View more photos in Timothy Norris' “Electric Daisy Carnival” slideshow.
Every year at this time, a sadly sizable contingent of L.A. media trot out the same tired warhorse in regard to the Electric Daisy Carnival. It's all shock and awe that 800 kazillion people faithfully flock to the annual dance music bacchanal. (Actual numbers are awaiting official tally, but we were told 85k Friday,/100k Saturday by the festival's publicist).
Where is the surprise? Fifteen years strong, EDC is considerably older than more acclaimed events like Coachella and Bonnaroo. But from technophobes quick to dismiss dance music, to insider purists soured on the crowd-pleasing line-ups, the Daisy is the Rodney Dangerfield of festivals: it gets no respect
No matter. The Daisy doesn't need hype or critical approval to pull capacity crowds and deliver the modern-day version of the Greatest Show on Earth — not to mention one hell of a down-and-dirty good time.
Like any music festival, EDC can be a harsh mistress. Attendees have to weigh how much aggravation they'll put up with in exchange for the big experience. Traffic on both days this year brought Downtown L.A. to a standstill. Maneuvering the festival itself was a literal maze, with the “Cosmic Meadow” stage shunted off to a hard-to-find corner behind an extended barricade.
The scene was somewhere between Mardi Gras, Halloween and a parent's worst nightmare, particularly in regards to the underage “prosti-tots” prone to running around wearing little more than panties and pasties. Of course, there was the occasional substance casualty, but in a crowd that size, they're to be expected, so please don't call the rave police.
(LAFD reports that their personnel responded to 226 on-site emergencies; 114 people were transported to area hospitals.)
But these are minor quibbles against what was a non-stop barrage of sensory-overloading party bliss. Even the most casual of observers couldn't help but be impressed on Saturday night as the sun set over a crushing set from Laidbake Luke to a packed L.A. Coliseum, with none less than Lil Jon rushing the stage to serve as his hype-man — as well as promote a new single features Luke, Steve Aoki and himself — with massive fireworks exploding overhead.
Followed by an equally bombastic set from Benny Benassi, it was during that moment when the power of the music and ever-expanding culture was most apparent.
At this year's EDC, none burned brighter than headliner Deadmau5. If the ocean of T-shirts emblazoned with his Mau5-head — and the well-designed imitation helmets in the crowd — are any indication, he's already one of the biggest rock stars in America.
His Friday night closing set in the Coliseum was a triumphant reinforcement that he's doing it larger than anybody in the dance music game right now. Deadmau5 is just one recognizable hit away from crashing the mainstream in a way this country hasn't seen since Daft Punk invaded from France. Many will argue the merits of the music and the mask, but it's the entire package that makes him the dance artist most likely to have his own lunchbox.
While ECD 2010 front-loaded the line-up with proven stars like Kaskade, Moby and Armin Van Buuren (not to mention a dedicated jungle stage featuring the likes of LTJ Bukem and Dieselboy), they also brought out something brand new.
Duck Sauce is an inspired collaboration between stalwart house house music vet Armand Van Helden and new-school player A-Trak. Their party-powered set of no-frills, good-time jams might have been the highlight of a weekend chock full of them. While some might have preferred to see Duck Sauce on the massive Coliseum stage (ahem), it's just another minor quibble.
Electric Daisy Carnival was well worth the trip.