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...Reporter's Notebook: Electric Daisy Carnival proves EDM fests need fresh moves
With a lot of venues and fests making EDM available to Southern Californians all year round, the acts at Las Vegas' fest aren't new and exciting. Dance festivals need another approach to stay relevant.
As long as there has been electronic dance music, there has been at least one dumb complaint about it — that all the music sounds the same.
That's a tedious line, one usually said by rock snobs who proudly admit they don't listen to the stuff. But this year, they have a point — as least as far as dance music festivals go in Southern California and Las Vegas. The latter is the home of this weekend's Electric Daisy Carnival, the main event for the L.A. promotion firm Insomniac.
Looking at this year's sold-out EDC bill, it's clear there has never been a better time to be a dance music fan in America, and Southern California in particular. But that embarrassment of riches has had a curious effect on the year's marquee dance event.
EDC's comprehensive collection of 2013 dance music acts is oddly lacking in drop-everything-and-get-to-Vegas-now sets.
The problem isn't that the top-tier artists headlining and supporting at this weekend's Electric Daisy Carnival all sound similar to each other. They in fact represent a wide range: pop-friendly stadium titans such as Avicii and Tiesto, bleary minimalists such as Jamie Jones, dub step acts meant for crushing energy drink cans on your forehead.
The issue is that we've seen most of these acts recently — or are about to see them again very soon.
As headliners go, Tiesto headlined Staples in March, Avicii played Vanguard (now Create, another Insomniac-booked club) in February after a three-night Santa Monica stand in September, and Calvin Harris did the Hollywood Palladium in April. Dog Blood headlined Coachella's dance tent this year, and will headline HARD Summer again in August.
The undercard? Arty, Madeon and Rebecca & Fiona played Insomniac's own Exchange LA earlier this year; Eric Prydz, Jamie Jones and Richie Hawtin played major Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival sets just a few months ago. Claude von Stroke and his great Dirtybird house crew have a whole tent at the upcoming HARD Summer; and Skrillex's OWSLA label had their own with Alvin Risk and Dillon Francis at last year's version of the same. Knife Party, Tommy Trash and Major Lazer topped the bill at HARD's Day of the Dead last fall.
There are a few left-field surprises, like Chicago house vet Green Velvet and synth-pop act La Roux — but not quite enough to make up for what's all-too-familiar at this point.
One reason Electric Daisy is in this tough spot is that over the last few years, concert promoters have been in an electronic dance music arms race. New venues seem to open every few months; major firms like Live Nation are buying up stakes in indie promoters like HARD and Insomniac; EDM's biggest acts are playing arenas like Staples Center, and L.A.'s downtown warehouse scene is just sopping with essential underground club nights.
This is more of a sign of a healthy L.A. night life ecosystem than any malaise in the genre or at Electric Daisy. But it does leave the fest with a weird task. What if being the biggest and the best fest of its scale isn't synonymous with being exciting anymore? What if the saturation of EDM options in L.A. (and Vegas) has done the same thing to dance music that the Internet has done to pop culture in general: make everything too available all at once, all the time, to everyone?
At last year's EDMBiz, a dance-music conference a few days before Electric Daisy, Insomniac founder Pasquale Rotella suggested that he's losing interest in mega-bills of superstars, and wants to plow more of that money into the dizzying lights and installation art at Electric Daisy. Coachella took a similar tactic this year, dialing back on arena-fillers but revamping the Sahara Tent and introducing a new, incredibly popular Yuma tent for underground acts.
EDC will need it, and maybe soon. Dance fests have a tougher time booking holy-cow sets than rock and generalist fests do (it's hard to break up a band and reunite years later at Coachella when the "band" is just you behind turntables). The preponderance of venues and fests in L.A. means you'll see potential new superstars come through town more often than your family, thus losing their novelty.
Electronic dance music won't be at the vanguard of U.S. pop culture forever. The decisions promoters make now about how to present new stars in must-see ways will determine if the genre will be a perpetually relevant part of American night life, or a shorthand for that crazy Obama-era time when kids wore rimless sunglasses and neon bikinis to a racetrack rave in Las Vegas.
Now that we're several years into an American EDM boom, it's high time to ask the same questions that Europe did 20 years ago when it was facing the same issues. Any DJ worth his salt will have surprises at each new set. But if we're going to treat DJs like rock stars, dance festivals have to deliver something singular and essential every time, if only to prove that this rich strain of music doesn't all sound the same.
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This guy I know who is going to EDC for his second straight year made it sound like he was going mainly because of all the scantily clad girls than for the music.
When I went to it in 2011 it was a really good festival. Really good. Why shouldn't he go? Although the lineup is not as strong this year.
Certain songs they get so scratched into our souls
God, I feel so uncool for not going to EDC this weekend, mainly because I haven't been keeping up to date with some of these dj's. There are still a hand full of names I recognize though.
Last time I went to EDC it was in 2010, the last time it was held in LA. Just a 15 minute drive, that's all it took, sucks I'm broke, or else I'd go to Vegas.
Perhaps I'll go next year, hopefully the economy will be better and I'll be working 40 hours a week.
Have fun to whoever goes!
You shouldn't feel uncool for not going to EDC, you should feel uncool because you are uncool.
I'm still not entirely sure what to expect at the Night Owl experience. My group has downloaded the app, we show up, then something cool happens?
Why ______________________ ?
2015 Coachella FF Team = OBJYNOriginally Posted by Coachella FAQ;
EDC was fucking amazing this year. The fantastic design of the mainstage that opted for something more artful instead of just increasing the LED screen size year to year. The huge blacklights that turned the kinetic field neon like an indoor club. Insomniac's decision to put more popular acts like Jack Beats on the Cosmic Meadow Sunday and to break up the trance stages to mix up the genres at each stage and expose a lot of people to non-cheese EDM. Losing my shit at Richie Hawtin on the mainstage during his climactic ending. The lowering circuit ground lights. The solid schedule that only left me bored for about an hour the entire weekend, that doesn't peak with headliners the end of the night but instead is non-stop big acts. Getting a surge of energy from listening to Booka Shade late in the night. Watching the sun come up behind us during Markus Schultz's saturday set and seeing everyone's faces light up.
All of you idiots bitching are fucktards. Aren't all of djs on the Neon Garden stage the ones that you worship endlessly, and yet you still complain about the lineup? Pete Tong, Sasha, Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, John Digweed, Adam Beyer fucking killed it, who the fuck else would you like to be there? The food sucked and the night owl experience was a bit lame. Everything else was fucking top notch.
If I had to pick, this is the first time I would now choose EDC over Coachella. I'll take mainstage techno over waiting 30 minutes to see someone in a fucking tiny cramped smokey nightclub. Thank you so much Insomniac, it was exhausting but I'll definitely be back next year.
the partnership with Live Nation really allowed Insomniac to take the festival to new heights this year. They completely ripped off Tomorrowland w/ the stage design, but that's fine, they pulled it off. the festival ran as smooth as possible this year, it was very impressive. The lineup still leaves a bit to be desired for me, but overall i thought this year was top notch stuff.
I had the best time this weekend. Everything went smoothly. Insomniac did an excellent job this year.
Coachella Vet. 03,05,07,08,09,10,11,12,13,and 14
It really was fantastic. The production values are off the chart. Did anybody else get a pair of those prism glasses they were handing out? They made the visuals almost too much to handle!! The weather was also perfect the entire weekend.
1) Knife Party (Sunday)
2) Laidback Luke
3) Dillon Francis
4) Ritchie Hawtin
5) Porter Robinson
Hm- Dog Blood, Eric Prydz, Jaime Jones
COACHELLA- 99, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12 (wk 1 & 2), 13 (wk 1 &2), 14 (wk 1 & 2), 15(wk 1&2), 16 (wk 1&2)
I had a blast. Definitely was a huge step up from last year.
"Officers reported 49 felony arrests at the electronic dance music festival that ran during the nights and wrapped up at 5:30 a.m. Monday. Authorities said there were more than 600 calls for medical help, but only a handful of hospitalizations and no known deaths as of closing time, according to Las Vegas Police Officer Larry Hadfield."
For those that were questioning the amount of space, Insomniac increased the amount of square footage for the entire festival. The stages were adequately spread out and the port-a-potties were spread out so that each stage had a bank of potties relatively close to a stage, which was an upgrade from last year. The traffic situation was better and I think that they took ques from NASCAR in the traffic situation. I'm curious about how the shuttle system worked in comparison to last year. I know that they went through suburbs which expidited the going to and from the festival. But I'd like to know if the boarding process is close to the way the Coachella shuttles work. I went to the 2007 LA EDC, last year, and this year. You can definately appreciate the changes and I'll definately be going next year.
I can see you are on the verge of migrating from shit EDM to solid EDM. Why don't you spend some time seeing a wide diversity of underground music and then let me know if you still think EDC is the greatest festival in the world. Or maybe you only get out twice a year. In that case enjoy your amazing festival experience!
"How long will this last, this delicious feeling of being alive, of having penetrated the veil which hides beauty and the wonders of celestial vistas? It doesn't matter, as there can be nothing but gratitude for even a glimpse of what exists for those who can become open to it."
Maybe there are people you don't want invading your underground scene, though. And maybe there are people that don't care to explore their EDM enjoyment beyond what they already know and are comfortable with. Certainly Insomniac will continue to provide pricey large scale production, massive crowds, and "not-underground-but-underground-enough" artists that satiate those people.
Comparing EDC, Coachella, and DEMF in any capacity is a pretty stupid and futile exercise in and of itself.
EDC was absolutely incredible. If anybody finds any recordings, please share them.
1. ...................::::::::::::::::::::::::::SASHA :::::::::::::::................................
2. Jamie Jones
3. Adam Beyer
4. Booka Shade
5. Art Department
Let's take nickO, for instance. He's slobbered over EDC and every Insomniac event for years now. Then he went to Detroit and no one on the boards has heard from him since -- the only logical explanation being that he's removed himself from the internet to travel through other worldly techno hotspots, reflecting upon the error of his ways, and steeped in deep remorse and shame for being so utterly narrow minded.