It was a festival for the ages since EDC returned triumphantly to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway after almost two and a half years. Aside from the return of the event itself, there were many milestones to celebrate. This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Electric Daisy Carnival and the 10th anniversary of the festival's move to Vegas. Insomniac not only delivered as usual with terrific production, flawless planning and a totally stacked line-up. They also made the speedway feel more comfortable and familiar than ever, more than any other year I felt at home at EDC.
Although this year's EDC was a milestone and Insomniac managed to expand the festival presence even further, this year's festival felt very much like comfort food to me. If you've been to the festival you know what I'm talking about. It's literally just a warm, fuzzy feeling as you cross the speedway, a million LED lights illuminate the night sky. If you've never been there, it's hard to describe how amazed you feel at EDC. EDC is a fascinating world more than any other festival you will visit. But if you didn't make it, we'll do our best to let you know what you were missing out on.
My friends and I got off the strip early enough on Friday night. There was traffic, which was to be expected, but overall getting into Premier Parking was relatively easy. We ended up walking through the gates around 9:00 p.m., just in time to go to Kinetic Field to catch it Nicky Romeros set. Kinetic Field is the main stage, of course, and its design and theme change every year. This year's theme was kineticZen. On the stage was a massive owl in the center of the stage with its wings wrapped in a circle around the main LED display. It was the first time since 2015's The Crystal Village that the owl was in the spotlight (literally), which also featured a massive owl head with eyes that looked all over the dance floor. The pyro and lasers were exceptional this year, the fountains added a nice touch too.
One of the most amazing features of EDC is always night fireworks. After more than two years of absence, the day 1 fireworks were a sight for sore eyes. I saw the show on the Kinetic Field dance floor and it was really impressive to see the spectacle play out across the electric sky. But that wasn't all, if you were at Kinetic Field you were also treated to a very special drone show. Drones formed formations of the EDC logo along with a 25th anniversary commemoration. Most impressively, the drones formed the shape of the owl that adorns the stage. It was really impressive and a memory that I will surely remember.
As for the music, it was an all-star cast at Kinetic Field, which is where I spent most of the night. Nicky Romero published his festival-ready Progressive House as well as classic EDM anthems such as "I Could Be the One" and "Toulouse". I couldn't think of a better way to open the weekend. All luxury followed by an adorable set that released an impressive selection, or adaptations, of some of today's greatest hits. Don Diablo was next up and he kept the vibe going with a healthy mix of house bangs and his signature future house sound, including sweeping drops from "Momentum" and "Anthem".
After that, my most anticipated act of the evening, the Chain smoker took the stage. Alex and Drew brought all the energy with them as they dropped all of their hits and tried every dance genre from house to psy-trance. I sang my heart out to songs like "Takeaway", "Don’t Let Me Down" and "Paris". But on top of that, they finished their set with their first new song since 2019. It was a vibey too, but new chainsmokers were definitely a highlight. Thereafter, Alesso took the stage and he threw the kitchen sink into the crowd. He threw some newer house jams like “Together”, “Progresso” and “It Gets Better” on the Swedish House Mafia before moving on to his big festival classics like “Under Control” and “Calling (Lose My Mind)”. Then we made a quick detour to Circuit Grounds to see some of them Excisions set. The mood was completely different from stage to stage. Despite the size of EDC, it's the perfect festival to dig and plant on a stage for most of the night. Whatever your mood, you will find it.
Moving on to Day 2 which was still magical but also had a few hiccups that need to be fixed. My friends and I headed out in the early afternoon hoping to catch some of the opening ceremony at Cosmic Meadow. Although we had a premiere parking lot and arrived around 6:15 a.m., we waited in line with many other guests until the gates opened at 7:00 p.m. What happened? How come there weren't any signs directing guests to the correct entrance? All of them came early for a reason, obviously, I'm just confused that people who arrived early weren't directed to the correct entrance for the opening ceremony. Definitely a Snafu from Insomniac.
Once inside, I spent most of the night on the Circuit Grounds. The stage design was pretty much the same as in previous years. Solid rectangular LEDs surround the dance floor in a 360-degree square. Circuit Grounds is my personal favorite stage as this is where the main stage talents bring their own personalized imagery to a more intimate setting. Future Bass was there in full ARMNHMR was the first act I caught. It was a nice mix of feeling and heaviness to get the night off to a real start. Thereafter, Benny Benassi taken over, and here the lineup is full to the brim. The legendary Italian house DJ played to a crowded audience that ate his vintage tech house hits and a few festival hits, including the Skrillex remix of "Cinema".
Oliver Heldens was next, and he dropped all of his crackers. From old school hits like "Koala", "The Right Song" and "You Know" to newer hits like "Turn Me On" and his remix of "Another Chance", Oliver animated the crowd while promoting his signature Oliver Hero sound retained. This set was a delight. Thereafter, Defamation took the stage and there was equal parts head banging and crying. The audience was super energetic, my neck hurt and I wasn't even walking that hard. Favorite moments had to be when they dropped “Feeling Good” and “Love is Gone”. After that, it was time for Martin garrix. It's been a long time since the Dutch megastar took the stage here in the US and brought everything with him, including at least a couple of new IDs. But like at the festival itself, Martin played his biggest hits. He opened his set with what appeared to be a new ID with John Martin. After that it was all of Martins Bangers, "Like I Do", "Backlash", "Virus", "Mistaken". He also brought out Maejor for an AREA21 medley. In addition, the stage production was on a different level. Lasers are firing everywhere, smoke fills the arena, every color you can imagine.
Do you remember how I said the fireworks on Friday night were impressive? They were still great on Saturday, but this time I watched them while waiting in line for the toilet at the Circuit Grounds. This isn't necessarily Insomniac's fault, but they had some problems with the plumbing in the VIP toilets on the Circuit Grounds, and it wasn't very VIP. The men's lines weren't nearly as long as the women's, but it was wet waiting in line and it kind of smelled of the Circuit Grounds VIP. Again, not necessarily Insomniac's fault, but it was definitely a problem.
Anyway smells aside deadmau5 played the Circuit Grounds stage next, and he threw a set down for the ages. He threw down all of his old school hits like "Ghosts N Stuff", "4 × 4 = 12" and "Strobe" and his newer stuff like "When the Summer Dies", "Monophobia" and "Bridged by a Lightwave" . “Besides, Joel was in the mood; When he finished his set, he introduced himself Jauz as DJ Steve, and he ranted about how they went to DJ school together. Jauz, always the good spirit, went with us and introduced himself to the crowd as DJ Steve (he's Sam). From there, Jauz threw down a fiery bass house set that once again brought the entire visual spectacle of Circuit Grounds to life. After that I went back to Kinetic Field for KSHMR. Similar to deadmau5, KSHMR dug deep into its song catalog from classics like "Neverland", "Wildcard" and "Karate" to newer hits like "Winner’s Anthem" and "Midnight Lion Walk". He also paid homage to his roots with the Cataracts by playing the 2010 classic "Like a G6".
After two exhausting days, we fell back on Sunday evening and arrived around 9:00 a.m. without reaching anything special. The perfect opportunity to explore the festival. This year I've done something I've never done before at EDC, seeing full sets on Basspod and Wasteland. We have opened the night catch JoyrydeIt's "All D’n’B Set" at Basspod. Once again I was surprised at how different the mood and audience were on Basspod compared to Kinetic Field. It's day and night and if your heart desires, you can stay in the bass pod all weekend and have a great time. Joyrydes D’n’B vibes were the perfect start to the last night of the weekend. We caught a bit Purple disco machine at Kinetic (and it was a mood!) Because Tweekaz. Once again, I'd never caught a full set at Wasteland, but it was worth trying out. Da Tweekaz threw down a killer set, the audience was full and like Basspod, the sound of Wasteland hits.
After that I went to Circuit Grounds for Eric Prydz. He might have had the set of the weekend, incredible progressive house tunes, EDM classics, incredible visuals, lasers, fireworks; everything EDC is about. Eric dropped “Pjanoo”, “The Arrival”, “Rebel XX”, “Everyday” and “Opus”. In combination with the world class look and the lighters this was an unsurpassed set. In addition, “Opus” is also the perfect song for a fireworks display. From there I made my way to Cosmic Meadow for my first set of the weekend there, Zedd. I never thought I'd write that one day, but the crowd for Zedd was fucking loud! It was filled to the brim at Cosmic Meadow when Zedd knocked down an epic but well-known string of hits like "I Want You to Know", "Beautiful Now", "Clarity" and his adaptation of "One More Time". Zedd also mixed some house tracks and, oh yeah, he put out Martin Garrix and they put out "Tremor". What a dream come true, now all they have to do is do one song together.
I can't say more about the festival. It was a truly magical weekend; It was a special feeling to be back on the speedway. Another sign of normalcy is that EDC will return to its regular weekend in May 2022. It took longer than normal, but it was another incredible weekend under the electric sky. As EDC always shows, the magic and memories will go on. For another 25 years under the electric sky!
Featured image via Taylor Wallace for Insomniac Events