Insomniac Events’ 2016 massive has come and gone. Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas 2016 took place over 3 days, after months and months of build up, and passed us by in what feels like now as swiftly as Christmas. It’s a little scary to think about to be honest. As I sit in the airport waiting for the plane home, wristband-clad wearied bodies walk to their respective gates with a confusingly beautiful display of both depressing exhaustion and inspiring glow. The people I had seen as one, on the searing tarmac of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway displaying their similar bright colors and survival rave gear, now walk apart, dressed in their respective civilian attire bearing little to no evident commonalities. From here we’ll all leave each other for another year, living separate lives and creating separate memories, but with one detail in common: the anticipation of reuniting with other headliners under the electric sky. After this year especially, we’ll all be waiting eagerly for the next.
EDCLV 2016 put on a display unlike any before it, and unique to every competitor ahead of it. In years past this statement would typically be followed by a gushing of praise for an increasingly massive mainstage or further fortified lineup. For years the race for the biggest mainstage paralleled that of the USA and the USSR’s arms race…in both conceptual stupidity and an inevitable demise. Last year saw a drastic decrease in size for Kinetic Field, and this year the grandeur of elder owl was watered down yet again; Diplo was obviously not pleased with its Disney-esque display, and as expected some attendees bemoaned its insufficient girth compared to years past – [looking for a penis joke here]. This redesign accomplishes so much more than just a providing the grounds with a facelift.
Decreasing the presence of the mainstage, redesigning the Circuit Grounds to a new mammoth open air venue, and cleverly (if a bit frustratingly) slotting artists against each other made for a seemingly less crowded event. Crowd control and movement was noticeably better than years, not only more relaxing but safer. The fact that I, among many others, could go near the front of Prydz and Kaskade at Circuit Grounds and have a circle of space around me was mind boggling, and the ability to quickly leave a stage to find the bathroom or one of the 160 access points for free filtered water gave many the energy and ease of mind to party through sunrise with ease.
In fact, the general amenity improvements this year alone made the 2016 edition one to remember. Water stations were extremely obvious this year, the general stores and merchandise tents were useful in a pinch (thank god for their ear-plugs), Information Points were visible across the grounds, exits readily available, and further improved VIP offerings (arcade games, over sized board games, private cool bathrooms, ball-pit!) gave way for an immersive relaxed experience for all.
Everyone. Shuttle representatives, entrance security, gatekeepers, water salesmen, ground control reps, medical personnel, staff pros, and local police alike kept that atmosphere alive. “STAY HYDRATED!!” “DRINK WATER!!” “STAY SAFE!!” were all common cheers one would hear walking to and within the grounds. For those three days, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway became a bubble away from the world, free from judgement, wholly accepting everyone for who they are. A bubble that brought old friends and strangers back together for but a few moments of bliss.
For some, those moments of bliss came as they raved under the electric sky above Kinetic Field for lights and sets of 15 minute fireworks, while artists like Anna Lunoe made history on mainstage. Others raged to massive acts like Zedd, Joyryde, or Shiba San at the Cosmic Meadow with its grassy dance floor and fiery stage. Some danced the night away under the 9-ft Disco ball of the Neon Garden as Lane 8, Richie Hawtin, Chris Liebing and other deep/tech/minimal DJs spun into each other’s sets. Trance fans went to heaven at Dreamstate in the Circuit Grounds, bassheads were lit AF at the Pod, and Wasteland survivors stomped to the heaviest hardstyle in the world. EDCLV 20 brought something for everyone.
Yes, there were hiccups here and there, like the BassPod‘s fire or Garrix’s performance slip up (those moments of silence would make any pro sweat), and various audio cuts and failures. Yes the were impressive technical accomplishments like the 466 ft. wide and 95 ft. tall Tree of Imagination with mainstage’s 1,400 light fixtures, 26 lasers, 33 flame units, and more than 800 LED panels that dazzled 70,000 smiling faces. And yes of course, performances were bananas. Every artist brought their A-game, with IDs, unveils, surprise guests, and surprise revea-…trolls. But the chances are you’ve heard all that because like us, you follow these artists with stalker-like frequency; Deadmau5 kinda has a point in this regard as EDC, like other massives, has a fairly similar stacked line-up every year.
The beauty of EDC, and the significance of what this 20th anniversary represents, rests not in the numbers and the performance highlights, but in the people that were there. I can remember my first EDC 3 years ago, walking up the steps of the Gate A entrance and seeing the carnival lights…the stages…the sounds…everything. It was a bite-the-back-of-your-hand-beautiful kinda moment. Drop to your knees and weep moment. Year 2 was the same. And Year 3, as I entered the grounds via the main entrance with two of my closest friends, was yet again a pinch-me-I’m-dreaming moment. Because across each of those years, the one similarity remains: the family you develop when you’re there.
There are people that have been doing this for every year of EDC’s 20 year life. There are people that are returning from their 1st go at it, and there are people who are there for the first time all coming together for a brief moment as one. One small moment that’s stuck with me since Sunday, came during a Giraffage set when a stranger came up to me cheering; we chatted about the set and who we were with, and his group was comprised of somebody doing their last EDC ever, showing someone around for their first time. They didn’t have to say hi. They didn’t have to share a story or a moment, but they did. And I get to walk away inspired to hopefully show somebody the magic of EDC for the first time as I pass the torch (because God knows this show isn’t a picnic…).
Pasquale has been a part of the family for even longer, and he’s helped bring that community from underground obscurity to accessible publicity through years and years of toil. Insomniac has grown to be what we would argue as the premiere dance event company. The mack-daddy of the dance world. Not because their lineups are always staggering or their stages always cutting-edge. Everyone’s doing that nowadays – no festival can survive without the minimum of dope stages and big acts, or safety and relaxation amenities. They win your hearts and our’s year-after-year because they provide us a home. Misfits and allstars alike.
Festivals boast massive headliner lineups to bring you there once. Insomniac and EDC boast you, me, and everyone as headliners to keep coming back for years to come. It’s why we deal with over 100 degree heat for 10 hours of hard raging. It’s why we sit for hours on the bus or the car to go only few miles to see some DJs drop the biggest beats of the year. It’s why two generations can press the button for Above & Beyond. It’s why people share their love with the public and get married on site! It’s why a lot of us will never let go of what music, and especially dance music, represents in our lives. This funky groovy glue that keeps us all together. For that, we thank you Insomniac. Congratulations on 20 years of excellence, and here’s to many many more.
Thumbnail Photo: aLIVE Coverage
Water Station: Scott Hutchinson
Aerial Overview: aLIVE Coverage
Group Photo (Bottom): Freedom Film LLC