By Michael Blain
After nearly a year of anticipation, the Electric Daisy Carnival finally returned to desert soil, and I couldn’t have been any more excited to participate. This excitement would soon be converted to various reactions to chaos and disappointment, but we will take it one step at a time. On Friday, after leaving the house and making our way down the highway, it soon became apparent that I-15 North was going to be our enemy if we didn’t escape it soon enough, and we thought we had by getting off at Cheyenne and getting onto Las Vegas Boulevard. But soon enough, the traffic jams were engulfing every possible entrance to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and after hours of bumper-to-bumper crawling, we were finally ready to get in line. We got in rather smoothly and still in high spirits, despite missing several acts we were looking forward to seeing, and were posted up at the Circuit Grounds stage in time to see an act that has a very deep place in my heart: Gabriel & Dresden. They played one of the best sets I have ever seen in my life, and the truth of that remained steadfast throughout the weekend.
Friday was the lightest day in terms of heavy-hitting names on the line-up, so we more or less roamed around trying to get a feel for things until departing at the 5:30 a.m. gate closing time. It took us the better part of three hours to leave the Red Lot and get back on the highway, deleting any decent chance of a regulated sleeping schedule and not being rushed for the rest of the weekend.
On to Saturday, which included difficulties that definitely made Friday seem nearly perfect. It took several hours to get into the venue itself, which became very frustrating because we were missing Rank 1 perform live for the first time at a festival in the United States. We were trapped in traffic alongside the speedway. The view of the fireworks display from the car was a nice consolation, but not quite enough.
We parked in an employee lot that also had spots available to the public, which proved to be our best decision of the weekend for this and the next night. We got through the line, eagerly anticipating the set of Tiësto, who happened to be the long-time favorite DJ of two of the members of our group, myself included. We had been inside the venue for no longer than twenty minutes when commands began to resound over the loud speakers that due to high winds everyone must vacate all the stage areas for their own safety and head towards the grandstands. This process took hours and involved mass trickery on the part of the staff, even to the point of pretending to re-open the main areas to the elation of sprinting ravers not realizing they had been duped into exiting through the back parking lots. Tiësto, the greatest DJ of all time, did not play.
Sunday was a repeat of the traffic jams that had become a constant throughout the weekend, and the overall vibe of the event had suffered tremendously. A second set was added for the legendary Armin van Buuren on the Circuit Grounds trance stage at 10:45 p.m., and he took full advantage, playing one of the greatest hour-long trance sets I have ever seen. Later in the night, John Digweed showed the Electric Daisy Carnival how talented and professional a DJ can truly be by not playing a single commercial or known song as his experience rang through the souls of everyone present.
The way out on Sunday was utter chaos as cars sped past us into the oncoming traffic lane behind the speedway just to shave a few minutes off the trip, and even when a car came heading right towards them, they cut back into the proper lane and then did it again. Electric Daisy Carnival failed this year, plain and simple.