Monday, June 27, 2011 | 9:54 a.m.
Editor’s note: 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.
Perhaps it was fitting that the last night of Electric Daisy Carnival's three-day run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was anchored by the man who helped to start it all, Paul Oakenfold.
Not only did the Brit have a hand in bringing the world rave culture when he imported the Balearic beach party ethos and paired it with American house music and psychedelic love drugs, but he also become one of the first spinners to pioneer the marquee DJ residency in Vegas.
On that note, Oakey proved why he's the Wayne Newton of electronic dance music by producing a snappy set of pop-trance, including his crowd-pleasing re-rub of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' “Otherside” and a stuccato-style version of the Eurythmics' “Sweet Dreams.”
His main stage (Kinetic Field) tunes were super-melodic and saccharine, unapologetic windows to the world of furry boots and angel wings.
Oakenfold mixed atop the desk in his trademark style, with the top of his headphones across his face. And when a moment seemed to signal catharsis, he reached his arms out like Christ the Redeemer.
Nearby Miami club jock Robbie Rivera presented some of his own breakthrough moments, wowing an impressive crowd at the Cosmic Meadow stage with a fairly unique blend of tribal trance. Rivera's own productions, like those of many top DJs these days, can come off as pop surrounded by secondary but necessary beats. But live Rivera showcased a meaner, more combustible side that he cooled off with the occasional diva vocal bridge.
The happy juice was served up by West Coast house legend Donald Glaude, a party-rocker so capable that he could awaken the dead and have them raving if so assigned. Unfortunately the dreadlocked spinner was confined to the small Heineken Domes, resulting in a considerable line to get in.
As usual, Glaude had his fans inside the Igloo-like venue popping like whack-a-moles as he rinsed Duck Sauce's “Barbra Streisand,” a remix of Depeche Mode's “Personal Jesus” and other whirling, relentless, post-disco tunes.
At the Circuit Grounds, a side stage that seemed to handle bigger DJs Sunday for some reason, Sean Tyas & Simon Patterson tore it up with uncompromising, true trance. While folks like Steve Angello are peppering their house with trance chords and trance titans like Tiësto have been shamed into slowing down their sets, Tyas and Patterson went straight forward with blistering, 142-beats-per-minute trance.
Maybe that's why trance has sucked for so long: Too many DJs have been bastardizing it with ethereal waif lyrics and Tinker Bell melodies. These two reminded us what trance used to sound like when it was good: driving, groovy, brooding even.
- Electric Daisy Carnival
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The crowd swelled at the end of Tyas and Patterson's set. That's because Ferry Corsten was on next. Once one of the top two or three spinners in the world, Corsten, whose System F guise helped hail the era of accessible, melodic trance, was now a side show.
No matter, Corsten loomed large and shook his fist at the crowd as his own 132-beats-per-minute grooves took on a clubbier, more Latin vibe. His set would have fit in perfectly at Miami's hedonistic club Space, but the candy kids were feeling it too.
The night's peak time belonged to Swedish House Mafia, a trio barely known five years ago, now beating out the likes of Oakenfold and Corsten for prime-time booking. The three guys in black T-shirts hovered over the main-stage decks and churned out their telltale sound—arpeggio-punctuated house based on radio hits (often edits, remixes or whole productions that are their own).
They played Simian's “We Are Your Friends,” and Ian Carey's “Keep on Rising.” Predictable, yeah. But the main stage masses couldn't get enough. They'll have to wait until next year's EDC for more.