What does the Electric Daisy Carnival mean to you? For some people it’s a place to discover new music, make new friends, or show off their dance moves. Others work hour-after-hour on outfits, totems, and a plethora of kandi to trade with others. You can see the happiness in people’s faces as they are blown away by the magic that Insomniac Events brings with them every year to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. For one weekend in June, a racetrack is transformed into an other-worldly place…a place that I like to call home.
I don’t think you can really understand the energy that is there without attending. You can watch the trailers and aftermovies and get an idea of the immensity of the event…but you’ll still miss the feeling of actually being there. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the fact that they do the live stream on an annual basis now, but you’ll never have the experience that attendees actually have just by looking at those. There isn’t a “sightseeing cam” that really shows off the true experience that is the Electric Daisy Carnival, and I’m fine with that. Please, don’t get any ideas, let’s keep what happens during the festival something special for attendees.
The 20th Anniversary of the Electric Daisy Carnival was not just a celebration of two decades of great music and memories, but also brought on some massive shoes for Pasquale Rotella and Insomniac Events to fill. It wasn’t shocking to me that the lead up to the festival was filled with complaints from unappreciative ravers who were clamoring for a lineup or blaming the company for third party problems. All of that though, all of the problems and complaints, began to slowly wash away as the event was set to take place. Once people started to step foot into the festival grounds it was like night and day compared to how many of them had been acting up in the months prior, funny how that works. Sure, I don’t think anyone had much of a streamlined, easy experience this year but nothing good comes easy…I was ready for a weekend that was going to be one for the ages.
After three years of running with the dedicated Insomniac Shuttles for EDC, I made the executive decision to switch to JusCollege. I know they got some flack in the lead up, but honestly they weren’t the worst company of the bunch and the stop was fairly close. Granted, there were horror stories with JusCollege, Insomniac, and other shuttle companies…so I would read everyone’s personal experience to get a better idea about their service. We boarded the shuttle and departed for EDC, everyone on the bus as excited as possible which led to our driver even going the extra mile and probably shaving off an extra hour or two of traffic with some seriously epic driving.
Walking into the speedway, hearing the thud of the beat and seeing the lights, lasers, and pyrotechnics just gets me every year. It’s like entering into another world, another dimension…
I know that the festival this year was basically the same layout as 2015, but it’s just something you simply have to marvel at because it turns the speedway into something otherworldly. You can pan the entire view and see each stage blowing attendees away with some epic beats, costumed performers and other attendees running around as if they lived there…it’s just something else. If you didn’t enter in on the grandstands side or never walked up the steps a bit to check it out, I genuinely feel sorry for you. That view coming in each day reminded me that I was supposed to let go of who I was outside of the event and be whoever I wanted to be.
Friday was an interesting day, the shuttle wasn’t terrible getting to EDC itself and we arrived when it was dark so we saw the speedway in its full glow. Adventure Club started off my EDC this year and I was actually surprised at their set. I hadn’t seen them perform in ages and felt they did really well, even bringing Delaney Jane on stage for a bit which I absolutely loved. Eric Prydz played one of the best sets of the weekend, and I only felt I overstayed my welcome at the stage when Kaskade came on. I’ll talk about bad vibes later but it wasn’t about him, it was mostly about people who don’t understand how to say “excuse me” or “I’m Sorry”. As usual with Friday I use that as my day to get a feel for the layout of the festival, figure out where the stages are and such so I went on my way with that. The bassPOD was noticeable lower than the year before, from what I remember at least. I definitely enjoyed the theme of the Wasteland too, and while it was definitely one of my top stages to have some dancing room at all weekend. Datsik and Dada Life were cool too, but nothing really topped Kaskade’s Redux set at the Skybridge. I’m so happy I got to experience it once again, with people who actually were all chill and in a sick spot where we could all just relax and reflect on the day.
You can check out my full recap of the first day by clicking HERE!
I elected to drive on Saturday because I was somewhat afraid of being stuck on a bus and delaying me from entering the speedway. This was also because it was full of interviews with artists which you will all be able to read very soon, don’t worry. I spent my night jumping around between stages and it was definitely hot out. Being on site while the sun was still in the air was a completely different temperature experience on the speedway, good thing Insomniac Events continued to push out notifications all day and night reminding people to hydrate. I caught a few artists that I wasn’t expecting to see that day (MAKJ and Tommy Trash) and had some fun at both of those sets. Deorro, a personal favorite of mine, was an artist I almost missed due to a change from the book’s set times. Not one to be constantly checking the app, I got lucky and saw his logo at circuitGROUNDS in the distance. Julian Jordan was also pretty fun, and everyone lost their mind when he brought out Martin Garrix as a surprise guest. I don’t think anyone was quite expecting that to happen. The highlight of my night was, of course, Above & Beyond. Their set on Saturday is definitely in my top 5 of seeing them, and honestly ranked neck and neck with 2014 for me personally. I got to spend the set with some amazing people, in an area that wasn’t full of traffic…it was just perfect.
You can check out my full recap of the second day by clicking HERE!
Tired from being in Las Vegas for a week at this point, but still pushing forward. The group I was with elected to test out the UBER situation on the third day, and it was actually a fairly pleasant trip. Would definitely recommend using it if you have a decent group that is willing to split the cost, it probably isn’t worth it for just a solo person though. Sunday was earmarked for Dreamstate, and while I definitely intended on being at the circuitGROUNDS for a good portion of my night, I definitely didn’t end up there as much as I thought. Instead my night was filled giving some love to artists that really did deserve some affection. I spent a great amount of time at DJ Dan’s set, and I cannot give this man enough credit to making my Sunday one hell of a good time. RL Grime also threw down an epic set, and I don’t care what your thoughts on trap are, but it was one of the best performances of the weekend by far. Leaving Marshmello’s set after realizing it was basically the same as any other ones from him that I’ve heard was the right idea, as I headed back to catch the other half of GAIA’s set. I was told the first half wasn’t as good, so maybe I got lucky in my arrival, but it was really great when I was there. I personally didn’t feel that Markus Schulz or Gareth Emery really belonged on the Dreamstate stage, and would have rather had John O’Callaghan and Jordan Suckley play in their place, but I get that their version of trance needs some love too. While I wasn’t at Schulz’s set, I was in the crowd during Gareth’s set and honestly enjoyed being there. Sure it wasn’t psytrance or strictly trance in general, but it did bring a really positive vibe with it and doesn’t change the fact that Gareth is a great producer and DJ. Closing with Galantis while on the Wide Awake Art Car was something else, looking over the crowd as the sun was rising was definitely a sight to see. All in all it was a great way to close out the weekend, I’m glad that Aly & Fila’s set made its way online as well so I can still catch that too.
You can check out my full recap of the third day by clicking HERE!
I’m not sure how to put it in words other than “wow” because it’s hard to describe. Each stage had its own unique feel and vibe to it, and I definitely felt like I could have spent more time at all of them throughout the weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed the VIP section in for circuitGROUNDS, kineticFIELD, and neonGARDEN, each one brought something different to the table that made it special. I walked through the Carnival Square a few times, noticing that it seemed as if people were having fun in there, I never really spent much time inside or with the vendors much though. I don’t vape so that entire vape village area was left alone by me, but those who do vape had good things to say. The rides that were on the speedway this year ranged from ferris wheels (four of them, actually), to a log ride, and even bumper cars! I thought the variety that was out there may have been the best I’ve seen.
The amount of art that was brought out this year for the event was insane. Everywhere you looked there was a unique art car, fun installation, or decoration to keep your eyes stimulated.
It was great to see some old favorites return, while ushering in some new valued additions as well like the Kalliope Art Car and the Skybridge. Another thing that many people may have missed were the smaller stages, as the Smirnoff House played host to a seriously stacked lineup throughout the weekend, as did all of the art cars who each went to the beat of their own drum. The secret underground rave inside the kineticFIELD VIP area was fun and special, but I never really seemed to be there at the right time. I like the idea of having events inside of the event though, perhaps that is something they will continue to entertain in the future.
Each stage had its own unique feel to it, almost a shrine to the music that was being played or the feelings that were emoted by the artists performing. Let’s get right to the point though, I think the era of having just one main stage is over. If you’re going to point fingers and say there HAD to be one, I’d give you two — kineticFIELD and circuitGROUNDS shared the title. KineticFIELD aka kineticTEMPLE was seriously impressive to look at and was the main focus for the experience shows that came before and after each artist’s set. CircuitGROUNDS, with the 360 stage, was insane to both look at and experience during sets. When you were inside the stage area you felt engulfed in the set itself and having production elements going off around you brought you together.
NeonGARDEN retained its pyramid-like structure, with a giant disco ball and massive upgrades in the flow of the stage itself. I personally wish I had spent more time there. BassPOD and bassCON‘s Wasteland both had amazing sound quality and the themes were fantastic. Everyone may point out that bassPOD caught on fire at one point, no it was not during excision but yes, it was lit. Stage 7, aka the 7UP stage, changed from their usual squared setup to mimic the length of the kineticFIELD more, bringing fans closer to the experience. The Upside Down House was interesting, but I honestly cared more about the beats that were there than the look of the stage. Finally, cosmicMEADOW was one of my favorites from the weekend as well, almost resembling the Sydney Opera House in the way it was designed. Seeing the fireworks erupt as that stage produced some amazing visuals was something else.
The food options at EDC Las Vegas 2016 were full of variety but I honestly never felt like eating a full meal when it was so hot out. Shaved Ices were my go to on Sunday, I think I grabbed quite a few of those from inside the VIP at circuitGROUNDS. There were also free coconuts in the VIP area of kineticFIELD, definitely had my fill of those as well. Welcome to Las Vegas, where you can continue to drink throughout the night with no real limit to a cut-off time, with the downside of the bars being predominately cash only. Regarding the water situation this year, both FREE and purchasable water was available nearly everywhere, it was impossible to miss the free water stations and there were plenty of vendors who had water available for purchase. There was absolutely no excuse to not stay hydrated during this event, and Insomniac continually reminded you throughout the night to hydrate both around the festival and via the app on your phone.
Let’s talk about vibes for a brief second. When you bring 145,000 people into the speedway every single day, there is absolutely zero chance of every single person being a good person. In fact I will stand by that by saying not every raver is good and not everyone at EDC is there for the “right” reasons. When I first started attending events I was indoctrinated with the values of “PLUR” and while many may joke that its dead or call someone out for being “unplur”, that is never what it was for me. You push out the vibes you receive, so bring good vibes and good vibes will find you. This has become a tried and true method for me as events have blossomed in size, and I’ve found that as long as I keep my cool and be positive it makes a world of difference to my experience as a whole. I will say this though, I know that there were some people who weren’t good vibes that were at the event. I know that a performer was attacked during the event, and I also know that many people had things stolen. It is unfortunate that it’s like this but please don’t forget that these incidents were fairly small considering this is the largest dance music festival in North America. Personally, the only time I ever felt surrounded by bad vibes was actually during Kaskade’s set at the circuitGROUNDS, and it was mainly due to the fact that the crowd was beyond capacity for that stage so things got a bit hostile with people. Instead of staying there I decided to go wander around and check out the rest of the festival, and poof I was feeling better already.
It’s that simple people, if you feel bad vibes just go explore and continue to push out your own positive ones instead.
My Top 5 Sets
- DJ Dan
- Eric Prydz
- RL Grime
- Above & Beyond
- Kaskade Redux
You can grab these, and many other live sets by clicking HERE!
My fifth EDC Las Vegas experience has come to a close and I honestly felt that this was one of the best. Maybe it is something about even years with me, but my favorite experiences have been surrounding EDC Las Vegas 2012, 2014, and 2016. Who knows if that is even a thing, but it won’t change the fact that I will be returning home next year to enjoy myself once again. I already am looking forward to next year’s event, and cannot wait to see what is in store for the future of both Insomniac Events and the Electric Daisy Carnival.