It was a celebration for the ages as EDC made its triumphant return to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway after almost two-and-a-half years. There were many milestones to be celebrated, aside from the return of the event itself. This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Electric Daisy Carnival, and the 10th anniversary of the festival’s move to Vegas. Not only did Insomniac deliver as per usual with grandiose production, immaculate planning, and a totally stacked lineup. They also made the Speedway feel as comfortable and familiar as it’s ever been, more than any other year, I felt like I was home at EDC.
Although this year’s EDC was a milestone one, and Insomniac managed to expand the festival footprint even more, this year’s festival felt very much like comfort food to me. If you’ve been to the festival, you know what I’m talking about. It’s literally just a warm fuzzy feeling as you traverse the Speedway, a million LED lights lighting up the night sky. If you haven’t been before, it’s tough to describe the sense of wonder one feels at EDC. More than any other festival you will attend, EDC is an immersive world that is spellbinding. But, if you didn’t make it, we’ll try our best to let you know what you missed out on.
My friends and I left the Strip early enough on Friday evening. There was traffic, which was to be expected, but, overall, getting into Premier Parking was relatively easy. We ended up walking in the gates around 9 PM, just in time to head over to Kinetic Field to catch Nicky Romero’s set. Kinetic Field is, of course, the main stage, and it’s design and theme change every year. This year’s theme was kineticZen. The stage featured a massive owl at the center of the stage, it’s wings wrapped in a circle around the main LED display. It was the first time the owl took center (literally) stage since 2015’s The Crystal Village, which also featured a massive owl head, whose eyes gazed all across the dancefloor. The pyro and lasers were exceptional this year, the fountains added a nice touch too.
One of EDC’s most amazing features is always the nightly fireworks show. After more than two years away, Day 1’s fireworks were a sight for sore eyes. I caught the show on the dancefloor of Kinetic Field and it was truly awe-inspiring to see the spectacle play out across the electric sky. But, that wasn’t all, if you were at Kinetic Field you were also treated to a very special drone show. Drones made formations of the EDC logo along with a 25 year commemoration. Most impressively the drones formed the shape of the owl that adorns the stage. It was really impressive and a memory that will certainly stick with me.
As far as the music, it was an all-star lineup at Kinetic Field where I spent most of the night. Nicky Romero dropped his festival-ready progressive house as well as classic EDM anthems like “I Could Be the One” and “Toulouse.” I couldn’t think of a better way to open up the weekend. Loud Luxury followed with a delightful set that saw them drop an impressive array or edits of some of today’s biggest hits. Don Diablo was up next and he kept the positive vibe going with a healthy mix of house bangers and his trademark future house sound including rousing drops of “Momentum” and “Anthem.”
After that, my most anticipated act of the night, the Chainsmokers took the stage. Alex and Drew brought all the energy with them as they dropped all of their hits and dabbled in every genre of dance from house to psy-trance. I was singing my heart out on songs like “Takeaway”, “Don’t Let Me Down”, and “Paris.” But, on top of that, they closed their set out with their first new song since 2019. It was a vibey one too, but, new Chainsmokers was a highlight for sure. After that, Alesso took the stage, and he threw the kitchen sink at the crowd. He threw down some newer house jams like “Together”, “Progresso” and Swedish House Mafia’s “It Gets Better” before getting into his big festival classics like “Under Control” and “Calling (Lose My Mind)”. After that, we made a brief jaunt to Circuit Grounds to check out some of Excision’s set. The vibe was completely different from stage to stage. Despite how large EDC is, it’s kind of the perfect festival to dig in and plant yourself at one stage for the majority of the night. Whatever your vibe is, find it.
On to Day 2, which still featured magical performances, but also featured a few hiccups that have to be addressed. My friends and I headed out early in the afternoon in hopes of catching some of the Opening Ceremony at Cosmic Meadow. Despite having premiere parking and arriving around 6:15, we were waiting in the line with many other patrons until the gates opened at 7 PM. What happened? How come there weren’t any signs directing patrons to the proper entrance? Everyone clearly came early for a reason, I’m just confused as to how people who arrived early weren’t directed to the proper entrance for the Opening Ceremony. Definitely a snafu on Insomniac’s part.
Once inside, I spent most of the night at Circuit Grounds. The stage design was pretty much the same as it’s been in years past. Massive rectangular LEDs surrounding the dancefloor in a 360 degree square. Circuit Grounds is my personal favorite stage because it features main stage talent bringing their own personalized visuals in a slightly more intimate environment. Future bass was in full effect as ARMNHMR were the first act I caught. It was a nice mix of feels and heavy to start the night off right. After that, Benny Benassi took over, and this is where the lineup is just packed to the brim. The legendary Italian house DJ played to a packed crowd that ate up his vintage tech house hits and a few festival bangers, including the Skrillex remix of “Cinema.”
Oliver Heldens was up next, and he dropped all of his bangers. From old school hits like “Koala”, “The Right Song” and “You Know” to newer bangers like “Turn Me On” and his remix of “Another Chance”, Oliver energized the crowd all while maintaining that signature Oliver Heldens sound. This set was a delight. After that, Slander took the stage, and there were equal parts head banging and crying. The crowd was super energetic, my neck was sore, and I didn’t even go that hard. Favorite moments had to be when they dropped “Feeling Good” and “Love is Gone.” After that, it was time for Martin Garrix. It’s been a long time since the Dutch megastar has graced the stage here in the U.S. and he brought it all, including at least a couple of new IDs. But, like the festival itself, Martin played his greatest hits. He did open his set with what appeared to be a new ID with John Martin. After that, it was all of Martin’s bangers, “Like I Do”, “Backlash”, “Virus”, “Mistaken.” He also brought out Maejor for an AREA21 medley, too. On top of that, the stage production was just at another level. Lasers firing everywhere, smoke filling the arena, every color you can imagine.
Remember how I said the fireworks were awe-inspiring on Friday night? They were still great on Saturday, but this time, I watched them while waiting in line for the bathroom at Circuit Grounds. This one isn’t necessarily Insomniac’s fault, but they were having some plumbing issues at the VIP bathrooms at Circuit Grounds, and it wasn’t very VIP. The men’s lines weren’t nearly as long as the women’s, but it was wet waiting in line, and it was kind of stinky at Circuit Grounds VIP. Again, not necessarily Insomniac’s fault, but it was definitely an issue.
Anyway, smells aside, deadmau5 played the Circuit Grounds stage next, and he threw down a set for the ages. He threw down all of his old school hits like “Ghosts N Stuff”, “4×4=12”, and “Strobe” and his newer stuff like “When the Summer Dies”, “Monophobia” and “Bridged by a Lightwave.” On top of that, Joel was in a mood; when he ended his set, he introduced Jauz as DJ Steve, and he ranted about how they went to DJ school together. Jauz, ever the good spirit, went right along with it and introduced himself as DJ Steve (he’s Sam) to the crowd. From there, Jauz threw down a fiery bass house set, that once again saw all of the visual spectacle of Circuit Grounds come to life. After that, I headed back over to Kinetic Field for KSHMR. Similar to deadmau5, KSHMR dug deep into his catalog of songs for classics like “Neverland”, “Wildcard”, and “Karate” to newer hits like “Winner’s Anthem” and “Midnight Lion Walk.” He also payed homage to his roots with the Cataracts by playing the 2010 classic “Like a G6.”
After two loaded days, we fell back on Sunday night, and got there about 9:00 with nowhere in particular to go. The perfect opportunity to explore the festival. This year, I did something I’ve never done at EDC before, catch full sets at Basspod and Wasteland. We opened the night catching Joyryde’s “All D’n’B Set” at Basspod. Once again, I was struck by how different the vibe and crowd was at Basspod compared to Kinetic Field. It’s night and day, and if your heart desires, you can stay at Basspod all weekend and have a great time. Joyryde’s D’n’B vibes were the perfect way to kick off the final night of the weekend. We caught a little bit of Purple Disco Machine at Kinetic (and it was a vibe!) before heading over to Wasteland for Da Tweekaz. Once again, I’d never caught a full set at Wasteland, but it was well worth it to check it out. Da Tweekaz threw down a killer set, the crowd was fully engaged and, like Basspod, the sound hits at Wasteland.
After that, I headed over to Circuit Grounds for Eric Prydz. He might have had the set of the weekend, incredible progressive house tunes, EDM classics, incredible visuals, lasers, fireworks; everything EDC is about. Eric dropped “Pjanoo”, “The Arrival” “Rebel XX” “Everyday” and “Opus.” Combined with the world class visuals and lighters, this was an unsurpassed set. Also, “Opus” is the perfect song for fireworks too. From there I made my way to Cosmic Meadow for my first set of the weekend there, Zedd. I never thought I would be writing this, but, the crowd for Zedd was rowdy as fuck! It was packed to the brim at Cosmic Meadow as Zedd threw down an epic, but familiar set of hits like “I Want You to Know”, “Beautiful Now”, “Clarity” and his edit of “One More Time.” Zedd also mixed in some house tracks, and, oh yeah, he brought out Martin Garrix and they dropped “Tremor.” What a dream come true, now they just need to make a song together.
There’s not too much more I can say about the festival. It was a truly magical weekend; being back at the Speedway was a special feeling. On another note of normalcy, EDC will be returning to its regularly scheduled weekend in May of 2022. It took longer than normal, but, it was another incredible weekend under the electric sky. As EDC always shows, the magic and the memories will continue. Here’s to another 25 years under the electric sky!
Featured image via Taylor Wallace for Insomniac Events