Electric Daisy Carnival: The Best Kind of Zombie Nation

Posted July 2, 2013 in

Electric Daisy Carnival lit up Vegas for fun costumes and epic DJ sets. Photo: Eric Kabik

On June 21 to 25, I headed to Las Vegas for one of the biggest parties/festivals of the year, Insomniac’s 17th Electric Daisy Carnival! Once again, for three days straight, some of the best DJs in the world would all be in one place for another sold-out crowd at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the biggest all-night party, literally. From 7 p.m. to sunrise, there would be nonstop music. Las Vegas is already known as the city to party in, but during EDC weekend, something magical happens: It’s party level of 10 doubles and by two and multiplies to infinity. Parties on parties on top of parties, to the-kick off events at all the major clubs that Thursday to the pool parties with all the DJs playing the event! It’s like taking amazing, adding glorious sprinkled with sin, but the fun kind. 

Friday June 21:
When I walked into the Las Vegas motor speedway, I was hit with color—color from the lights, color from the beautiful, soon-to-be super moon and color from all the eccentric outfits walking into Electric Daisy Carnival right in front of me. The elaborate outfits on a majority of the attendees was truly beautiful. I could tell that most of them had put an incredible amount of thought and time into their outfits. A careful month of planning all for a weekend in Las Vegas, but not just any weekend in Vegas—this was EDC weekend. EDC was the place where anyone was accepted and could truly be free to be their true selves. It was the place and time where we all came together for one common purpose¬, the music. The music evoked feeling and swayed our souls, the music that we, most of the time, could only enjoy in the privacy of our room or headphones, but here at EDC, we were able to not only listen to our favorite music but also feel it. 
Once again, Insomniac had outdone themselves. Not only were there seven massive stages with production that would make Bill Gates cry, but they also had about three gigantic moving structures that played music while moving all over the grounds. There was a ship, a space ship and I couldn’t really figure out what the other one was, but I appreciated it all the same. Also featured at Electric Daisy Carnival again this year was the Discovery Project stage where less known DJs/Producers were given a shot to get their name out and show what they could do like Long Beach’s Von Don.
 Another cool place that I found myself taking a break in a lot during the weekend was the Sony lounge. It was a double-story structure, and on the first floor was the dance floor where, in the middle of it, they featured a couple of Sony tablets in a fountain of water that cascaded off the tablet itself, aka impressive! I was pleasantly surprised when I got to see Willy Joy and Kids at the Bar break it down there, since I didn’t know they were DJing at EDC this year.
The first stage that I hit up was the Cosmic Meadow stage hosted by HARD, another company that puts on amazing electronic events like Holy Ship! or my favorite of theirs, HARD Haunted Mansion! The stage was massive and packed to the brim with people anxiously waiting for Fake Blood—it was about at 9:45 p.m.  I hadn’t seen Fake Blood in almost a year, and I’m so happy I started my EDC experience with him—he absolutely slayed it! He dropped a lot of tracks that I’m still looking for, but my favorite moment from his set that night was when he dropped “Pills” by Green Velvet and then mixed in his “Mars” track flawlessly! Fake Blood ended his set with his infamous track, “I Like it,” and it made the entire audience go crazy! Next up, around 10:45 p.m. were the Crookers, and I was glad that I didn’t have to move, since they were on the same stage. HARD did well!
The Crookers, now with only member Phra to command the decks since Bot left the group to explore a new direction, started off his set with their track “Dr.Gonzo,” one of my favorite head bangers. My favorite part of his set was when he dropped a remix of “Pop that Pussy” that made all the ratchets in the audience show their true colors. I haven’t seen that much twerking since last year’s EDC when Major Lazer first dropped their now smash hit “Bubble Butt”—it was a sight that would have made Juicy J proud!  The last song I heard them play before I made a run for the bathroom was their “Knobbers” track, which had the audience going ham!
One of my favorite things about the Electric Daisy Carnival is that there is literally music everywhere you go—it’s inescapable in the most beautiful of ways. On my way back to Cosmic Meadow stage for Boys Noize, who was performing at 11:55 p.m. that night, I happened to pass by the Basspod stage where Bro Safari was currently playing. I enjoyed seeing him, even if it was just for bit because he dropped the sickest trap track that featured one of my favorite lyrics from “Birthday Song,” one of 2 Chainz’s biggest hits. The track started off with the vocal “I got more bombs than Pakistan”! The last song I saw him drop was Flossttradamus’ “Can You Dig it.” Bro Safari made me almost want to stay where I was, but there was no way I was missing Boys Noize. 
After a couple of minor detours for dance breaks (Google it), I finally made it back just in time for Boys Noize. He started off his set with “XTC,” one of the many popular tracks off his new album, Into the Black. When he dropped “Be All Right,” it was as if he was speaking to the crowd. He played some ill reggae then transitioned into A$AP and Skrillex’s “Wild for The Night,” which went into this trap breakdown that I believe he made himself, since I haven’t been able to find it. He seriously blew my mind and then some! Other tracks that Boys Noize dropped that night that had the audience going crazy was “Stop” by Kill The Noise and his infamous cult classic, “Yeah.” 
Right before the drop, while only the beginning of the track was playing, fireworks went off—it was the first of the night that they had and it was perfect.  Right in the middle of “Yeah,” during the breakdown, he laid over the vocals from The Chemical Brothers’ track “Swoon”: “Just remember to fall in love, there’s nothing else,” and then went back into “Yeah,” only to later transition into “Smack My Bitch Up” by The Prodigy. Boys Noize seriously threw down my favorite set of the whole weekend. He ended his set with “Zombie Nation”—it was something else, probably because everyone there could relate, since, at that moment, we ourselves represented Zombie Nation at EDC, dancing through the night till sunrise.
The last set I caught was The Bloody Beetroots, who went on right after Boys Noize at about 3:15. Once again, I found myself saying, “HARD you did good.” The Bloody Beetroots performed live, and it was exhilarating. When they performed “Dimmakification,” their track off the popular record label, Dim Mak, owned by Steve Aoki, I was in heaven. I absolutely love how disco-Disney-like the song is, but how hard it still goes! One of the many you had to be there moments during their performance was when they threw a whole bottle of champagne into the crowd, which was caught perfectly by an eager audience member. Right after that, they performed the ultimate rave track, my favorite of theirs: “WARP”! There are no words to describe what it’s like to hear that track live, and even though I’ve seen it a million times now, I still get goose bumps when I hear it live. Right after that, my leg cramped, and I decided to head back to the hotel. There were still two more days and my body was in for a serious workout!
Saturday, June 22:
My second night at Insomniac’s Electric Daisy Carnival, I managed to make it there by 8:30 p.m., just in time to catch one of my favorite producers in the world, Green Velvet. He started off his set with his track, “Skeleton Key,” and later mixed in his  “Laser Beams” track perfectly. My favorite part of his set was when he dropped his “La La Land” track and then, later, made the crowd sing along to the chorus—it was transcendent. The last song I heard from him was his popular track “Shake and Pop.” By that time, one of my friends had manage to lose their selves at Carnage and needed to be rescued. By the time we found him, it was 12:45 a.m., and I was ready to head to Major Lazer at the Cosmic Meadow stage hosted by HARD, which was starting to become my favorite stage at EDC that weekend. 
By the time I got to the Cosmic Meadow Stage, the grounds were completely packed and the countdown had already begun for Major Lazer to come on. When Diplo walked onto the stage, my ears suffered from all the screaming coming from the every single female around—even some dudes too. Major Lazer started of their set with “Mashup The Dance,” a track off their new Free the Universe album. It was probably the best track to set the tone for the rest of their set—hard drums, sick Rasta vocals and horns, oh my!  They absolutely killed EDC, from dropping tracks like their “Original Don” or the sick rendition of Ace Hood’s “Bugatti” that they played, which had the audience completely manic. 
My favorite part was when they got on the microphone and asked if anyone knew about or liked dancehall, being from Brooklyn myself, that’s all I grew up with, so when “Welcome to Jamrock” by Damien Marley was dropped I lost it. Dropping hits like TOK’s “Badman Forward, Badman Pullup” to classics like “Murder She Wrote” turned EDC into Carnival for a few precious minutes. It was a beautiful tribute to dancehall music! Major Lazer later got back into their own original tracks like “Pod De Floor,” “Hold Yuh” and “Watch Out for This,” another track off their Free the Universe album, as well as the cult classic “Sweet Dreams” that they changed into a sick Rasta rendition. They ended their set with a hard style rendition of “Original Don”.
Once again, I found myself not moving from my spot since next up was Dog Blood, which is a side project, featuring Boys Noize and Skrillex combined. It was about 2:10 a.m. when they started off their set with their track, “Middlefinger,” which they added the sickest trap breakdown to. Their whole performance reminded me of the Bromance tour with Brodinski and Gesaffelstein in LA, just watching Skrillex and Boys Noize back to back, each puffin away like a boss. One of my favorite moments during their set was when a security guard behind the barricades was pouring water into the mouths of anyone in the audience who wanted some—it was like he knew how epic and crazy this set was making the crowd. It was a techno buffet with a small section of trap and Rasta cake. When they dropped their new single, “Kill Em with the Beat,” they did just that, and once again, the security guard was out pouring water. 
After Dogblood, I was ready for my East Coast playa, A-Trak, to take the stage. Right off the bat, A-Trak threw me for a loop but in the best way when he started off his set with Phil Collins’ popular track, “Air Night.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard a DJ start with Phil Collins before, but I’m sure after A-Trak doing it, it’ll soon be a trend. I think the reason I liked that he started off his set with this track the most is because the lyrics in the song, at that moment, were transcendent—it was beyond epic. He later mixed in Juicy J’s “Bandz a Make Her Dance” and once again, just like during the Crookers’ set the night before, EDC was turned up like no other—so much twerking! 
My favorite part was when he dropped Will Smith’s “Fresh Prince Of Bel Air” track. It was so cool when the whole audience started singing along! A-Trak took his set to the next level when he hit the crowd with what I believe was his remix of Daft Punk’s new single, “Get Lucky.” I hadn’t heard any good remixes of that song till then, so it was so great to finally hear a good one, since I love the track, but was growing tired of it due to it being overplayed. He ended his set with his cult classic remix of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll.” After A-Trak, I was ready to head back to the hotel and rest up for Day Three.
Sunday, June 23:
It was the final night of EDC, and the lineup was massive! It was about 9:45 p.m. when I got to Electric Daisy Carnival, just in time for BBC 1 radio’s Pete Tong. He started off his set with Breach’s “Jack,” and then mixed in the cult classic “I’ll House You” by the Jungle Brothers seamlessly.  Pete Tong absolutely killed it. The last song I heard him drop before I went to explore the grounds was “White Noise.” It drove the house heads in the crowd wild!  Next on my list was Jack Beats—I was ready for some wobble after all the trap I’d been hearing, to be honest, and I knew they would give it to me.
I got to Jack Beats around 10:35 p.m. I walked in on their track “Get Down,” my favorite wobbliest track of theirs. Their set was crazy—they went everywhere and beyond. From moombahton to some seriously funky electro to the most popular sub-genre in electro right now, trap. Fortunately they threw down trap that I had never heard before, so it was perfect! There was this Jay-Z track that used his infamous lyric, “Turn My Music (High).” They dropped a lot of their own tracks like “Epidemic,” “Carless” and a sick remix of “Suavemente” by Elvis Crespo. The last song I heard in their set was their remix of Project Bassline’s “Turn Up the Pressure.”
At this point, it was almost 11 p.m. and I took the time to check out the carnival side of EDC. The amount of costumes and dancers I saw this year was insane—the EDC costume designers had outdone themselves. My favorite costume was a full body suit made completely of disco ball material. Another cool thing EDC did this year was their 3-D experience cave, where they gave 3-D glasses to explore this room of floating neon fish, pogs, people etc. It was so cool in there! My favorite part about the carnival is the Ferris wheel. You can see everything from up there, and it was truly a sight to see. At this point, it was about 1:30 a.m. and I was ready for music after standing still in lines for rides. 
A couple of my friends wanted to see Calvin Harris, so we headed the Kinetic Field stage first: It was probably the biggest stage at EDC this year. Calvin Harris completely surprised me. I know him more as a poppy DJ, so I was surprised how hard his set was. My favorite track he dropped that night was Fat Boy Slim’s newest single, and he, I found, out debuted the song at EDC Las Vegas the night before. Everyone needs to go and buy this track—it has become my new summer anthem. Calvin Harris didn’t disappoint his pop fans when he dropped his collaboration with pop star Rihanna or his smash hit with Ellie Goulding ,“’I Need your Love.” He ended his set with his track, “Sweet Nothing,” featuring Florence Welch from Florence and The Machines. 
I got to Laidback Luke at the Circuit Grounds at about 2 a.m. and it was packed. The song that I walked in on was his remix of Wynter Gordan’s “Dirty Talk,” and then performed the sickest transition into his track ,“Till Tonight.” His set was epic—he dropped his remix of “Better off Alone” by Alice Deejay and EDC turned into Night at The Roxbury for two minutes. He did an amazing job, and I was surprised at how hard everyone was going during his set, it being the last day and all. After that, I made my way to meet my friends at our meeting spot and happened to catch a small portion of Justin Martin’s set as I was passing by at around 3:50 a.m., the song that I heard that made me stop and dance was “Lezgo ” by Ardalan and Justin Martin himself.
The last set I saw that night at around 4 a.m. was Dash Berlin, who, if it wasn’t for my friends, I would have never seen, since I’m not really into trance very much, but to my surprise, they barely dropped any trance—they were so incredible! The only song I recognized from their set was “What are You Waiting For” by Max Vangelli. They honestly impressed me with how diverse their music selection was. They had a great set!
I honestly wish I could go into deeper detail about all the sets, production and elaborate costumes I saw this weekend at EDC, but alas, that would take forever. If you’ve never been to Insomniac’s Electric Daisy Carnival before, I seriously advise you start saving up, but till then, all the sets are available online, so I suggest you find a nice pair of headphones or an amazing sound system; turn down the lights, close your eyes and start planning, because after that, I’m sure I’ll be seeing you next year.
Electric Daisy Carnival lit up Vegas for fun costumes and epic DJ sets. Photo: Eric Kabik