All that being said, none of the stages made for as grand a tribute to the glory of contemporary electronic music culture as KineticTEMPLE. Insomniac’s production team spared no expense in creating a vibrant centerpiece to EDC’s 20th anniversary gathering, equipping it with 1,400 light fixtures, 26 lasers, 33 flame units and more than 800 LED panels. Massively popular artists like Jauz, Hardwell, Seven Lions, Oliver Heldens, The Chainsmokers, Carnage Tiesto and DJ Snake got to perform in front of an audience of up to 70,000, in addition to ceremonies and firework shows that dazzled all in attendance.
As breathtaking as every larger-than-life crescendo may have been, though, what truly sets the Electric Daisy Carnival series apart in an ever-growing festival market is the finite touches. In addition to the stages, the Wideawake, Boombox and Calliope ARTCARs roamed around the festival grounds, providing even more musical options for attendees curious enough to stop and listen – such as a driving techno set from the originator of the term PLUR himself, Frankie Bones. An array of spotlights around the perimeter of the racetrack create patterns up above, so that even the sky itself looks like part of the mystical fairy tale land that is the festival.
Perhaps most importantly, the loving and accepting ethos instilled into the gathering’s culture by Insomniac Events Founder and CEO Pasquale Rotella was exemplified in the demeanor of the vast majority of attendees themselves – a feat that no other festival of EDC’s size has accomplished.
Of course, that’s not to say that it happened by accident, either. When Rotella started Insomniac as a warehouse party series in 1993, it’s hard to imagine that he ever expected his brand to reach such staggering heights. As we’ve gone over before, the Electric Daisy Carnival brand itself was originally conceived by now-HARD founder Gary Richards and Stephen Enos A.K.A. Steve Kool-Aid. The early ‘90s rave took place in Los Angeles’ infamous Crenshaw district, and had two rooms: One for open format DJ’ing, and another for electronic music.
After Rotella saw moderate success with his Nocturnal Wonderland massives, he asked permission from Richards and Enos to use “Electric Daisy Carnival” as the name for an upcoming event on which he would collaborate alongside other promoters in 1997. It would take the better part of a decade for EDC to eclipse Nocturnal and become Insomniac’s flagship festival – and as the EDM movement became the soundtrack of a generation over the years that followed, it would grow so enormous that no other electronic music event in North America could compete with it.
However, many of the developments of the past few years have foreshadowed an uncertain future for dance music. Now that this year’s IMS Business Report has come out, it’s almost certain that the EDM bubble has burst – due in no small part to Robert F.X. Sillerman’s well-chronicled mismanagement of electronic music conglomerate SFX Entertainment. In addition, the community has been as fragmented as ever, contrasting with the utopian ideals on which it was founded.
Rotella has by no means been exempt from such controversies. Richards and Enos issued a trademark suit against Rotella last year that remains in limbo until the hearing takes place, and Rotella came close enough to entering an agreement with Sillerman that he’s still got a tell-all about his dealings co-written by Thomas Kelley on the back burner. When he makes appearances at his events he looks noticeably wearier than he did in press photos from only a few years ago, which gives his supporters reason to worry that one of the North American rave scene’s last great holdouts might begin to fade away.
If anyone indeed questioned whether or not this musical movement still had life in it yet, however, they needed to look no further than EDC 20. Even amid all the uncertainty plaguing dance music in 2016, the landmark edition of the biggest rave in North America not only measured up to previous editions – it plainly and simply surpassed them.
Where Dash Berlin played the sunrise set on Day 3 of the past three installments of EDC Las Vegas, Galantis contributed the final performance of Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas last weekend. Blue skies began to stretch out from behind the KineticTEMPLE stage, and the crowd reluctantly began the trek out of the Speedway and back into day-to-day life. After what they had experienced over the past few days, though, they knew they would have plenty more opportunities to return to where their home is under the electric sky.