The Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas is an event that many ravers spend months upon months preparing, planning, and saving up for. Being the most anticipated event of the year, we carefully plan our creative and colorful costumes for each day of the weekend. We reserve our hotels and purchase our tickets 6 months in advance, and patiently wait until we can return to what many call “Home”. My initial visit was back in June, 2013 when the “Blue Owl” stage was initially introduced to kineticFIELD. Over the years, I have seen significant changes in stage development, increases in ticket sales, inconveniences, improvements, and plenty of instances that have left me baffled. This year marked my 5th year attending the Electric Daisy Carnival.
PAST EDC EXPERIENCES
When I attended my first EDC Las Vegas I had been dreaming of overlooking the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for years. Although, I had been to a handful of events such as Nocturnal and Escape from Wonderland, HARD Summer, HARD Day of the Dead, Crush, and Beyond Wonderland, I still considered myself a rookie. My first EDC was more intense than I expected it to be, especially being that it’s from dusk till dawn every day of the festival. I was lucky to have been with more experienced ravers that had previously attended EDC to show me the ropes.
Needless to say, when I finally arrived to the speedway I was amazed. It was one the most beautiful sights I had seen in my life. kineticFIELD brought on the theme of the large blue owl which opened and closed it’s wings at the beginning and ending of every DJ’s set. neonGARDEN was not the large pyramid structure that we have seen over the past three years, and circuitGROUNDS was still a covered mega-structure.
That first year, I decided to try out the shuttle system. While everything was impeccable, this was one aspect I did not enjoy. The shuttles were completely unorganized, and the headliners had to wait over two hours in the Las Vegas heat to get on their shuttle. By the third day, we did not even bother with the shuttles anymore and decided to drive. The traffic was seemingly a breeze which made me question why I had even purchased the shuttle pass in the first place. I believe with the increase in popularity to attend EDC, every year the traffic has continued to get worse. As my first year in attendance came to a close, I was exhausted but ready for more.
As the years went on and I gained more experience raving, EDC (and Insomniac in general) changed in monumental ways. The stages got more creative, with the arrival of 2014’s Kinetic Cathedral, 2015’s Crystal Village, 2016‘s Kinetic Temple, and this year’s Gaia theme! Returning in 2017 as a more experienced raver with 6 years of events under my belt, I started this year’s adventure wondering what this year will have in store for me?
Let me start off by saying that making the trek out to Vegas was a mission. Not only did I have a final exam the morning of day one, but I also had to catch a flight from LAX to LAS, which I MISSED! After a tedious hour on standby, I boarded the following flight and was on my way. I arrived to Vegas at around 7pm. I opted to give the Shuttles another try as I had seen that the organization had improved with each passing year. One thing I did not take into account, was the time that I was heading out to the festival (it was about 7:30pm). It took approximately 3 hours to reach the festival. Yet again, the shuttles were an absolute mess. They were extremely over sold, and there were so many ravers boarding the shuttles that did not have a pass. The lines alone made for an exhausting 2 and a 1/2 hour wait in line. Despite my experience with the shuttles, I was determined to have an amazing first night.
My evening started off exploring the various artCARS that were roaming the venue. Each colorful and unique in their own way. After familiarizing myself with the map and locations of stages, free water stations, and vendor areas, I made way to kineticFIELD to enjoy sets from Martin Garrix, Armin Van Buuren, and caught a part of Hardwell's set before switching gears and going to my favorite stage, quantumVALLEY hosted by Dreamstate. I especially enjoyed sets from Freedom Fighters and Sean Tyas.
Video taken by another Headliner
The first night of my story does not simply end with a fabulous evening of enjoying my favorite music. This is going to one of the various conundrums that I saw while exploring the venue, but let me start off by saying: Vegas, you are WILD! I know everyone is out here to have a good time, but we all definitely need to know our limits. When you see a raver walking around butt naked, hissing at workers, dancing on top of port-o-potties and diving into the concrete as if they were about to go into a pool, you know you’ve seen it all. In all my years of attending EDC Las Vegas, I have never seen so many headliners walking around butt naked. Who knows... maybe they just wanted to feel the breeze? While everything is all in good and fun, keep in mind that these type of actions will get you kicked out of the festival or worse, so please party safe!
With night one in the books, I was more than ready to start day two and arrive WAY earlier than I did the previous day. Night two of EDC in my experience always goes the hardest and most of my favorite DJ's are usually playing. I decided to not take the shuttle on the way there, and it turned out to be the best decision I could have made. There was news of shuttles being shut down for over an hour without any leaving to venue. With an ever increasing line, it turned out to be a mad-house. As a result of leaving early with my friends in their car, we arrived within 24 minutes of leaving strip. It definitely seems to have been a complicated year for the shuttles as the organization seems to have backtracked from recent years.
We made it to the venue just after the doors had opened, and were off to a positive start. I also had the pleasure of enjoying my friends wedding ceremony at the venue. I had always heard of ravers getting married, but had never had any people I knew actually plan their wedding there. It was a beautiful ceremony full of lights, love, and just the right twist of EDC fun and uniqueness. As I moved forward with my night, my group and I headed over to watch Laidback Luke and KYGO’s set at kineticFIELD. Leaving in the middle of KYGO's set I made my way over to circuitGROUNDS to see Duke Dumont, Alesso, and Above and Beyond. I was torn that Above and Beyond was at the exact same time as Dillon Francis, so I made time toward the end to catch part of his set. We took the time to re-group and decided to call it a night early (around 4am) since we were all so traumatized by the traffic and shuttle situation from the previous day. Many ravers said that they waited over an hour to board the shuttle, and another 45 minutes to arrive to their hotels. Others had to deal with the treacherous journey of leaving the EDC parking lot. Though I heard many left around 4:30am, they were still caught in bumper to bumper traffic until 7am. So what really is the proper way to go? Shuttle? or Car? And when is the best time to leave the venue without missing out on your favorite closing sets? This is one issue that Insomniac needs to improve.
All good things must come to an end. As the final day of the festival came, there were many mixed emotions. Many ravers were tired, some even decided to sell the final day passes since they had to work Monday or just couldn't handle the intensity of a three day festival. Then, there were the warriors that decided to end the weekend with a bang, going harder than ever! My rave family and I once again left early to festival, arriving without any major traffic issues to delay our entrance. We had an interesting time watching the downfall of DJ Khaled as he was getting boo’d off stage (Honestly, I’m not even sure why we were even there).
Video taken by another Headliner
My friends also knew a little secret, and that was that Kaskade would be playing a sunrise set at the Kalliope artCAR. Despite having to do A LOT of walking to even find where Kaskade was playing in the venue. We ended up finding his set and enjoyed it for about 45 minutes before heading off to see Vini Vici, who I was most excited to see. He has has quickly become one of the top DJ's on my list. This was hands down my favorite set of the entire weekend. Though my friends and I were exhausted, Vini Vici brought us back to life in that final hour, and we danced harder than we ever did.
EDC has changed in so many ways over the past 5 years. I found this year was odd only in the sense that it did not sell out. Something I have not seen happen in years. I am not sure if Insomniac increased this year’s capacity, or perhaps the festival has simply gotten too expensive. In 2013 I remember there was a special ticketing price for headliners who purchased as early as November. Tier 1 GA starting at $199 and tier 2 $259. Comparing to today’s whopping $436, it has gone up a couple hundred dollars in the past few years.
In my opinion, it is worth the money because the production is always incredible. However, I found that the “Premier Parking Pass” and “Shuttle Pass” prices are absolutely ridiculous for the benefits received. If headliners are paying $114 for transport to the venue and free loaders are mooching off the shuttle services because the workers are not checking passes, it is not worth the wait. I also heard from friends who had purchased premier parking that they still waited 2-3 hours to even get out of the parking lot. These are huge issues that Insomniac needs to resolve for the safety of it’s headliners, and efficiency. Thousands of ravers were stranded for hours in the parking lot/shuttle lines without access to water and in intense heat. It’s a problem that has been on going and seemingly getting worse each year.
Despite the downside of the awful parking and transportation situation, EDC always holds a special place in my heart. I am always excited to see what the next year has to bring and how it will continue to evolve, grow, and improve. Overall, this year was hands down the best EDC I have experienced since 2014. The production was beautiful, I was surrounded by amazing friends, and I had a great laugh from all of the crazy things we saw. With a genuine love for the music and this rave community, I can’t wait for EDC Las Vegas in 2018.
How many EDC’s have YOU been to and what are your opinions on this year’s production? Will you be attending next year? Let me know in the comments below!