You could always find a fair share of strange and gaudy characters roaming the streets of Downtown Los Angeles after hours, but this year’s Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) brought the city’s best and weirdest out en masse this past weekend. The crowd was near impossible to describe, as 90,000 colorful people danced within the L.A. Coliseum’s grounds during the fest’s peak on Saturday.
The Electric Daisy Carnival is the perfect name for the two-day festival, which packed 22 hours of flowery neon lights, blasting bass, and carnival rides into the late nights and early mornings. It’s a music fest that has one of the most unique feels of any event that comes to the big city, boasting so many lights and tights that it felt like a mutant mix between Christmas and Halloween. The majority of attendees came to party wearing the most eccentric costumes and brightest smiles, leaving only the most stubborn haters of electro-dance music to possibly feel unhappy or unwelcome in the warm glow of the massive venue. This electronic paradise featured some of the most established names in the game (Benny Benassi, Paul Oakenfold), as well as the new generation of electro’s most original artists (Simian Mobile Disco, Diplo). On top of their own tunes, many of the artists that performed deemed it proper to commemorate the king of pop by playing some of the late Michael Jackson‘s finest hits. With a lineup that kept feet moving throughout the night, EDC proved it’s earned a slot among the nation’s top dance music festivals.
Dusk fell on a literally ecstatic crowd on Friday, and the blissful haze was apparently not limited to affecting the audience, as Eddie Halliwell gave a warm welcome to what he thought was a Las Vegas audience. Someone must have told him he was not in Sin City, because he sheepishly corrected himself shortly thereafter and the crowd rolled with laughter. Thievery Corporation followed with one of their always-fantastic sets, filled with some of the most throbbing bass a stadium can handle. The night also included the heavy electro tunes of Fake Blood, who had the crowd in a dancing frenzy with songs like “Mars,” turning first time listeners into instant fans. The evening’s festivities continued to bring some of the hardest beats this side of the Mississippi, with the stylings of hip-hop laden Pretty Lights and ATB. The latter announced to the crowd that he came bearing fire just before huge columns of flame spat from the stage and into the night sky, kicking off the most spectacular fireworks show of the festival.
As midnight approached, so did Shiny Toy Guns and their own brand of electro-rock sounds. Although the band has had trouble holding onto female vocalists in the past, new singer Sisely Treasure had no trouble rocking the crowd with her melodic voice and disco ball-esque tights. Not surprisingly, their singles “Le Disko” and “Major Tom” were the hands-down highlights of the set. Boys Noize (a.k.a. Alexander Ridha) finished up the night with an interesting mix of songs that left some fans very satisfied, but many very annoyed, as Ridha chose to save his two biggest hits, “Lava Lava” and “My Moon My Man,” for the very end of his show, playing lesser-known songs in the meantime which were marred with earsplitting build-ups that resembled a static TV on full volume.
In between performances there was no shortage of entertainment at this electronic circus for the senses. They don’t call EDC a carnival for nothing, and the rides and clowns that were scattered throughout the grounds would put the work of even the most respectable carnies to shame. There was art to be found all around the Coliseum, whether it was enormous sculptures of faceless humans made of strange fibrous material, or women walking around in puffy Cinderella dresses that had shelves for you to set your drink on. In one area there was an incredible three dimensional cube composed of strings of neon lights that flashed in dazzling patterns, reminiscent of the cube installation featured at Coachella this year. Concertgoers in the right state of mind found themselves lying under the cube for hours, listening to the nearby stage, and staring into the neon abyss. The rides also provided hours of fun for attendees, whether it was the sloppy fun of ramming a bumper car into one of your friends, or the free-flying feel of the huge rotating swing set that provided riders with a bird’s eye view of the stages. Some rides definitely proved mellower than others, with some throwing people upside-down and twisting them around at high speeds. Luckily, people seemed to use their best judgment before boarding, as only those who could confidently hold onto their last meal were seen hopping on for a ride.
Everyone attending the festival knew that Saturday would be the bigger of the two evenings, but no one could have possibly predicted the virtual human explosion of 90,000 neon knights and disco pixies that descended on the Coliseum come round two. Attendees from the first night needed a bit of recuperation to say the least, but when the sun went down the crowd began to grow exponentially. DJ AM had the pleasure of a twilight set and much cooler temperatures than earlier in the day. Although he was not accompanied by his partner in crime, Travis Barker, he still managed to get the crowd moving by his lonesome with tracks that would be talked about for the rest of the night. He blasted an eclectic mix of music that ranged from Metallica‘s “Enter Sandman” to a remix of The White Stripes‘s “Seven Nation Army.”
Next on the menu, which was arguably be the main course for anyone that liked Italian beats was Benny Benassi. The crowd surged to a capacity that no one had expected, forcing Benassi to hold off on his set for almost an hour before EDC staff could properly direct the incredible flow of people into the Coliseum’s gates. Though this seemed like an irritating delay at the time, his set easily made up for the wait with dance remixes of The Red Hot Chili Peppers and a re-vamped version of “Satisfaction.” The definite highlight for those that didn’t want to battle the army of Paul van Dyk fans was the show put on by Simian Mobile Disco. The duo played a live set with a staggering amount of equipment that required them to run a full 360 degrees around their DJ booth to create some of the most amazing music of the night. The set included mixes of their some their most beloved tracks, including “Hustler” and “It’s the Beat.” As their set went on, the danced-out crowd was happy with SMD’s mercifully slow “I Believe,” which gave everyone a chance to breathe while still enjoying one of the best moments of the festival. As it came to a close, the techno zombies wandered into the night, leaving a trail of glitter in their wake.