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‘Brace yourself’: The Electric Daisy Carnival is back with free love and lots of bass — PHOTOS

Updated May 18, 2024 - 9:21 am

The rainbow people have arrived early, their clothing bright as traffic cones, bright as the sun still hovering above.

There must be 30,000 to 40,000 of them here already with their bedazzled fanny packs and bedazzled beards gleaming in the daylight, most everyone looking as if they were sired by a disco ball.

It’s a bit past 6 p.m., and the stands and infield of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway are packed, a traffic jam of humanity that rivals the gridlock on the I-15 outside, as the Electric Daisy Carnival is less than an hour away from opening fully.

The party has already started, though, as evidenced by all the inflatable sheep and dinosaurs being pumped in the air in rhythm with beats that resound like thunderclaps from a pair of stages.

At 7 p.m. sharp, pyro bursts into the sky and the year-long wait for the return of the world’s largest dance music festival dissipates as swiftly as the yellow, pink and orange smoke discharged into the evening breeze by said fireworks.

“Welcome to EDC!” someone bellows as the crowd surges forth onto the festival grounds like kids let loose on an Easter egg hunt, prowling for kandi — the beaded rave-wear — in place of candy.

Amid this throng, an EDC Moses sporting steam punk shades and a small rubber ducky in his hair wields two homemade tablets listing the festival’s 10 commandments.

Among them: “Love one another;” “Leave negativity at home;” “Don’t steal cell phones.”

The sixth commandment is perhaps the most crucial, even if it’s the one that will likely be the least heeded over the next two days.

“Pace yourself.”

‘Seize the Daisy’

“Go see Tony over there in the silver pants if you’re interested in getting your free love.”

So says the lady in the sparkling dress, an unofficial marriage officiant who delivers both a quote for the ages and non-binding wedding vows to party-goers, their make-believe matrimony sealed with the exchange of ring pops in Downtown EDC.

In addition to those looking to get pretend-hitched to a buddy, there’s a little something for everybody here — including cowboys, at long last: a new addition to the fest is the country-centric YeEDC Saloon, where the sounds of Nashville blare and the walls are lined with portraits of horses in daisy-adorned cowboy hats and signs that command visitors to “Seize the Daisy.”

There’s a state fair’s worth of carnival rides to queue up for, although, really, the bumper cars seem anticlimactic after all the inadvertent crashing into strangers you’ll do, which is just an unavoidable part of attempting to navigate the jam-packed EDC grounds that’ll teem with over 520,000 attendees this year.

At seemingly every turn, you’re confronted with increasingly difficult decisions: Should I get an air-brushed tattoo of a large cup of iced coffee at House of Dunkin,’ or stroll amid the luminescent flora of the Daisy Fields, whose entrance is topped with six plumage-adorned dancers in bird cages?

What unites all these disparate attractions is scale: everything here feels massive — from the three-story high, flame-spewing sculptures to stages the size of football fields to the Art Together Portal, a trio of gigantic, L.E.D.-enhanced steel rings that enjoin passersby to “Love and care for each other.” The magnitude is deliberate: Above all else, the whole point of EDC is to provide a big, loud, glowing conduit for adults to tap back into the child-like sense of wonder that defines adolescence.

And what better way to do so than with one outsized spectacle after the next, each one dwarfing you like a colossus does a kid?

‘Brace yourself’

It sounds kind of like a drunk, argumentative robot couple exchanging unpleasantries in public.

That’s what the harsh, metallic clamor of Jessica Audiffred’s set at the BassPod brings to mind — you know, in a good way.

Not be outdone on the same stage later, Nghtmre comes with some full-contact dubstep delivered with the physicality of a deep-tissue massage — if performed by a masseuse with monkey wrenches for fingers.

If everything here was tailored to be larger-than-life, the same could said of the sounds, from Maddix’s relentlessly hard techno on the KineticField to the non-stop bass cannon that was LSDream’s CosmicMeadow performance to Carl Cox’s long-awaited EDC return after nine years at the NeonGarden, his set somehow cinematic, hypnotic and concussive all at once, to David Guetta inciting one sing-a-long after the next at the KineticField, his dancefloor confections going down like mouthfuls of cotton candy.

And then were was Subtronics, who meted out cinder-block chunky beats at the KineticField.

“Brace yourself,” he instructed at the beginning of his set.

You hear that EDC Moses?

Sounds like commandment 11 to us.

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @jbracelin76 on Instagram

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