It's been almost a week since the gates closed at Insomniac's highlight festival: EDC Las Vegas. 2014's version of the event – 4th in Las Vegas – featured some of dance music industry's biggest names, loudest fans, and most impressive production. There are a lot of things that go into making a festival successful, and there's even more that festivals try to accomplish to make the event something extraordinary. To put it simply, EDC Las Vegas 2014 was a win. Not only did they book the biggest artists and build the largest stages – but they created a unique, memorable experience that forced each individual to try something different every night.
From the perspective of someone who has been to festivals from Defqon Australia to Ultra Miami, and almost everywhere in between, EDC Las Vegas hit every box in the checklist of epicness. I got to ask the The Disco Fries after their set on Friday night; “what makes EDC Las Vegas different from other festivals?” Their answer was obvious: “Pasquale and Insomniac have been doing it for so long. From underground parties that our buddy Tommy Sunshine was playing at. These guys know what we [DJs] want and what fans want on a bigger scale.”
Insomniac continues to captivate exactly what the fan is looking for in a festival experience – sometimes delivering amenities that fans didn't know they wanted until they were there. In addition to meeting the fan's expectations, Insomniac raises the standard for DJ accommodation; making sure that their performers are met with everything that they want during their time at EDC.
People escape to an oasis like EDC for a lot of reasons. Some come for the crowd intensity, some for the party favors, and some for the sex appeal. Ultimately, the 140,000 attendees at EDC Las Vegas 2014 are bonded together by one thing: The love of house music. Some of them are veteran festival-goers, and others are first-timers, but under the electric sky, they all come together to celebrate life, love, art, and individuality through music.
On Sunday night, Above & Beyond took over the Kinetic Cathedral: EDC's 2014 main stage. Tony & Paavo captivated the crowd with classics such as “A Thing Called Love” as well as their latest single “Sticky Fingers”. Known for their emotionally-driven set, the duo welcomed EDC festival-goer, Emilio, on stage to play their last song: Sun & Moon. He pushed the button.
Tiesto's set on Saturday night was unforgettable. Less than a week after his Vegas-inspired album launch, “A Town Called Paradise”, Tiesto showed the world why Las Vegas is the town that he calls paradise. Accompanied by live vocalist Matthew Koma, Tiesto played almost his entire new album including; “Rocky”, “Take Me”, “Written in Reverse”, “Footprints”, “Red Lights”, “Set Yourself Free”, “Light Years Away”, “Blow Your Mind”, and fan-favorite “Wasted”. Surprising, Tiesto didn't play the CD's title track: “A Town Called Paradise”. The set was stunning. I wish he played for more than 90 minutes!
Armin van Buuren played right out of the A State of Trance playbook on Friday night. Towards the end of his set he launched loyal Armada fans into a nostalgic heaven when he played Cosmic Gate classic “Exploration of Space”. Armin can leave any crowd mesmerized. Despite being a veteran festival headliner, he doesn't seem to be slowing down at all. Expect him and the rest of his ASOT family to continue rocking massive stadiums and festivals for years to come.
Hardwell brought his standard, grade-A level intensity to the main stage on Friday night at EDC. There wasn't much space left on the Kinetic Field once he took the stage at 1:00. He hit every fan favorite including “Apollo”, “Spaceman”, and “Never Say Goodbye”. He also played unreleased collaborations with W&W, and Martin Garrix.
Sebastian Ingrosso & Axwell continued their world tour at EDC's main stage on Sunday night. Playing after Above & Beyond isn't easy and don't assume that Axwell /\ Ingrosso sound the same as Swedish House Mafia. These guys throw an intense 2014 twist on some classic fan favorites. At the same time, sing-alongs like “Don't You Worry Child” and “Save The World” still gave the crowd a piece of festivals past.
Infected Mushroom closed out the second day of EDC at the BassPOD. Amit and Erez had no difficulty playing until the sun was over the horizon. The duo that used to tie together long trancey build-ups and tripped out bass drops is not breaking fences and generating whiplash to headbangers. Infusing sharp wubs and dubstep to their historic hippy-inspired melodies, Infected Mushroom delivered a unique, modern sound that was one of the most energetic sets of the festival.
Dash Berlin made a surprise appearance on the BassCON stage, Saturday night. DJ Isaac was playing just before midnight when the superstar trance DJ hopped up on the turn tables to greet the crowd. Isaac has a lot of experience playing at Q-Dance inspired areas of EDC festivals, but that seemed like a special moment for him, too. The crowd went crazy as he spun his hardstyle remix of “Till The Sky Falls Down”; the song that would (in its original form) eventually close out the festival on early Monday morning. Isaac had one of the largest crowds at the BassCON stage.
As if it wasn't awesome enough to see Dyro & Dannic play a back-to-back set; Hardwell decided to join his proteges at the Circuit Grounds on Friday night. The three Dutchmen rocked the mega structure. The incredible sound combined with the echo of the crowd shook the entire tent.
“I hope people get inspired to enjoy life a little bit more, connect with their inner self, and make the world a better place. Happiness is the most important thing in the world!” -Pasquale Rotella, Insomniac CEO. At EDC we break the monotony of everyday life, and be a part of something special.
This is where we all come together; the preps, goths, chess nerds, band geeks, book worms, math experts, punks, skaters, drama people, choir people, “special” people, non-conformists, gangster-type people, tomboys, rebels, jocks, grade repeaters, cheerleaders, prom queens, gamers, and art school dropouts. We are all here; under the electric sky.
Nightclubs have strict dress codes, making it difficult to be comfortable and expressive. The festival scene naturally promotes individuality. During EDC week, 140,000 people all found their own way to be themselves, and share themselves with the world. Festivals tend to bring out the good, the bad, the fashionable, and the crazy in attendees. EDC Las Vegas 2014 definitely never fell short of anyone's expectations. The dry, desert heat didn't allow festival-goers to hide behind layers of clothes; forcing some to get creative. The easiest way to turn heads at EDC was with some tactfully placed pasties and body paint.
Beyond toplessness, we saw fluffies being worn on places other than feet, and it's always easy to find the groups who cover themselves in LEDs. The kandi kids aren't going anywhere, and flag culture might be one of the fastest growing festival fads. There are always people dressed up like African wildlife, and some people dressed in as little as possible. It would have been difficult to count the wedgies as most women left their rear-ends out to be admired. Some people were obviously looking to stay comfortable and cool, but proved a little face paint and some colorful flower accessories can make any outfit ‘EDC-ready'. Through three full evenings, and more than 30 hours of exploration, we never lost interest in the outfits, costumes, and bare skin.
Without the people, there would be no music, no production, and no festival. It's the sense of community and togetherness that drives us all to keep coming back, year after year. EDC Las Vegas isn't only a place for musicians to showcase their music, but it's a place for the world to showcase who they are to one another, and to themselves.
EDC Las Vegas 2014 inevitably set the standard for festival production in the United States. The stage design, festival entertainment, amusement features, rides, art displays, and guest accommodations all exceeded expectation. Most importantly, health & medical staff was actively engaged and involved with the crowd.
Kinetic Field. Main event: Hardwell, Armin van Buuren, Kaskade, Tiesto, Alesso, Fedde Le Grand, Above & Beyond, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, New World Punx, Dash Berlin
EDC's Kinetic Field is Insomniac's staple main stage venue. 2014's “Kinetic Cathedral” was the largest stage ever constructed in North America. The stage was 440 feet long, 80 feet tall, featured 28 LED displays, 1,000 light fixtures, 30 lasers, and required 2.5 million watts of power to function. Needless to say, it served it’s purpose. Entertaining a constant flow of 70,000+ people for 32 hours is not an easy accomplishment.
Strategically placed columns featured layers of speakers and lighting devices. Standing towards the back of the arena, the lights seemed three-dimensional. Each column on the stage served as a flamethrower that radiated heat across the entire crowd. The massive, hand-painted owls on each side had LED eyes, and the big-screens were scattered around the area giving the Kinetic Field an arena-feel.
BassCON. Main event: Brennan Heart, Isaac, Headhunterz, Angerfist, Paul Oakenfold
The massive inflatable cyclops that towered over the hardstyle stage had a striking resemblance to a twisted, possessed, version of Disney's Mike Wazowski (Monster's Inc.) In typical Q-Dance fashion, the DJ booth was located high over the crowd inside the monster's mouth. There were more than a dozen massive features scattered around the stage that lit up in different patterns; some projected light across the crowd, and other spat fire. Being so far away, it was sometimes difficult to see the DJ, but hardstyle is all about the dancing, headbanging, and fist pumping. Several DJs made surprise appearances on the BassCON stage including Dash Berlin, Paul Oakenfold, and Carnage. For an open area, the sound was tremendous. Some festival-goers called it the loudest stage at EDC.
BassPOD. Main event: Datsik, Destroid, Kill The Noise, Excision, Krewella, Sub Focus
The BassPOD (or ‘Bass Pyramid') was tucked away from the rest of the festival. Fans had to travel through a maze of carnival rides to reach this impressive monument. With fire-spraying pillars lining the crowd and a layered pyramid design fans were able to feel the intensity of the stage from the entire area. Saturday night featured a special, surprise “DnB-only” set by main-stage DJs Krewella. By the end of the evening, the bass vibrations and energy of the crowd actually began to break the fence at the front of the stage. It almost felt like a world away from EDC when standing close to the BassPOD.
Circuit Grounds. Main event: Afrojack, Steve Aoki, Avicii, Eric Prydz, Calvin Harris, PvD
We wondered into the Circuit Grounds early Friday night. The first thing we noticed; it was loud, really, really loud. The long, tent-like structure featured acoustics that amplified the massive speakers around the entire arena. Did I mention that the LED screens attached to the ceiling were lowered down directly on top of the crowd? The brilliant engineering behind this stage gave fans a festival experience of massive sound, technology, and theatrics. I'm always worried that structures, like the Circuit Grounds, will get too crowded. Despite being shoulder-to-shoulder at times, it was easy to navigate the area. There were pockets of people moving around and dancing in each corner. There was never a time we felt claustrophobic or stuck in a part of the tent. The crowd did a great job of keeping each other cool and safe.
Cosmic Meadow. Main event: Diplo, Flosstradamus, Knife Party, Bassnectar, Dillon Francis
This stage was bigger than most main stages. It was also the only stage that had a grass field for fans. Not only was the grassy area soft to dance on, but it provided a cool surface for people who needed a break from the desert heat. There was stadium seating in the back of the crowd that gave us a great view of the stage and a place to rest our legs. The sound from the Cosmic Meadow traveled through dozens of the art exhibitions around the lawn. Several bass-heavy performances headlined this stage, including Diplo, Flosstradamus, Knife Party, Bassnectar, and Dillon Francis. The stage was exactly what we look for in a festival area, but didn't have much of an EDC feel to it. It's going to be exciting to see how this stage grows to rival the Kinetic Field in it's size and theatrics.
Neon Garden. Main event: Dubfire, Carl Cox, Loco Dice, Green Velvet, Maya Jane Coles
The Neon Garden was a slightly smaller version of the Circuit Grounds. We really liked the strobe lights at this stage. During certain songs they would flash simultaneously, illuminating the entire arena; the crowd went wild. The sound quality was way above expectations. When asked which set he was most looking forward to at EDC in 2014, Insomniac CEO, Pasquale Rotella, mentioned Carl Cox at the Neon Garden as his favorite.
Stage 7. Main event: Disco Fries, Loudpvck, gLAdiator, Tommie Sunshine, Party Favor
Named for Electric Daisy Carnival sponsor “7Up”, Stage 7 gave a unique experience to festival goers looking to escape the massive size of EDC. “Stage 7” had the feeling of an intimate nightclub dropped in the middle of America's biggest dance music festival. The stage was built in to the wall and guests could almost touch the DJs. VIP attendees had a special viewing platform that allowed them to look down on the DJ booth; a view usually reserved for helicopters and cameramen. The dance floor was small but had no problem accommodating some of the weekend's biggest performances, including Tommie Sunshine & The Disco Fries on Friday night.
At every Electric Daisy Carnival event, the Insomniac team hand-picks a group of up-and-coming DJs to play at their “Discovery Project” area. This year's stage had so much talent on it, it's difficult to pin-point a favorite. Pasquale Rotella mentioned Zima and sirensCeol as his two most anticipated discovery performances this year. The stage was hidden inside the racetrack and surrounded by vendors and other environmental displays. We really liked discovering the discovery project at EDC Las Vegas 2014.
As the sun came up over the horizon on Monday morning the crowd stood and waited for the festival's last artist; Dash Berlin. Listening to Insomniac's final message makes the memory that much more unforgettable:
“Las Vegas. Insomniac. Welcome to the magical hour of EDC 2014. Together, underneath the electric sky. We are celebrating the moment. We are the children of generation NOW. We are connected. We are all EQUAL. We are free. We are LAS VEGAS. We are Dashers. We are all HEADLINERS. Are you ready EDC? Let's welcome our final artist. This is it. This is the moment we celebrate the ending. An ending that will be remembered forever. We are EDC…”
Now that the music is over, the crowd is gone, the stages have been dismantled, and the lights packed away, what's left? The world keeps turning and life goes on. EDC Las Vegas has become a memory. A memory that will be thought of nostalgically by 140,000 headliners forever. A special bond is formed with the friends who joined us in making Las Vegas unforgettable. The electric sky comes with us in our daily lives; passed from one person to another, hidden in each and every new song we fall in love with between now and next June – we will never forget EDC 2014.