For a moment, his eyes get nearly as big as the stage he’s describing.
Pasquale Rotella’s sitting in a small meeting spot, his attire as dark as the skies on this rainy morning.
His spirits, far brighter, counter the gloom.
The founder of Insomniac Events, which puts on the Super Bowl of electronic dance music, Electric Daisy Carnival, each June at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Rotella’s dropped by to share some of the first details of this year’s event.
“I was just in a meeting yesterday getting the final details for the Kinetic Field, which is one of the largest stages of the show,” he says. “It’s a completely new stage and we’re doing something that we’ve never done before. But I like to leave it a surprise. I want people to have that ‘wow’ moment when they walk in.”
Rotella does reveal the concept of the stage in question, which will be themed around Gaia, the goddess of the Earth in Greek mythology.
Many more new developments are planned for EDC 2017, including an added stage that will cater to a specific, yet-to-be-revealed style of music.
“There’s a genre of music that’s really grown a lot in the States in the past couple of years and we’re going to build a whole new stage,” the 42-year-old Rotella says. “We’re moving some stages around, and that’s going to add some extra flavor to the experience as well. I want it to be a different place every year. We get a lot of people who’ve been coming for 10 years plus, and in order to keep their interest, we really have to change things up a lot.”
In addition to the extra stage and altered footprint for the fest, Rotella says that this year’s EDC will also feature an influx of artists who will be new to the event, which came to Vegas in 2011 after debuting in the L.A.-area in the early ’90s and now features well over 100 performers each time out.
“We have artists that we’ve never, never had before,” he says of the lineup, which has traditionally been announced in the late spring.
“The music is 99 percent done,” Rotella adds. “We’re further along on a lineup than we’ve ever been this far in advance.”
Attendance-wise, EDC has grown every year, drawing a high of more than 400,000 fans in 2016, which Rotella says will be the ceiling for now.
“I wouldn’t add more capacity, even though we do have the room on site per fire code and all that kind of stuff; it’s the in-and-out that I wouldn’t want to put more pressure on,” he explains.
With the festival growing to the extent that it has, might EDC someday pull a Coachella and expand to two consecutive weekends?
“I’ve thought about it,” Rotella says. “I’ve considered lowering the capacity to do two weekends, to alleviate some of the traffic challenges. I’ve also considered keeping it on one weekend but changing the time of year so that we can do camping, kind of like they do at NASCAR, so that there’s not this influx each night. It’s been considered.”
Rotella recalls some wariness among local officials when he first began planning to bring EDC here. Now, Vegas is synonymous with EDM culture, from EDC to the Strip, where just about all the big-name DJs have a residency.
Along the way, EDC has become an international brand, expanding to Brazil, India, Mexico and the U.K., with its Japanese debut scheduled for April.
The Vegas event, though, remains the EDC flagship, the party of all parties.
“Vegas is Insomniac’s New Year’s Eve,” Rotella says. “It’s what sparked everything that’s going on now for dance music. EDC Las Vegas has been in the middle of all that. It’s home.”
Read more from Jason Bracelin at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at email@example.com and follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.