They took the stage at 4:30 a.m. on a Monday, their arrival announced by the stomp and blare of a full marching band and the hurling of a massive inflatable banana the size of a Volvo into the crowd.
It was the last day of the Electric Daisy Carnival debut in Las Vegas in June 2011 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which had been transformed into a pulsating orb of light and sound with a population of 100,000 strong.
The party was coming to an end, begrudgingly, when Swedish electro house duo Dada Life began the final set of the weekend on the Neon Garden Stage.
By this point, the 10,000-or-so revellers who had come to see the two had been up on their feet, immersed in this adult amusement park, from dusk ’til dawn for the better part of three days.
Fatigue was manifesting itself in calves that throbbed like the blasts of bass thundering though a sound system that could drown out a dozen air raid sirens screeching in unison.
But Dada Life elicited a final burst of energy, like the sudden jolt of adrenaline that invigorates a long-distance runner when the finish line finally comes into view.
It was some serious fun from this not-so-serious pair of party-hard Swedes, who swigged Champagne and bounced around the stage as haphazardly as the blow-up Champagne bottles the crowd batted into the air.
Soon, dawn would break.
“I remember the sun coming up,” says Dada Life DJ-producer Stefan Engblom, the memory animating his voice. “It was truly amazing.”
Since then, Dada Life has been on a quest to one-up themselves at each successive EDC appearance, always trying to take things another step beyond plausibility, much like the festival itself.
With EDC back this weekend, so is Dada Life.
“We spend the year thinking, ‘What are we going to do this time?’ ” Engblom says. “It puts a big smile on our faces when we do EDC. We always say that EDC Las Vegas is the best festival in the world. There’s so much stuff you can do. The vibe is just perfect.”
Engblom’s hardly alone in thinking as much.
“We’ve played so many festivals at this point, so a lot of them feel like just another festival. But there was something really magical about EDC,” says Yasmine Yousaf of Chicago electronic dance music trio Krewella, who played EDC Vegas for the first time last year. “It felt like Disneyland for ages 18 and up. It had this nostalgic feel. There were no bad vibes. Everybody was smiling.”
There will likely be even more smiles at EDC this year, as the event’s capacity has been boosted to 135,000 people a night, an increase of close to 20,000 attendees daily.
Even so, EDC still sold out completely months in advance, before any of its 182 performers were announced.
The reason for this is simple: The EDC experience, especially the crowd itself, is as much of a draw as any of the acts.
It’s a grown-up event, but the whole weekend pulses with a childlike whimsy and suspension of disbelief.
Dada Life certainly does their part to cultivate this anything-goes atmosphere.
“People can feel like they’re stepping into Dada Land and do whatever and not be embarrassed by anything,” Engblom says. “If you want to come dressed like a banana, it doesn’t matter. Nobody cares. Don’t think too much. Just have fun.”
Now that’s some sage advice.
To ensure that you don’t make the profound mistake of overthinking the Electric Daisy Carnival festivities, here’s a quick primer of EDC 2014:
Five first-time EDC performers not to miss
4. Ummet Ozcan
3. Martin Garrix
1. New World Punx
Five returning performers not to miss
5. Knife Party
4. Dada Life
2. Carl Cox &Friends
1. Armin Van Buuren
Five things to bring to EDC
5. Refillable water bottle
4. Wet naps
3. Something neon colored
2. Sunglasses (for the morning after)
1. A banana costume
Five things not to bring
3. Your kid sister
2. Combat boots
1. Anything that looks like it could be snorted or smoked
Five things you have to do at least once
5. Lay in the grass at the Cosmic Meadow Stage.
4. Have your picture taken beneath one of the flame-shooting art installation pieces.
3. Make out atop the Ferris wheel.
2. Follow the roving pirate party ship through the festival grounds.
1. Remember where you parked.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.