Electric Daisy Carnival, Pasquale Rotella and Insomniac brand's brainchild also known as EDC, celebrated its landmark 20th anniversary with a sold-out crowd of over 400,000 electronic dance music culture fans over the weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Here are ten top festival moments from beneath the electric sky that prove Insomniac is still as "Wide Awake" as their tagline suggests.
01. Surprise Sets from Kaskade and JAUZ
As the sun set on the first night, fans were treated to a surprise Redux set from Kaskade on the wooden SkyBridge art installation. JAUZ, who played the KineticTemple stage during Night One, performed an intimate surprise set the second night at Smirnoff House as a tiny, but absolutely turnt, crowd all but shook the house from its foundation.
02. Guest Appearances by Skrillex, John Legend and Moby
Skrillex took over the mic during the ever-enigmatic Marshmello's set at the Cosmic Meadow stage on Sunday night; the OWSLA lead also joined Richie Hawtin on stage during his set at the Neon Garden. Meanwhile, John Legend joined Tiesto onstage at the KineticTemple on the final evening.
Moby even made a surprise appearance during a special 20th anniversary celebration at midnight on Night One, complete with a vibrant fireworks show.
03. Drum'n'Bass Legends Bad Company, Andy C and Pendulum at the BassPod
The BassPod stage boasted some epic drum'n'bass sets from recently reunited legends Bad Company UK on Night One and Pendulum on Night Three. Bad Company's set was hands-down one of the highlights of the entire weekend, although the crowd was oddly thinned at that point. Here's hoping the band shares the audio from the set so everyone can experience it.
Overall, to call the stage "lit" would be an understatement: the second night featured just a few heavy minutes from Andy C before the BassPod itself actually set on fire.
04. Caspa B2B Rusko
Between Excision, Snails and Doctor P B2B Cookie Monsta B2B FuntCase, dubstep was alive and well at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway this past weekend. The dubstep set that took the cake was Caspa B2B Rusko at the BassPod Saturday evening. Proof it was next-level: Paper Diamond, who performed earlier in the evening at the CosmicMeadow stage, was spotted dancing to the UKF Dubstep duo like his life depended on it (complete with a huge grin) by the sound booth.
05. Practicing PLUR IRL
For everyone at the event, PLUR is more than just four-letter acronym driving the exchange of kandi (brightly colored hand-crafted plastic-beaded bracelets). For Insomniac in particular, PLUR -- or the ravers' code of "Peace, Love, Unity and Respect" -- means inclusivity, which the 20th anniversary edition of the event took pretty seriously.
Smirnoff, for example, spread some seriously PLUR vibes by hosting and livestreaming one of the first federally sanctioned same-sex weddings at EDC Las Vegas since the Supreme Court decision last year. The reception was held in Smirnoff House, the alcohol brand's fully immersive (and air conditioned) bar and side stage that was quite literally a cute little house complete with fake grass, a white picket fence, and cozy bean bag chairs.
06. Extended Sets by Anna Lunoe and Nicole Moudaber
Inclusivity also means gender visibility, a concept that EDM culture is still struggling to embrace. While attendees were treated to sets by a few leading ladies of different electronic dance genres including Maya Jane Coles, Nicole Moudaber, Anna Lunoe, Alison Wonderland, Julia Govor, Stephanie and J. Phlip, gender visibility at the event is still stuck in the "pics or it didn't happen" zone.
That all being said, the extended sets by Lunoe and Moudaber in particular were highlights.
Those who made it to Night Two "early," or when gates opened just before sunset, were lucky enough to catch the Australian future bass goddess Lunoe throw down for just over an hour at the KineticTemple stage, which according to a press statement spanned 446 feet wide and stood 95 feet tall and was equipped with 1,400 light fixtures, 26 lasers, 33 flame units and more than 800 LED panels.
At one point, she stood atop the DJ booth in front of the giant glowing "Tree of Imagination" as she coaxed the crowd through the bass-driven in the 100 degree summer night. Her set included at least three previously unheard tracks, but unfortunately they were removed from the live recording of the set she posted on her Soundcloud. Her set is still worth turning up; listen below:
Techno fans who weren't lured to the massive KineticTemple by huge names like The Chainsmokers followed by Above & Beyond were lucky enough to catch the dark techno queen known as Nicole Moudaber drop one of the best sets of the weekend in the NeonGarden tent. The MOOD label lead hosted her own stage at EDC New York earlier this summer and more than held her own despite playing at the same exact time as the aforementioned titans of electronic music.
07. The Art Car Sets
Three different art cars rolled around the Speedway with full lineups of their own. It was truly awesome stumbling upon these mobile dance party machines while meandering in-between stages; they completed the full list of 8 different festival stages and really tied the whole experience together.
The WideAwake art car looked like a classic circus trailer and often featured some of the festival's talented dancers dressed as neon clowns and other brightly colored carnival characters alongside Insomniac favorites like Fallen, Bones and DJ Trance just to name a few. The WideAwake mobile stage has made its rounds of Burning Man before, and carried all those good desert vibes with it throughout the weekend.
Hosted by Cats & Boots Records, the BoomBox art car was designed as a huge boombox outlined in LED lights and featured artists like Moni and Trouble. Meanwhile, the fully-immersive Kalliope allowed passengers on board while classic artists like Tommie Sunshine, Frankie Bones and Brad Moontribe threw down desert rave-ready sets.
Between the eight different stages, the ten minutes of fireworks featured each night, the carnival rides, the art installations, the vibrant crowd rocking costumes and the parades and other performances sprinkled throughout, the event boasted the best visuals one could ever imagine experiencing in real life.
09. EDC Town and Carnival Square
In addition to all the opportunities to dance, there were several other fully immersive experiences. The "town" was home to a chapel, a post office complete with postcards ready to be mailed anywhere on earth and the Little Red Schoolhouse, where attendees could make kandi and participate in other activities led by a crew of zany "schoolteachers."
Meanwhile, Carnival Square was a cozy place to chill and snack on festival foods while playing carnival games. HeadCount, the nonpartisan voter registration organization, was helping attendees register to vote in light of the upcoming elections at their table in the Square.
10. The Rides
It's called Electric Daisy Carnival for a reason: There were 18 full-scale carnival rides including several ferris wheels, a water flume and the swings. The best part is that access to the rides was free with passes.
Although the lines tended to be pretty long, they provided attendees an excuse to chill out and get to know one another. On the second night, I rode the ferris wheel as the sun set with a bi-coastal couple who first met at the event several years ago, which pretty much sums up the entire experience.