Saturday night at the 2012 Electric Daisy Carnival was anticipated by many to be the most eventful of the three-day festival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but extreme weather forced the festival to shut down its acts for the night out of safety concerns.
Increasingly strong winds started around 8 p.m., leading to a temporary shutdown of the festival at around 1 a.m. An estimated 90,000 fans were directed to the speedway’s bleachers as winds reached 30 mph. The acts resumed for a short period but officials then ordered an end to the night's festival because potentially dangerous winds were expected through 5 a.m.
"At 2:45 a.m. Insomniac, the producer of Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas, in consultation with public safety officials, made the decision that due to extremely high wind conditions, the crowd would be cleared away from the stage areas," said a statement released by promoters. "The decision was made out of an abundance of caution and with fan safety in mind."
Fans inside the festival were allowed stay until 5:30 a.m. in the infield grass, where music from temporary sound systems was played. But gates were closed to arrivals and the night's attendance topped at about 90,000.
"Insomniac shares our fans' disappointment that weather conditions changed the second night of the Electric Daisy Carnival experience," said Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella. "Our top priority has always been fan safety and we expect that Mother Nature will be more cooperative tomorrow as we prepare for an amazing day three."
At first, the hope was that the winds would subside. A venue-wide announcement over the PA system said, “This is for your safety, this is a temporary situation. The music will continue as soon as the wind dies." Crowds were asked to keep at least 100 feet from the stages.
According to festival security, the situation came as a preventive measure to avoid any risk posed to the integrity of the seven temporary stages. Last year, a music stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed amid high winds, killing five and injuring dozens of others.
Fans made their way to the grandstand, though many were frustrated to have the sets of headliners like Scottish DJ Calvin Harris cut off. At one point, the crowd herded into the north end of the stands began chanting “refund.”
“I’m just glad they’re making sure we’re safe,” said Las Vegas resident Amy Messmann, who also attended last year’s festival. “Everyone here knows it’s for their own safety. They’re here for a good time, and they know being rowdy or violent isn’t going to turn the music on faster.”
For some EDC die-hards (and over-caffeinated reporters), the show did unofficially go on at the Speedway last night. Several thousand fans stuck around the Speedway till the fest's scheduled end at 5:30 a.m., during which time they were treated to surprise sets from DJs Steve Aoki and Markus Schulz (both scheduled to play that night) on small "art car" stages in the venue's grassy Cosmic Meadow area.
Notes from the night:
• At 1 a.m., Don Chareunsy, the Sun’s arts and entertainment editor, began the trek home from the Speedway with two friends after standing in the entrance line at EDC for about an hour. “The line was moving, but then it stopped for about 20 to 25 minutes. Nobody was being let inside, then people were emerging from the Speedway saying that EDC was closed for the night.
“Naturally, people were upset and disappointed—the festival-goer who didn’t even make it past the ID check lines with his blown-up green alien looked especially sad—but you can’t control Mother Nature. It was really windy and a little cold for Las Vegas.”
When Chareunsy dropped off his friends at Cosmopolitan, shuttles were still departing the casino resort for EDC.
• At 1:50 a.m., attendees were cleared to return to the venue, but winds picked up again. Half an hour later, performers had yet to return to the stages.
• At 2:10 a.m., Insomniac released the following statement:
With approximately 90,000 fans who have cleared the turnstiles as of 1 a.m. tonight, Insomniac, the producer of Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas asked fans to calmly head to the stands of Las Vegas Motor Speedway as high winds posed a possible threat to fan safety.
At approximately 1 a.m., Insomniac, in conjunction with public safety officials, made the decision to temporarily halt the show while an evaluation on wind conditions was made.
“Fan safety is Insomniac’s highest priority. We cannot control Mother Nature, and we are taking every precaution while high winds continue and have cleared the stage areas temporarily as a preventative measure,” said Pasquale Rotella, the founder and CEO of Insomniac. “We are asking fans to be patient inside and outside the venue while we evaluate the weather conditions.
“As winds are being assessed, a final decision on the status of the production is pending.”
• Overheard on the security radio at 2:30 a.m.: The fire marshal was shutting down the festival for the rest of the night. Traffic reports showed a high volume of attendees leaving around the same time.
• By 2:45 a.m., Metro officers onsite were confirming that the fire marshal had shut down all performances and rides at the festival as the enormous Circuit Grounds stage suffered damage, and winds were expected to remain around 30 mph until 5 a.m.
However, attendees weren’t yet being kicked out and were welcome to remain at LVMS. As of now, the festival will continue with today’s events as planned beginning at 7 p.m.
• At 3:06 a.m., festivalgoers were told to exit the Speedway.
Follow Andrea Domanick on Twitter at @AndreaDomanick.