Updated May 21, 2023 - 9:27 am
It all begins with a hot and throaty echo chamber of woo-hoos!
It’s 6:30 p.m., and the main concourse of Las Vegas Motor Speedway reverberates with voices, spirits and inflatable cows raised in unison.
It sounds like Christmas morning feels — back when you still believed in Santa.
As the tens of thousands of early arrivers flocked into the Electric Daisy Carnival on Friday evening, the vibe at the world’s biggest electronic dance music gathering is that of a bunch of kids running down the stairs to see what St. Nick brought them. (Under the tree this year: lots of lights, bass and fire. Also, G-strings.)
Twenty minutes later, the air’s already scented with a sulfuric tang as pyrotechnics rocket from the CosmicMeadow stage, puffing green, blue and red smoke into the overcast sky — a sky which would later bring brief rains.
Look around, the fast-massing crowd here is akin to a toddler’s finger painting — all the colors, everywhere, splashed together with gleeful abandon.
Important questions are asked.
“Is that dopamine or serotonin?” a woman wonders of a totem designed like a chemical formula. (Turns out it was the former. We think.)
Puzzling exclamatory statements are made.
“Everybody forgets I’m the Carolina genie, damn it!” a fellow bellows, apropos of who knows what?
At QuantumValley, a man wields a totem depicting Jack Skellington, the character from “A Nightmare Before Christmas.”
“Oh, I can’t believe my eyes,” it reads.
Jack is not alone.
All-you-can-eat buffet for the senses
Across the way from the Tokyo-style karaoke bar, amid countless revelers dressed like party-hard Marios and Luigis — easily the most popular costumes at EDC on Friday — some matrimony is going down.
“Marriage is a kick-ass holy union,” a magistrate in shiny robes explains at the Chapel of Technology as a couple gets married for real. (There will be more than 150 legal weddings here throughout the weekend).
If that’s a little too committal, nonbinding, not-so-real vows can be exchanged nearby.
“Here at EDC, we love together, we party together, but most of all, we overcome life’s obstacles together,” a “marriage” officiant in a gleaming silver suit tells a couple during one of said ceremonies.
Among those obstacles on this night?
Choosing what dish to feast upon at any given moment in this all-you-can-eat buffet for the senses.
There’s much to explore: the Pixel Forest, which is like strolling through the guts of a life-size Lite Brite toy, and the Empathy Revolution art installation piece, which is bookended by massive, two-story pyramids made of paint cans, where you’re supposed to leave an item at the foot of a made-from-hemp Golden Elephant of Love in order to get love transmuted back to you — take that, Tinder. And then there’s the Brass Ring, where aerialists bend themselves into uncomfortable shapes amid towers of flame that approximate the sensation of being a lit match.
Don’t forget to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Insomniac, the events company that puts on EDC, at the art cart shaped like a massive birthday cake, and your parents would rightfully disown you if you didn’t take a ride on the Wacky Worm roller coaster.
Also, there’s music.
Carnival of sound
Here’s an EDC first: a baby bump onstage.
Remarkably, superstar DJ-producer Allison Wonderland performed at KineticField nine months pregnant, where French DJ David Guetta then drew a crowd that rivaled the population of Boulder City.
Griz tooted his own horn, literally, at CosmicMeadow, playing sax while standing atop the DJ booth amid bass blasts suggestive of digital flatulence. He’d later be joined by a trumpeter and a trombonist at the lip of the stage for a quick jam session before getting back to weaponizing Fall Out Boy remixes with bone-abrading rhythms.
Long-running Israeli duo Infected Mushroom infused psychedelic trance with Middle Eastern musical accents at QuantumValley; Above &Beyond turned CircuitGrounds into one big communal bear hug during their set-ending hit “Moon and Sun.”
At the Wasteland stage, a woman in neon-green pigtails shadowboxed hard to Sound Rush, which was fitting, since the beats came at you like a prizefighter’s fists. When the duo took on Corona’s dance floor staple “The Rhythm of the Night,” it was as if the thing had been shot through a particle accelerator.
Might not have been the smartest move to immediately follow their performance with a trip to Basspod for Riot Ten b2b Jessica Audiffred.
“I want to see the biggest mosh eve-rrrr!” Audiffred enjoined as the two got to work, their concussive dubstep akin to getting caught in a thunderstorm with bowling balls in place of water droplets.
Taking in the two sets back-to-back was like willingly courting a musical blanket party.
But, as one totem noted, “Bad choices make good stories.”
Contact Jason Bracelin at email@example.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @jbracelin76 on Instagram.