Electric Daisy Carnival rises anew

He branded his company Insomniac Events upon founding it two decades ago, and as of late, Pasquale Rotella has been taking its name literally.

“I couldn’t sleep this morning,” Rotella says, sounding more energized than fatigued. “I’m so excited.”

Rotella is amped about the return of Insomniac’s flagship event, the Electric Daisy Carnival, which engulfs Las Vegas Motor Speedway today through Sunday.

It’s the Mardi Gras of electronic dance music, a daze of days, with big-name DJs such as Tiesto, Calvin Harris, Avicii and more than 200 others performing in front of 115,000 revelers each night.

It’s a three-day, dusk-’til-dawn fever dream, illuminated by glowing amusement park rides, towering art installation pieces and a jubilant crowd, many of them outfitted in brightly colored costumes like anime characters come to life.

“It’s kind of like adult Disneyland. There’s nothing like this in the country,” says Rachel Miller, a film producer who is overseeing the production of a 3-D documentary on the Electric Daisy Carnival due in theaters next year. “I feel like it’s this generation’s Woodstock.”

EDC has become such a popular draw, that this year’s event sold out before even a single act was announced.

There are now multiple EDC festivals in various markets, such as Chicago and New York City, but Vegas is the biggest, most elaborate production.

“We have the budget to do things that we can’t do anywhere else,” Rotella says. “This is the most expensive show I’ve ever done in my life.”

Originally launched in Los Angeles in 1997, this is the third Vegas EDC. The event will have a new look this year.

“It’s a different layout,” Rotella says. “There’s stages in places that there weren’t before. We’ve opened up the entire speedway, which we’ve never done, to make it even more spacious.”

Last year, EDC experienced some growing pains, as a larger crowd translated to some serious traffic issues, with gridlock in and out of the event.

To help alleviate these concerns this time, Rotella says they’ve increased the amount of staff directing traffic and the number of lanes in the parking lot and gained the use of an access road that wasn’t open to them in the past.

In addition, there will be a dedicated lane for buses that Rotella says will transport 30,000 fans to and from the event per night.

“There is still going to be a wait in traffic a little bit. It’s just not going to be like it was last year,” he says. “It’s just a lot better organized.”

With traffic issues at EDC 2012 and high winds that cut short Saturday night’s show, there were two deaths associated with the event after a man died upon being struck by a truck while departing the fest and a young woman fell to her death from her hotel room at Circus Circus after possibly experiencing paranoid delusions after taking Ecstasy at EDC.

According to medical officials on hand at the event, however, such serious incidents have been limited.

“I’ve been very pleased,” says Las Vegas Regional Medical Director Dr. Dale Carrison, the track physician at EDC, noting they had to transport but 23 people out of the event for further medical care last year.

“It’s a mass gathering. Am I nervous? Am I worried? You bet I am because I don’t want anybody to have anything bad happen to them. But it’s the single best crowd that I’ve ever worked with.”

The makeup of this crowd has evolved considerably in recent years.

As dance music has continued to crossover into the mainstream, with DJ-producers working with pop stars and becoming popular enough attractions to fill arenas on their own, the music has broadened its audience significantly.

“There’s more people who are into it. With that comes different kinds of people,” Rotella says. “It’s still a culture, but you get this influx of people who don’t really get it, at times. But that’s exciting to me because those are the people who need exposure to this culture the most.”

The culture that Rotella speaks of has become an increasingly large part of Vegas, as the city has arguably become the dance music capital of America with a vibrant nightlife scene and a bevy of superstar DJ residencies.

As such, Rotella has imbedded himself here, buying a home and recently having his first child with high-profile Las Vegan Holly Madison.

He speaks of possibly expanding EDC to two weekends in the future with a week of events in between.

Despite the growing success of EDC, though, Rotella is dealing with some legal issues related to the event. He faces several charges dating to when EDC was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Rotella is accused of bribing L.A. city officials with funds from the Coliseum.

Still, he sounds optimistic about both his future and that of EDC.

“I’m feeling pretty damn good about things,” he says. “The process has been so slow in my growth, it’s been hard for me to say, ‘It’s happening.’ This is the first time where I’m really feeling like we’re touching on my dream. We’re doin’ it, man.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@
reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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