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An Electric Daisy Carnival wrap-up through Vegas eyes

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Attendees stretch as far as the eye can see from the main stage during Electric Daisy Carnival 2009.
Photo: Richard Brian

If an entire city full of electronic music fans existed, it would have looked like Electric Daisy Carnival last weekend. Taking over the L.A. Memorial Coliseum and Exposition Park with five stages and some of the biggest names in dance music, the offical word is the massive event topped out around 90,000 fans on Saturday (plus 45,000 on Friday—the first time in EDC’s 13-year history an extra day was added).

“It was like we were in our own little music town,” said first time attendee LaRue who drove to LA from Vegas with friends. Numerous other Vegas residents made the road trip to the event for a weekend unlike anything in our city. “I wanted the experience of sharing this musical vibe with thousands of people,” she explained. “I love to dance and I love the music—it’s so mindboggling and takes over my body and makes me want to move and forget every care I have.”

Electric Daisy Carnival 2009

Familiar faces to Vegas included big-name residents from Rain Nightclub, Paul Oakenfold and DJ AM. While Oakie’s set Friday night at EDC was decidedly familiar and routine (yes, he spun “My Otherside” early in his set as usual), reports from DJ AM’s stage on Saturday were surprising.

“I figured [AM] would play do his usual Vegas thing,” said Mike Kamer, an LA photographer who makes frequent trips back home to Vegas. Instead, AM dropped an old school version of “The Launch,” some 8-bit Tetris style music and other surprises. "It’s not something he would get away with in Vegas... When he played ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ the gate broke and 50 ravers poured in!” says Kamer.

Las Vegas natives The Crystal Method continued their live Divided by Night tour stage extravaganza over at the Circuit Grounds during the peak of the Saturday night energy and fans stretched as far as the eye could see. Though the crowd was far larger than the one that packed the House of Blues for TCM’s local show over Memorial Day weekend, the live set itself was similar, but still intriguing and worth checking out.

The Crystal Method performing live during EDC 2009.

One set that would have given you something to text home about if your cell phone didn’t crap out was Fake Blood on Friday in the Neon Garden. Just like the Villains last year, it was someone lesser known playing on a smaller stage that stuck out the most. (We’re on Beatport downloading Fake Blood’s productions and remixes right now and begging a club to bring the Brit to town).

Much like Coachella and other multiple stage festivals, EDC 2009 came with art exhibitions in the form of a giant LED cube, bamboo intertwined with existing tress and rebar and chains shaped into human forms cradling fire. A wooden house served as an interactive art project with attendees surrounding the house and decorating the walls—and each other – in neon paint. And what would Electric Daisy Carnival be without rides? This year expanded to 14 attractions that ranged from a giant slide and house of mirrors to the super shot and orbiter.

Artists from Coachella and Burning Man had installations throughout EDC.

“I think is my seventh year,” said Kamer. “The turnout you’re seeing is more and more people that aren’t wearing fuzzy pants. The word is getting out that it’s not just for ravers, though you can let all the crazy people there be part of the entertainment.”

“Vegas has a lot to learn about putting on parties like that,” said Jason McCormac, who works in marketing at Tao and Lavo.

The event staff at EDC seemed to be having as much fun as the attendees and warmly accepted plastic bead bracelets and other trappings of electronic music festivals.

“It was such a large scale event and done well and very organized,” summarized McCormac. “Back in 1999 and 2000, I went to a few [massives]. The vibe [at EDC] was more about the music, where back in the day it was more about the drugs. The energy was really good and it was peaceful and everyone was polite.”

“There was no violence and no fighting,” continued LaRue. “Of course, some people were on E,” she laughed.

Overall, however, the vibe was peaceful and pleasant. Even when a group of people rushed the gate, security just put up their hands in defeat and laughed.

Of course, every festival has its share of incidents. Friday night in the 21 plus VIP area, a rather large dude probably in his mid 30s decided it was a good idea to get completely naked and stand atop a bench. The staff patiently spoke to him and eventually escorted him out, sans clothing.

Awkward nudity aside, it was the positive memories that attendees brought back to Vegas along with a desire for something of EDC’s scale in our city. “To me, smaller venues and crowds [in Vegas clubs] are kind of nice, but just being at something with so many people? You can’t compare, in my opinion,” said LaRue.

And the highlights? “David Guetta tore it up,” McCormac offered. “And Benny Benassi played like I’ve never heard him play. Both were very powerful. My favorite though was Fake Blood or the Lawgivers—I’ve never heard either of them.”

Electric Daisy Carnival 2009

“I really enjoyed Roger Sanchez,” LaRue said. “Of course PVD was awesome, Major Lazer was good over in the Drum n Bass area. I like Infected Mushroom, and I’m a big fan of The Crystal Method.”

Granted, the Vegas club scene has undergone significant change in the past year. Though the first real try at a massive in town last November at the Orleans Arena yielded less attendees than hoped, it still marked an elevation of the city’s dance culture that the attempt was made at all. With Paul Oakenfold presents Perfecto at Rain going strong, plus a very successful Love Festival over Memorial Weekend, the popularity of electronic music in Vegas is growing, but will still have a lot to learn.

“[EDC] totally blew everything in Vegas away,” agreed McCormac. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

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