In my two years of writing for EDMSauce (and nearing now ten years of journalistic work) I have never been a victim of writer's block…until now. From festival reviews, album reviews, artist interviews, and news related content, I have always been able to form a clear and concise opening for my pieces, until today. That is because a week ago, the most perfect, immaculate, pristine music festival I have ever partaken in took place— Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas. I have danced under the electric sky for five consecutive years and I cannot find the words to describe the incredible transformation this festival has gone through.
It's difficult to imagine that less than a year ago, Insomniac Events was plagued by not-so-great reviews of their flagship festival, EDC Las Vegas. For the eighth consecutive year, EDC took place in Las Vegas after several years at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and other Southern California event venues. The thriving festival had plenty of footprint to work with in Sin City, calling the 1,200 acre Las Vegas Motor Speedway home (of which they occupy 180 acres). However, an all-night party in the unrelenting Mojave Desert heat can (and will) take a toll on its attendees. Year after year, one of the top complaints from festival goers was that unbearable 100+ degree heat resulting in many hospitalizations and even deaths. The growing number of attendees meant more and more people requiring reliable transportation to the speedway, a 15-mile trek north of the Las Vegas Strip, where most attendees book their weekend stay. The increase in vehicular traffic led to the now infamous stories of last year's shuttle transportation disasters and the now meme-worthy photos of lines of cars waiting hours to exit the speedway at 7 a.m. every morning after the festival ends.
In response to the overwhelming complaints on social media, Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella promised big changes for their 2018 celebrations, some of which included third-party professional shuttle services, earlier opening ceremonies, an all-new camping experience, and the biggest change of all, a change of dates from mid-June to mid-May when temperatures are usually more bearable.
Headliners, this is the week! I want to give you all an update on EDC Las Vegas before tickets go on sale this Thursday. As many of you know, we’re handing over shuttle operations to a company who specializes in transportation to the largest festivals and sporting events in the world. They live and breathe transportation all year round, and are finalizing a plan to ensure our Headliners get to and from the festival as quickly and efficiently as possible. For our campers, we’re going to be offering a full turnkey experience. Each air-conditioned tent will come fully set up with a power strip and interior lighting, so all you have to do is bring your gear and make it home. Our center camp, the Mesa, is going to feature healthy food options, guest speakers, group activities, yoga, meditation classes, aerobics classes, and much more. And if you’ve got an RV, we’ve got a place for you to just roll up. Shuttle and camping passes will be available at a later date, and those who already purchased their EDC tickets will be offered first access to both options once they go on sale via a special early access link. And don't forget that all are welcome at our new pre-parties and opening ceremonies each day! Parking lots will open at 2pm and the gates to cosmicMEADOW will open at 3pm. The pre-party will start at 4pm, and then at 7pm we’ll have an official opening ceremony before the rest of the festival kicks off. There are so many new things happening at EDC Las Vegas next year, so stay tuned! I’ll be hosting a Reddit AMA tomorrow at 3pm PT to answer any questions you might have. Festival passes go on sale Thursday at noon PT. See you Under the Electric Sky!
This unprecedented move was a huge gamble for Rotella and the entire team at Insomniac. The announcement was made in late summer last year, only giving them about eight months to not only produce the biggest EDM festival in North America, but to also give guests an all-new camping experience. Not to mention working with new third-party shuttle services as well as coordinating the events of EDC Week, a week-long lineup of artists shows at top Vegas venues.
In a city known for big players and high stakes, Rotella took the biggest gamble of them all, promising an enhanced EDC experience for all its guests— and it paid off…BIG TIME. As I stated earlier, I have never been at a loss of words when it comes to an opening paragraph, but what Rotella and the Insomniac crew managed to pull off in eight month's time is unbelievable and in doing so created the most perfect EDC Las Vegas yet.
The 22nd edition of Electric Daisy Carnival saw a sold-out three-day attendance of over 400,000 people from around the world, 20,000 of them were campers at Camp EDC. The inaugural Camp EDC did see some traffic headaches the first day of campsite opening, with eager dwellers waiting for hours as their vehicles were thoroughly searched before entering the grounds. Once inside and settled in, campers had the distinguishable honor of being the first people ever to camp at EDC Las Vegas. The campsite was located immediately next to the speedway and allowed campers in-and-out privileges into the festival.
Campers were treated to an exclusive pre-party celebration hosted by Excision atop the Parliament Art Car, featuring Habstrakt and G Jones, with surprise sets by NGHTMRE back-to-back Slander and Wavedash. Other camp offerings included pool parties (with acts like Tommie Sunshine, Camelphat, Solardo, and Arty), yoga, totem making workshops, rave aerobics, stand-up comedy, and plenty of field games. While I personally did not reside at the campsite, the general consensus I gathered from tenants were positive, mainly praising the overabundance of activities throughout.
Another first, EDC hosted a daily opening ceremony at cosmicMEADOW, allowing guests to access that part of the speedway before the rest of the grounds opened. This was a huge draw to campers who had easy access to and from the festival, as slowly but surely the rest of the attendees trickled into the speedway. Friday saw the impressive performance of Chris Lake (one of his many sets throughout the weekend) playing back-to-back with Chris Lorenzo, Saturday brought the Night Bass with AC Slater and Sunday's opening ceremony played host to MK.
I began my EDC journey on Friday evening by roaming the grounds of the speedway, not only to familiarize myself with the layout, but also to check out all of the new stage designs and art installations. I stood atop of the bleachers in awe and excitement as I gazed out at what lay ahead of me. After five consecutive years of attending EDC Las Vegas, I still cannot believe that a place like this exists.
My cruise around the speedway led me to encounter some of the new art installations including the Pagoda Pyramid, the Hexatron (a personal favorite of mine with its forest of lights), Elektra (the tall colorful figure akin to Burning Man's “the man” statue), and Ghost Ride, a picturesque full-size Vietnam-era military plane that hovered above guests. I was pleased to see more chill-out spots than previous years, including a section where you can relax and view some of your favorite cartoons, like Rick & Morty.
The Carnival Square was updated this year to create a brand new area dubbed Downtown EDC. Plenty of Instagram-friendly photo opportunities surrounded this central meeting spot, which also included free arcade games, virtual reality experiences, Wi-Fi and charging stations, a laser graffiti wall and LED video walls displaying live sets from across the speedway. Immediately next to the square was one of my favorite walkways in all of EDC— Memory Lane. This path allows you to get from one side of the festival to the other while being completely surrounded by giant LED screens displaying videos of EDCs past.
Packed with immense energy and cheerful attitudes, this year's performers at EDC did not disappoint. From atomic ponies to brass monkeys and marching majorettes, the talented cast of artists helped enhance the EDC experience by entertaining guests as they paraded around the speedway.
The beloved art cars also traversed the venue throughout the weekend. Some of the eclectic vehicles included Walter, a 23-window Volkswagen bus, Big Red, Heathen (a fire-breathing big rig) and of course the Parliament, Kalliope, Boombox, The Wench and Wide Awake art cars which showcased some of the biggest DJs in a more intimate setting. Highlights include Kaskade's Strobelight Seduction sunrise set, Nitti Gritti, MK b2b Will Clarke, Drezo, Ekali b2b Dr. Fresch, Timmy Trumpet, Jauz's Off the Deep End set and Seven Lions b2b Dimibo with a stellar trance set. The art cars have become a staple at EDC for hosting up-and-coming talent as well as producing some of the most memorable sets of the weekend.
Corona's Electric Beach stage was the perfect seaside getaway in the middle of EDC. Hosted by the popular beer label, the beach vibes were riding with sets by Dateless, Mija, Yookie, Wongo b2b Jace Mek, and Brownies & Lemonade surprise guests: Moksi, Robotaki, LOUDPVCK, Anna Lunoe and GTA.
Each year, EDC debuts a brand new design for its main stage known as kineticFIELD. Having set the tone for grand, beautiful pieces in the past, the debut of this massive stage has become a must-see for every attendee. For 2018, not only did Insomniac introduce yet another intricate art piece for its main stage, but it also showcased other stage architectures which helped in creating the feeling of a refreshed, yet familiar layout. Aside from kineticFIELD, the redesigned stages included bassPOD, circuitGROUNDS, neonGarden, wasteLAND, quantumVALLEY (which premiered last year under a tent), and stereoBLOOM (what was previously known as the upside down house). cosmicMEADOW was the only stage that kept the same identity as previous years, but that did not stop it from bringing in the crowds.
The quintessential stage, the heart of EDC, kineticFIELD was transformed this year into the universe of kineticLOVE. One of the four pillars of PLUR (the rave culture principles known as Peace, Love, Unity, Respect), love was the overall theme to this year's event and kineticFIELD was the heartbeat of it all. The 405-foot wide by 98-foot tall structure comprised of two towering majestic figures that showed the true meaning of kineticLove as they guarded the heart of the festival. The adjoining VIP area gave its patrons commanding views of the stage ahead and (for the first time) allowed them to take a dip in the all-new kineticPOOL.
Throughout the weekend, kineticFIELD was home to the biggest names in EDM including Zedd, Vini Vici, NGHTMRE, Don Diablo, Dash Berlin, Seven Lions, Alan Walker, Diplo, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Slushii, Marshmello among others. Highlights include Tiesto's Avicii tribute, Kaskade's jam-packed set, Afrojack (who stated that this was his best set EVER), and the weekend closing set by Chris Lake back-to-back with Fisher.
The “second main stage”, circuitGROUNDS was reprogrammed and given an upgrade this year. While it maintained its signature 360-degree immersive layout, the LED screens changed to a circular future tech design that enveloped you in a land of electric vibes.
circuitGROUNDS brought three-days of artists from all genres of the electronic spectrum. Artists such as R3HAB, Borgeous, KSHMR, Hardwell, Armin van Buuren, Mija, Black Gummy, and Martin Garrix. Standout performances include Excision's laser-filled bass show, Eric Prydz, Claude vonStroke, Virtual Self (Porter Robinson's futuristic alias), NGHTMRE & Slander's Gud Vibrations set, Rezz and Yellow Claw, who somehow managed to get the crowd to boo after bringing out Danielle Bregoli (better known as the “Cash Me Outside” girl from the now-viral Dr. Phil episode).
The ultimate haven for trance lovers, quantumVALLEY unlocked its gates as an open-air stage for the first time. Having debuted last year under a tent, this year's footprint expanded into the electric sky and brought with it an insane megastructure that created a warehouse vibe with its cube-shaped steel pylons. Situated right outside kineticFIELD, quantumVALLEY had a coveted spot at the speedway, allowing guests who were traveling by to stop and take in the ethereal beats and melodies of trance music.
Hosted by Dreamstate, quantumVALLEY showcased the very best in all subgenres of trance (progressive, psytrance, uplifting and tech trance) including Roger Shah, ATB, Alpha 9, Avalon, Blastoyz, Markus Schulz, Ferry Corsten, Paul van Dyk and Cosmic Gate. Saturday saw the takeover of popular label Anjunabeats and its artists- Spencer Brown, Oliver Smith, Ilan Bluestone, Jason Ross, Andrew Bayer, Grum, Gabriel & Dresden and a spectacular back-to-back set by Genix and Sunny Lax.
Other notable performances include Astrix, Cold Blue, Jordan Suckley's 3FECT, and the highly anticipated classics set by Dash Berlin. The Friday throwback set saw quantumVALLEY overflowing as fans gathered to hear the classic 90s and 2000s sounds of trance by Dash Berlin.
Having been one of the most popular stage designs of previous years, bassPOD's iconic robotic fire-breathing structures disappeared this year in favor of a new Tron-like, neo-futuristic structure that kept similar elements of the past yet pushed you into the future. Gone are the dark octagonal shapes and in its place are jagged, geodesic ones with chromes and blues.
Still a hot spot for bass lovers, bassPOD (which was hosted by Bassrush) conceived the sounds of trap, dubstep, and drum & bass for all its legions of headbangers to revel in. Acts such as Black Tiger Sex Machine, Zomboy, GTA, Space Jesus, Eptic, Herobust and Spag Heddy played over the weekend. Highlights include Excision's Detox set (showcasing a wide range of sounds), Pendulum, Flux Pavilion b2b Doctor P, Dubloadz b2b Monxx and 12th Planet b2b Kill the Noise.
An impressive Egyptian landscape is the setting for this hardstyle sanctuary. The stage itself was enclosed this year as to not have the noise bleed out into other areas. Graffiti-ravaged box trailers (with drawings of some famous cartoon characters) surround the land known for high energy beats and its revelers.
Hosted by Basscon, DJ Isaac, Headhunterz, Darren Styles, TNT, Da Tweekaz, Angerfist and Coone were some of the names you could find in the ancient Egyptian ruins. Other notable sets include Digital Punk, Anime b2b Mad Dog, Junkie Kid, Notorious Two and Code Black.
Gone is the iconic pyramid-like structure that dominated the EDC skyline in years past- in its place, a tribute to the archetypal building. Now enclosed on all sides, the interior of the neonGARDEN resembled a pyramid with jagged pylons stretching to the now-open sky. Described as a nightclub setting, the popular stage lost its giant disco ball but kept the underground beats of house and techno.
The enclosing of the area did create some pain points as it meant very few entrances and exits and eventually required the closing of the garden during some of the most popular sets due to overcrowding.
Three days of house and techno made this a very popular destination at EDC this year with acts such as Jamie Jones, Hot Since 82, Loco Dice, Paul Woolford, Tiga, The Black Madonna and Charlotte de Witte.
Hosted by factory93, Some of my favorite sets of the entire weekend took place at the neonGARDEN including Cirez D (Eric Prydz), Adriatique, Gorgon City, Solardo b2b Camelphat, Green Velvet and the impressive Green Velvet b2b Gorgon City b2b Detlef day two sunrise set.
A more intimate stage, stereoBLOOM was the highlight of my weekend. The club-like atmosphere that the framework created was hosted by Insomniac Records and presented a wide-range of emerging talent as well as established artists that kept the crowds dancing all weekend.
Bassrush records took over on Sunday with acts like Caspa, JSTJR, Yookie, Zeke Beats and Rell the Soundbender b2b Rawtek. Prominent sets include Dombresky, Fisher, Jack Beats, Sinden b2b Lo'99, MK, Chris Lorenzo, Will Clarke and Wongo. These artists pulled in wanderers and kept them dancing and grooving along to their beats.
I like to think of cosmicMEADOW as the opening and closing acts of EDC Las Vegas. It is the first stage you encounter as you descend from the grandstand and really sets the tone for other stages with its impressive arrangement and size. As you leave each night, the sounds coming from cosmicMEADOW surround you, eventually fading away as you climb up the stairs and head back home. No new stage designs were unveiled for 2018, but that didn't stop cosmicMEADOW from being one of the biggest magnets at EDC.
Hosted by HARD, cosmicMEADOW is known for its wide arrange of artists (including live acts and rappers) as well as being a lush green relaxing spot for attendees to unwind. As stated earlier, cosmicMEADOW hosted its first ever daily EDC opening ceremony, granting earlier access to the celebrations for everyone.
Over the course of the weekend, the stage welcomed Illenium, Borgore, Snails, San Holo, Boys Noize, Getter, Loudpvck, Zeds Dead, Habstrakt and Mike Will Made-It. Standout performers include Chris Lake b2b Chris Lorenzo (Friday's opening ceremony), The Binches (Dot Com, Ookay, Yultron and Kayzo), DJ Mustard (who brought out Nick Jonas and YG), Ookay (whose live set included a performance by Kenny G on the saxophone) and Shiba San.
cosmicMEADOW was also home to Tchami and Malaa's No Redemption set , one of the standout performances of the weekend. The two have been touring this show to sold-out audiences across the country and it became the must-see act at this year's EDC. I have personally never seen cosmicMEADOW that crowded before; it was such a draw that it managed to pull guests from Eric Prydz's set at circuitGROUNDS.
For three nights out of the year, the desert landscape of Las Vegas transforms itself into the ultimate adult playground. A perfectly curated utopia where societal labels are shed, where the unique individual inside of you that yearns to come out can shine free. A music lover's paradise where the melodic beats intertwine with the most breathtaking stages and state-of-the-art visuals.
A huge congratulations and pat on the back for Pasquale Rotella and his team for being able to pull off EDC Las Vegas 2018 only eight months after they announced the massive overhaul of the festival. An overhaul that included not only multiple new stage designs, but a change of date to a cooler time of the year, a brand new nightly opening ceremony experience, new third-party shuttle companies and the biggest addition of them all— Camp EDC, a mini-city comprised of tents and RVs that immersed its tenants in the magic of EDC 24/7.
EDC Las Vegas is more than a music festival, it is an experience. Very few places on this Earth allow you to disconnect from society and transport you into another realm of reality. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the sensations and the emotions that surround you at EDC are unique and the team at Insomniac outdoes itself every year to bring that magic under the electric sky.