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Electric Daisy Carnival goes all out for second fest

Ian “Pickles” Oosthuizen laughed at how small the drum kit looked on the biggest free-standing stage in North America.

“It’s tiny,” he said with a grin while standing in front of the gigantic structure whose massive proportions seemingly reduced the size of everything within the considerable shadow it cast on the grounds of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Dubbed the Kinetic Field, the stage is one of seven at the Electric Daisy Carnival, the three-day dance music festival that kicks off today.

Come sundown, up to 55,000 revelers will pack this area, just a corner of the EDC grounds, ringed by pulsating towers of light.

On Wednesday morning, the stage was buzzing with workers preparing it for the weekend, surrounded by a battery of cranes and other heavy equipment, semi-trucks and what looked like a full acre of Porta-Johns.

Nearby, a crew assembled a 50-foot-high, flame-spitting contraption called the Spire of Fire.

Oosthuizen, the art production coordinator for the EDC, marveled at how much fuel it burns per night, some 2,000 gallons of propane.

On the ground a few feet away, a huge metallic snake head the size of a Volkswagen Beetle waited to be attached to silver vertebrae to form an attraction called the Serpent Mother.

These are just a few of the many far-out flourishes in various states of construction spread out over 1,000 acres of the speedway grounds .

“The entire interior is being utilized,” said Erika Raney, communications director for Insomniac, the company that puts on EDC, during a tour of the sprawling site, which has the feel of a self-contained city, complete with its own medical staff and security force.

Since the Monday before last, workers have been building the EDC from 1 p.m. to 4 a.m. daily.

In its second Vegas incarnation, the event is expected to draw a bigger crowd this time, with a daily audience of 115,000 fans, up from 85,000 a night last year.

As such, its dimensions have grown.

“Last year was a lot more intimate. We didn’t know what to expect,” said Alyxzander Bear, director of production for the EDC. “We got a bigger crowd than we anticipated, but it was comfortable. This year, we knew we were going to do better.”

EDC organizers also had more time to plan the fest this time, which has led to an even more elaborate presentation.

“We put this event on in less than three months last year,” Bear said. “This usually takes a year-plus for most production companies. We learned a lot.”

Among the lessons was a need for more water, so there are 98 places to refill water bottles planned for this year’s EDC. Also, more space was needed in front of some stages, resulting in a shrinking of various production areas in order to accommodate more fans.

There is some carry-over from last year, such as the Red Bull Skydive Team, who will parachute down to EDC twice a night, and Fourth of July-worthy fireworks displays, as well as new additions such as the Q-dance Stage, which is designed to look like a knight, with gleaming, chrome-plated skulls and shiny sheets of metal that extend outward like talons.

There’s also more carnival rides, some 30 in all, enough to fill a theme park.

And that’s kind of what the EDC is, really, an adult Disneyland drawn from the overactive imagination of Insomniac head Pasquale Rotella.

“Pasquale builds this because he’s a 37-year-old kid,” Bear said. “He wants to make this the biggest playground in the world.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.

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