The Electric Sky Perfected: EDC Las Vegas 2018 Review
In my two years writing for EDMSauce (and nearing now ten years journalistic work) I have never been a victim writer's block…until now. From festival reviews, album reviews, artist interviews, and news related content, I have always been able to form a clear and concise opening for my pieces, until today. That is because a week ago, the most perfect, immaculate, pristine music festival I have ever partaken in took place— Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas. I have danced under the electric sky for five consecutive years and I cannot find the words to describe the incredible transformation this festival has gone through.
It's difficult to imagine that less than a year ago, Insomniac Events was plagued by not-so-great reviews their flagship festival, EDC Las Vegas. For the eighth consecutive year, EDC took place in Las Vegas after several years at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and other Southern California event venues. The thriving festival had plenty footprint to work with in Sin City, calling the 1,200 acre Las Vegas Motor Speedway home ( which they occupy 180 acres). However, an all-night party in the unrelenting Mojave Desert heat can (and will) take a toll on its attendees. Year after year, one the top complaints from festival goers was that unbearable 100+ degree heat resulting in many hospitalizations and even deaths. The growing number attendees meant more and more people requiring reliable transportation to the speedway, a 15-mile trek north the Las Vegas Strip, where most attendees book their weekend stay. The increase in vehicular traffic led to the now infamous stories last year's shuttle transportation disasters and the now meme-worthy photos lines cars waiting hours to exit the speedway at 7 a.m. every morning after the festival ends.
In response to the overwhelming complaints on social media, Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella promised big changes for their 2018 celebrations, some which included third-party pressional shuttle services, earlier opening ceremonies, an all-new camping experience, and the biggest change all, a change dates from mid-June to mid-May when temperatures are usually more bearable.
This unprecedented move was a huge gamble for Rotella and the entire team at Insomniac. The announcement was made in late summer last year, only giving them about eight months to not only produce the biggest EDM festival in North America, but to also give guests an all-new camping experience. Not to mention working with new third-party shuttle services as well as coordinating the events EDC Week, a week-long lineup artists shows at top Vegas venues.
In a city known for big players and high stakes, Rotella took the biggest gamble them all, promising an enhanced EDC experience for all its guests— and it paid f…BIG TIME. As I stated earlier, I have never been at a loss words when it comes to an opening paragraph, but what Rotella and the Insomniac crew managed to pull f in eight month's time is unbelievable and in doing so created the most perfect EDC Las Vegas yet.
The 22nd edition Electric Daisy Carnival saw a sold-out three-day attendance over 400,000 people from around the world, 20,000 them were campers at Camp EDC. The inaugural Camp EDC did see some traffic headaches the first day campsite opening, with eager dwellers waiting for hours as their vehicles were thoroughly searched before entering the grounds. Once inside and settled in, campers had the distinguishable honor being the first people ever to camp at EDC Las Vegas. The campsite was located immediately next to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and included in-and-out privileges to campers into the festival the entire weekend.
Campers were treated to an exclusive pre-party celebration hosted by Excision atop the Parliament Art Car, featuring Habstrakt and G Jones, with surprise sets by NGHTMRE back-to-back Slander and Wavedash. Other camp ferings included pool parties (with acts like Tommie Sunshine, Camelphat, Solardo, and Arty), yoga, totem making worships, rave aerobics, stand-up comedy, and plenty field games. While I personally did not reside at the campsite, the general consensus I gathered from tenants were positive, mainly praising the overabundance activities throughout.
Another first, EDC hosted a daily opening ceremony at cosmicMEADOW, allowing guests to access that part the speedway before the rest the grounds opened. This was a huge draw to campers who had easy access to and from the festival, as slowly but surely the rest the attendees trickled into the speedway. Friday saw the impressive performance Chris Lake (one his many sets throughout the weekend) playing back-to-back with Chris Lorenzo, Saturday brought the Night Bass with AC Slater and Sunday's opening ceremony played host to MK.
I began my EDC journey on Friday evening by roaming the grounds the speedway, not only to familiarize myself with the layout, but also to check out all the new stage designs and art installations. I stood atop the bleachers in awe and excitement as I gazed out at what lay ahead me. After five consecutive years attending EDC Las Vegas, I still cannot believe that a place like this exists.
My cruise around the speedway led me to encounter some the new art installations including the Pagoda Pyramid, the Hexatron (a personal favorite mine with its forest lights), Elektra (the tall colorful figure akin to Burning Man's “the man” statue), and Ghost Ride, a picturesque full-size Vietnam-era military plane that hovered above guests. I was pleased to see more chill-out spots than previous years, including a section where you can relax and view some your favorite cartoons, like Rick & Morty.
The Carnival Square was updated this year to create a brand new area dubbed Downtown EDC. Plenty Instagram-friendly photo opportunities surrounded this central meeting spot, which also included free arcade games, virtual reality experiences, free Wi-Fi and charging stations, a laser graffiti wall and LED video walls displaying live sets from across the speedway. Immediately next to the square was one my favorite walkways in all EDC— Memory Lane. This path allows you to get from one side the festival to the other while being completely surrounded by giant LED screens displaying videos EDCs past.
Packed with immense energy and cheerful attitudes, this year's performers at EDC did not disappoint. From atomic ponies to brass monkeys and marching majorettes, the talented cast artists helped enhance the EDC experience by entertaining guests as they paraded around the speedway.
The popular art cars also traversed the venue throughout the weekend. Some the eclectic vehicles included Walter, a 23-window Volkswagen bus, Big Red, Heathen (a fire-breathing big rig) and course the Parliament, Kalliope, Boombox, The Wench and Wide Awake art cars which showcased some the biggest artists in a more intimate stage setting. Highlights include Kaskade's Strobelight Seduction sunrise set, Nitti Gritti, MK b2b Will Clarke, Drezo, Ekali b2b Dr. Fresch, Timmy Trumpet, Jauz's Off the Deep End set and Seven Lions b2b Dimibo with a stellar trance set. The art cars have become a staple at EDC for hosting up-and-coming talent as well as producing some the most memorable sets the weekend.
Corona's Electric Beach stage was the perfect seaside getaway in the middle EDC. Hosted by the popular beer label, the beach vibes were riding with sets by Dateless, Mija, Yookie, Wongo b2b Jace Mek, and Brownies & Lemonade surprise guests: Moksi, Robotaki, LOUDPVCK, Anna Lunoe and GTA.
Each year, EDC debuts a brand new design for its main stage known as kineticFIELD. Having set the tone for grand, beautiful designs in the past, the debut this massive stage has become a must-see for every attendee. This year, not only did Insomniac debut yet another intricate design for its main stage, but it also debuted other stage architectures which helped in creating the feeling a refreshed, yet familiar layout. Aside from kinteticFIELD, the redesigned stages included bassPOD, circuitGROUNDS, neonGarden, wasteLAND, quantumVALLEY (which debuted last year under a tent), and stereoBLOOM (what was previously known as the upside down house). cosmicMEADOW was the only stage that kept the same identity as previous years, but that did not stop it from bringing in the crowds.
The quintessential stage, the heart EDC, kineticFIELD was transformed this year into the universe kineticLOVE. One the four pillars PLUR (the rave culture principles known as Peace, Love, Unity, Respect), love was the overall theme to this year's event and kineticFIELD was the heartbeat it all. The 405-foot wide by 98-foot tall structure comprised two towering majestic figures showed the true meaning kineticLove as they guarded the heart the festival. The adjoining VIP area gave its patrons commanding views the stage ahead and (for the first time) allowed them to take a dip in the all-new kineticPOOL.
Throughout the weekend, kineticFIELD was home to the biggest names in EDM including Zedd, Vini Vici, NGHTMRE, Don Diablo, Dash Berlin, Seven Lions, Alan Walker, Diplo, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Slushii, Marshmello among others. Highlights include Tiesto's Avicii tribute, Kaskade's jam-packed set, Afrojack (who stated that this was his best set EVER), and the weekend closing set by Chris Lake back-to-back with Fisher.
The “second main stage”, circuitGROUNDS was reprogrammed and given an upgrade this year. While it maintained its signature 360-degree design, the design went from hexagon LED screens to future tech circular screens that immersed you in a land electric vibes.
circuitGROUNDS brought three-days artists from all genres the electronic spectrum. Artists such as R3HAB, Borgeous, KSHMR, Hardwell, Armin van Buuren, Mija, Black Gummy, and Martin Garrix. Standout performances include Excision's laser-filled bass show, Eric Prydz, Claude vonStroke, Virtual Self (Porter Robinson's futuristic alias), NGHTMRE & Slander's Gud Vibrations set, Rezz and Yellow Claw, who somehow managed to get the crowd to boo after bringing out Danielle Bregoli (better known as the “Cash Me Outside” girl from the now-viral Dr. Phil episode).
The ultimate haven for trance lovers, quantumVALLEY unlocked its gates as an open-air stage for the first time. Having debuted last year under a tent, this year's design expanded into the electric sky and brought with it an insane megastructure that created a warehouse vibe inside a cube-shaped steel structure. Situated right outside kineticFIELD, quantumVALLEY had a coveted spot at the speedway, allowing guests who were traveling by to stop and take in the ethereal beats and melodies trance music.
Hosted by Dreamstate, quantumVALLEY showcased the very best in all subgenres trance (progressive, psytrance, uplifting and tech trance) including Roger Shah, ATB, Alpha 9, Avalon, Blastoyz, Markus Schulz, Ferry Corsten, Paul van Dyk and Cosmic Gate. Saturday saw the takeover popular label Anjunabeats and its artists- Spencer Brown, Oliver Smith, Ilan Bluestone, Jason Ross, Andrew Bayer, Grum, Gabriel & Dresden and a spectacular back-to-back set by Genix and Sunny Lax.
Other notable performances include Astrix, Cold Blue, Jordan Suckley's 3FECT, and the highly anticipated classics set by Dash Berlin. The Friday throwback set saw quantumVALLEY overflowing as fans gathered to hear the classic 90s and 2000s sounds trance by Dash Berlin.
Having been one the most popular stage designs previous years, bassPOD's iconic robotic fire-breathing structures disappeared this year in favor a new Tron-like, neo-futuristic design that kept similar elements the past yet pushed you into the future. Gone are the dark octagonal shapes and in its place are jagged, geodesic shapes with chromes and blues.
Still a hot spot for bass lovers, bassPOD (which was hosted by Bassrush) conceived the sounds trap, dubstep, and drum & bass for all its legions headbangers to revel in. Acts such as Black Tiger Sex Machine, Zomboy, GTA, Space Jesus, Eptic, Herobust and Spag Heddy played over the weekend. Highlights include Excision's Detox set (showcasing a wide range sounds), Pendulum, Flux Pavilion b2b Doctor P, Dubloadz b2b Monxx and 12th Planet b2b Kill the Noise.
An impressive Egyptian landscape is the setting for this hardstyle sanctuary. The stage itself was enclosed this year as to not have the noise bleed out into other areas. Graffiti-ravaged box trailers (with drawings some famous cartoon characters) surround the land known for high energy beats and its revelers.
Hosted by Basscon, DJ Isaac, Headhunterz, Darren Styles, TNT, Da Tweekaz, Angerfist and Coone were some the names you could find in the ancient Egyptian ruins. Other notable sets include Digital Punk, Anime b2b Mad Dog, Junkie Kid, Notorious Two and Code Black.
Gone is the iconic pyramid-like structure that dominated the EDC skyline in years past- in its place, a tribute to the archetypal building. Now enclosed on all sides, the interior the neonGARDEN resembled a pyramid with jagged pylons stretching to the now-open sky. Described as a nightclub setting, the popular stage lost its giant disco ball but kept the underground beats house and techno.
The enclosing the stage did create some pain points as it meant very few entrances and exits and even caused the closing the entire area during some the most popular sets due to overcrowding.
Three days house and techno made this a very popular destination at EDC this year with acts such as Jamie Jones, Hot Since 82, Loco Dice, Paul Woolford, Tiga, The Black Madonna and Charlotte de Witte.
Hosted by factory93, Some my favorite sets the entire weekend took place at the neonGARDEN including Cirez D (Eric Prydz), Adriatique, Gorgon City, Solardo b2b Camelphat, Green Velvet and the impressive Green Velvet b2b Gorgon City b2b Detlef day two sunrise set.
A more intimate stage, stereoBLOOM was the highlight my weekend. The club-like atmosphere that the stage design created was hosted by Insomniac Records and presented a wide-range emerging talent as well as established artists that kept the crowds dancing all weekend.
Bassrush records took over on Sunday with acts like Caspa, JSTJR, Yookie, Zeke Beats and Rell the Soundbender b2b Rawtek. Prominent sets include Dombresky, Fisher, Jack Beats, Sinden b2b Lo'99, MK, Chris Lorenzo, Will Clarke and Wongo. These artists pulled in wanderers and kept them dancing and grooving along to their beats.
I like to think cosmicMEADOW as the opening and closing acts EDC Las Vegas. It is the first stage you encounter as you descend from the grandstand and really sets the tone for other stages with its impressive design and size. As you leave each night, the sounds coming from the cosmicMEADOW surround you, eventually fading away as you climb up the stairs and head back home. No new stage designs were unveiled for 2018, but that didn't stop cosmicMEADOW from being one the biggest magnets at EDC.
Hosted by HARD, cosmicMEADOW is known for its wide arrange artists (including live acts and rappers) as well as being a lush green relaxing spot for attendees to unwind. As stated earlier, cosmicMEADOW hosted its first ever daily EDC opening ceremony, granting earlier access to the celebrations for everyone.
Over the course the weekend, cosmicMEADOW was home to Illenium, Borgore, Snails, San Holo, Boys Noize, Getter, Loudpvck, Zeds Dead, Habstrakt and Mike Will Made-It. Standout performers include Chris Lake b2b Chris Lorenzo (Friday's opening ceremony), The Binches (Dot Com, Ookay, Yultron and Kayzo), DJ Mustard (who brought out Nick Jonas and YG), Ookay (whose live set included a performance by Kenny G on the saxophone) and Shiba San.
cosmicMEADOW was also home to Tchami and Malaa's No Redemption set , one the standout performances the weekend. The two have been touring this show to sold-out audiences across the country and it became the must-see act at this years EDC. I have personally never seen cosmicMEADOW that crowded before; it was such a draw that it managed to pull guests from Eric Prydz's set at circuitGROUNDS.
For three nights out the year, the desert landscape Las Vegas transforms itself into the ultimate adult playground. A perfectly curated utopia where societal labels are shed, where the unique individual inside you that yearns to come out can shine free. A music lover's paradise where the melodic beats intertwine with the most breathtaking stages and state--the-art visuals.
A huge congratulations and pat on the back for Pasquale Rotella and his team for being able to pull f EDC Las Vegas 2018 only eight months after they announced the massive overhaul the festival. An overhaul that included not only multiple new stage designs, but a change date to a cooler time the year, a brand new nightly opening ceremony experience, new third-party shuttle companies and the biggest addition them all— Camp EDC, a mini-city comprised tents and RVs that immersed its tenants in the magic EDC 24/7.
EDC Las Vegas is more than a music festival, it is an experience. Very few places on this Earth allow you to disconnect from society and transport you into another realm reality. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the sensations and the emotions that surround you at EDC are unique and the team at Insomniac outdoes itself every year to bring that magic under the electric sky.
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