nights” which was considered the unequivocal anthem to EDC and it’s film, “Under The Electric Sky.” My friend Pat and I also caught a bit of his Redux set on the Mayan Art Car, where we heard “This Is How It Goes” featuring Haley. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard this track and I just was absolutely in awe. These were the sounds that brought him to where he is today.
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On the second day, the shuttles were much smoother. Arguably, day two was my favorite that year. I was able to see Above & Beyond at Kinetic Field and Eric Prydz at Circuit Grounds. Although Eric Prydz didn’t play his usual “On/Off Lazer Beams” mash-up, he still amazed us. We still got the amazing visuals of lasers soaring over us when he dropped “Rebel XX.” So glad he kept those visually appealing moments that he’s known for. I recall him opening up with “Generate” and our friends Edgar and Allison walked up with double drinks and we just started “shout-singing” the lyrics. He ended the set with an amazing new debut simply titled, “Opus.” Let me tell you, experiencing the tempo changes for the first time under the mega structure was just surreal. That track takes you on a journey like no other. I immediately fell in love. Above & Beyond that night was memorable for another reason. During “Walter White,” they brought up none other than Mr. White himself, Bryan Cranston. At first I thought it was a joke. Why would they do a “Push The Button” moment on a track that’s years old? I even looked to my friend Pat, like “WTF?” Then the signature voice comes on and we were just in shock. First of all, what was he doing there? Second of all, how did Above & Beyond come into contact with him?! In typical fashion, they brought the emotions. Day two happened to fall on father’s day, and when “Thing Called Love” came on, they sent a reminder that “there’s no love like between a father and child.” I actually got my father to listen to Above & Beyond through the magic of their acoustic album, so this meant even more to me. I captured a quick video and texted it to him. They even ended their set with Zoe Johnston’s “Treasure” and interlaced their visuals with photos of fan moments. There were certainly tears of joy spread amongst the crowd on that very evening.
The third day we opted to start our day to the relentless sounds of Pan-Pot. I’ve always wanted to check them out, but never had the opportunity to. They most definitely made me a fan, and I was sure to purchase their new album and subsequent remix album a few months later. It was such a perfect set to start our day as it ensured we all were on the same groove. I’m not sure exactly how to explain the decor of the Neon Garden, but I always thought of it as some sort of alien biome with the artificial grass and a giant cosmic willow tree in the center. On our way to Cosmic Meadow to see Alison Wonderland, we stopped by EDC Town. Here, you were able to see silent movies, watch a few weddings, and even send some real post cards via their post office. We decided to send post-cards to all our friends who couldn’t make it that year, including one currently living in Japan. I opted to send one to myself to remember this moment and never let it pass you by.
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At Cosmic Meadow, we saw Alison Wonderland do her thing. Like dubstep, I’m not one hundred percent committed to trap. However, after seeing Alison, I’m one hundred percent committed to her. She was just on her A-game and seeing her actually crying in joy during her set was humbling. Also at Cosmic Meadow was Seven Lions. He absolutely destroyed with his signature mix of trance and dubstep. I don’t know how this man does it, but every single time I’ve seen him I’m amazed. He debuted the festival mix of his track, “Falling Away” featuring Lights and it was beautiful. The flag I designed for our group that year (Groot glowsticking!) ended up on the trailer video he would later post.
(Our flag is at the 5 second mark!)
It wouldn’t be day three if we didn’t experience some trance along the way. We ventured back to Circuit Grounds to experience the sounds of Gaia, Ferry Corsten, and Cosmic Gate. It was all amazing, but the memory of watching the fireworks with some of my closest friends when Ferry Corsten dropped Dimension’s “Origami” is the one I’ll keep coming back to.
For those of you that know me, I seem to go on and on about EDC. EDC this and EDC that. I’m hoping that with this series of my past eleven years of experiencing this music festival that there ends up being a level of understanding and perhaps a wandering curiosity that might one day enable you to join me in the future. It’s a bit cliché to say, but it truly is a world of understanding and unity that has enabled me to evolve into the person that I am today. I live and breathe electronic music. I’ve gone through the many stages of the festival attendee, be it kandi kid, jaded junglist, or even the monochromatic techno lover. I still enjoy every aspect of the culture. For the twelfth time, I hope to see you under the electric sky.