The stars shone in the sky and his eyes alike.
David Guetta recalls that night as if were last night. “I remember everything it about,” the superstar DJ-producer says. “No, really.”
June 25, 2011.
It was the first night of Electric Daisy Carnival’s first time in Las Vegas. Guetta, one of EDM’s biggest acts then and now, was there.
“I do many shows, so I don’t remember all of them, but this one was very, very special,” the 51-year-old Parisian says. “I remember the feeling of being completely blown away by the energy and the size of the event. I remember hitting some golf cart and going on a race with my friends. We had a lot of fun at that show.”
It’s been eight years, but Guetta is finally making his EDC return this weekend, one of more than 250 acts soundtracking the dusk-till-dawn electronic dance music fantasia to the delight of more than 450,000 smiley faces at Las Vegas Motor Speedway over three days.
Guetta says that this time of year captures him in peak form.
“I create a completely new set for summertime,” he says. “When it’s October, November, people still want to hear what they were hearing during the holidays, so you can still play the same type of music. Then, for the Ultra (Music Festival in Miami) in March, I’ve got to do something completely new from scratch. This is going to be the foundation for what I’m going to do in Vegas.
“The cycle during the year is that I create a totally new set, and then every time I play, I tweak it until it’s perfect,” he continues. “So, right now, it’s going to be beautiful at EDC, because the set has been perfected. I’ve tried different combinations and know the ones that are working really well. For the people, it’s the best result.”
Guetta’s return to EDC is a timely one: 2019 marks the 10-year anniversary of “One Love,” his breakout fourth record. It remains one of EDM’s biggest, most influential crossover hits, taking the music to the pop charts, where it’s been ever since, via smash singles such as “Who’s That Chick?” with Rihanna and particularly “When Loves Takes Over” with Kelly Rowland, which Billboard magazine has branded the No. 1 dance-pop collaboration of all time.
“That’s one of the biggest prides of my life, that I played an important role in that and have an influence on music. That’s every producer’s dream,” Guetta says. “But I want to keep doing this, and I think we’re at a very interesting moment now because there’s been a domination since those years, a saturation with EDM and then a domination of hip-hop in reaction.
“I think this is going to happen again,” he adds, “because there’s so much hip-hop right now that it’s to the point of creating a reaction. It’s usually like this with music. There are cycles. We can already see it with Billie Eilish being so successful. It might be the beginning of a new cycle again.”
A new cycle demands new tunes, which Guetta says he’ll deliver at EDC.
Plenty has changed since he last played the festival.
But what Guetta appreciates the most is what hasn’t changed.
“There’s something very unique about EDC for sure. It still has this kind of rave feel, you know?” Guetta says. “Festivals are more and more organized and professional and there’s more and more crossover, but everybody has a heritage, and it feels like the heritage of EDC is rave. I like that.”
Guetta’s return to EDC will be among the weekend’s top 10 appearances not to miss. The others:
Because EDC is as notoriously short on visual ostentation as Taco Bell is on heartburn and regret, Deadmaus will bring his “Matrix”-worthy “Cube 3.0” stage design to his first appearance at EDC Las Vegas.
At long last, bow ties come to EDC as everyone’s favorite science guy leads this year’s opening ceremonies. Or, maybe Nye will take a cue from his surroundings and rock a “Sun’s Out, Guns Out” tank top instead.
Last year it was Post Malone, this time it’s Asap Rocky serving as EDC’s leading hip-hop outlier. Not recommended if being engulfed in a crowd of 30,000 or so people makes you claustrophobic.
Solardo B2B Idris Elba
Finally, the traditionally staid, chaste, plain-Jane EDC gets an infusion of sex appeal when People magazine’s 2018 “Sexiest Man Alive” hits the decks with British production duo Solardo.
Claude VonStroke and Green Velvet team up in this tech house duo. For Real, dude.
Rusko B2B Skream
After returning from dubstep in 2013, Skream goes back to his roots with a sure-to-be-pummeling old-school set with fellow bass fetishist Rusko. Wear a neck brace.
Former phantom DJ-producer Zhu makes his EDC debut via his dark techno alter ego Blacklizt. No smiling!
You’ll seldom see this Italian house mainstay without a passport and a TSA pat-down. He makes a rare stateside appearance at EDC.
Likewise, you could always travel to this Dutch-expat’s current Australian stomping grounds, but that’s a 17-hour flight from here. Hey, you’ll only have to wait half that long in EDC traffic.
What: Electric Daisy Carnival
When: 7 p.m. Friday-Sunday
Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 7000 Las Vegas Blvd. North
Tickets: $379 and up for three-day pass (lasvegas.electricdaisycarnival.com)