Sunday, June 26, 2011 | 2:37 p.m.
Las Vegas Weekly coverage
Electric Daisy Carnival's three-day party at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is on its way to meeting or beating the crowd numbers posted by America's most beloved alt-pop festival, Coachella. After Friday's 70,000-to-75,000 count, the event was said to have done 85,000 on Saturday. And there's still one day left. Coachella sold 75,000 three-day tickets for its April event (though, in fairness, Coachella tickets did sell out in a week, prompting that festival to add a second weekend for 2012).
For the last year the promoters of EDC have been trying to prove that this thing is more than an all-night rave. With epic sound systems that could teach Coachella a thing or two (including EDC's five big stages of booming bass and impressive lack of bleeding), the party has become a destination with global production quality.
Whether it has transcended its ecstatic past is a judgment better left up to you, but EDC's first two nights proved that electronic dance music is ascendant. On Saturday, pop star DJ David Guetta performed radio hits in a banging, mixed format, cutting out the sound so that the massive could fill in the words. And that they did on “Where Them Girls At.”
“I hope you're ready to rock this shit,” he told the crowd, which was bigger by far than Tiësto's own main stage following the night before.
It was strange seeing the once-underground sound of electronic dance music being played in a once-underground medium in a wholly mainstream context—a call-and-response test that any radio listener could have passed. Guetta was a rock star, and the only thing missing was a guitar.
His warm-up, Benny Benassi is another spinner who has become a pop collaborator and full-time A-lister in the DJ booth. You might have forgotten all that listening to him, however. His music was all buildups, thunder and screaming acid loops. It was as they, say, all killer, no filler. Bangin'.
If EDC belonged to any one artist, that would be Green Velvet. The longtime Chicago spinner has seen a renaissance as some of his tracks have been remixed by contemporary jocks. His ode to nitrous oxide abuse, “Flash,” was omnipresent at EDC, played by everyone from Tiësto to Dirty South to Guetta himself.
Strangely Green Velvet seems to be more revered by the DJ elite than by the kids at Electric Daisy. The Circuit Grounds field was only about one-third filled during his set. Still, we saw it grow as Green Velvet unleashed his twisted, psychedelic disco (“Coffee Pot,” et al.), and there were plenty of smiling faces when his last track proclaimed that “You are so Milli Vanilli.”
LA Riots, the cool kid act based in Los Angeles, was awash in relentless trance-house punctuated by squelching synths. If you wanted your dance music volume at 11, this was the act to see. But subtlety and groove were lost somewhere in the Motor Speedway's infield.
The EC Twins, a buzz act featuring two guys in matching pork pie hats and sleeveless T-shirts, was “a fail” in the Heineken Domes. The duo lost all sound and fumbled the mixer and decks as the music came back at hyperspeed. They finally found the plot, but the guys' version of frat-house dance music, Daft Punk set to pogo beast as they aped up and down like they were just creating lightning, was more DJ Pauly D than EDC.
We were surprised to find live acts at the party. They give it credibility. Empire of the Sun, complete with a drum kit, a quartet of dancers and a flamboyant sense of theater was mesmerizing, even to the candy kids, who seemed to gather despite themselves. Empire was a Gaga-like vision of ’80s goth for the Millennial generation—a glamorous redux of the age-old art of dance music.
LA Weekly’s Dennis Romero, a veteran dance music writer who covered EDC LA 2010 and its aftermath, will provide exclusive coverage of EDC Las Vegas throughout its three nights for Las Vegas Weekly.