Remember when Eminem said nobody listens to techno? The times have certainly changed since that infamous rant, considering the fact that more than 185,000 people attended the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Exposition Park last weekend, according to a rep for the fest, making it one of the largest dance-music events in the country. The party spanned two days, five stages and boasted over 150 of the most famous DJs in the world, including Armin Van Buuren, Benny Benassi, deadmau5 and Kaskade. Even Will.I.Am had a prime slot on the main stage Saturday night, and Lil Jon came out to host on the mic both nights. Free carnival rides, art installations, state-of-the-art lighting and sound also helped to create a one-of-a-kind electronic-music experience.
“EDC, I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life, and I’ve DJ’ed everywhere in the world,” Steve Angello of the Swedish House Mafia announced to the crowd during their headlining set Friday night. “Los Angeles, this is unbelievable!”
Dance music has been bubbling just below the surface of urban alternative culture and in underground clubs for over two decades now, but with the recent success of mainstream artists like Lady Gaga, the genre is now riding radio airwaves and crossing over to the masses.
“What’s going on in the U.S. nowadays is very exciting,” Dutch DJ and producer Laidback Luke said. “House [music] crossed over to the mainstream in Europe about 10 years ago, but America was always struggling with it. Now, there are many talented singers and rappers cross-breeding with dance music, and it gives us a great opportunity.”
In its 14th year, Electric Daisy Carnival has been growing exponentially. In 2008 the event broke its maximum capacity with a crowd of over 50,000 people, and in 2009, an estimated 140,000 people attended. The event’s promoters, Insomniac, decided to expand the show into several other cities this year, creating an Electric Daisy tour that touches down in Dallas, Denver and Puerto Rico.
The park gates opened on Friday at 2 p.m. to a sea of scantily dressed, happy-faced ticketholders who had been waiting in line since as early as 10 a.m. to enter. Dirty Dutch DJ Chuckie got the main stage bumping with popular remixes of LMFAO, Akon and Estelle. By 8, over 60,000 were crowded into the main stage for Dirty South, who had the entire audience singing to his Red Hot Chili Peppers “Otherside” remix. Swedish House Mafia then blew the roof off with hit singles like “Leave the World Behind” and their new collaboration with Pharrell, “One.” On the side stages, smaller crowds were treated to stellar sets by Basement Jaxx, Infected Mushroom, Moby and Steve Aoki, who brought out Lil Jon and Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo to sing tracks off of his forthcoming album. Deadmau5 closed out the show in the Coliseum for a packed audience that included many fans wearing his name on their shirts and some who even built custom mouse heads to mimic his signature costume.
“EDC was friggin amazing!” deadmau5 posted to his Twitter page soon after his set. “Thanks so much to my fans; you know this mouse loves L.A.”
Come Saturday, the show was completely sold out, with well over 100,000 attendees. By 6, the main floor of the Coliseum had already reached maximum capacity, and security began directing fans to the stadium seats as Will.I.Am took the stage. He opened with crowd-pleasers “Going Back to Cali,” “Joints and Jam” and later a Michael Jackson tribute that had fans dancing and bashing around.
Suddenly, several kids from the seats started rushing the main floor, pushing past security guards and hopping the two safety fences that stood between them and the ground. What started as a few rapidly became dozens of unruly fans. The Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday that more than 100 people were admitted to the hospital for injuries that occurred over the two-day fest.
It got so disruptive that at one point, Will.I.Am stopped the music in order to calm the storm.
“Y’all gotta stop hurting each other and quit jumping fences!” he screamed into the mic. “Stop acting like motha—-in’ fools. I’ve been all over the world to perform, and I’ve never seen anything like EDC in my life. Please respect the culture and what’s happening here!”
That quieted the crowd and got things more composed, but security continued to restrict fans from entering the main dance floor. Laidback Luke, up next on the decks, once again had to turn off the music, and Lil Jon got on the mic to facilitate crowd control.
“Do you mutha—-as wanna get this party shut down?! If you see someone climbin’ a fence, pull that mutha—-a doooown!” Lil Jon joked with the fans for a few more minutes, conjuring up a call-and-response to his popular catch phrases, “OK!,” “What?!” and “Yeah!,” bringing things back to a more positive vibe. Kids began to take their seats or file out to other stages.
Benny Benassi’s set came complete with fireworks, pyrotechnics and an immaculate laser light show. He played seamless renditions of his hits “Satisfaction,” “Love Is Gonna Save Us” and the new “Spaceship” single, featuring vocals by Kelis and Black Eyed Peas rapper Apl.De.Ap.
The Cosmic Meadow stage featured some heavy hitters in the electro-house scene, including Wolfgang Gartner, LA Riots, MSTRKRFT and Duck Sauce, the collaboration between DJs A-Trak and Armand Van Helden. Special guest Boys Noize put on a powerful performance on the Circuit Grounds stage with his trademark beats and a stage armed with six massive screens and scorching lights that were set up to surround the entire audience. The Bass Pod stage held a very hyped crowd for the smooth sounds of LTJ Bukem, Brazilian drum-and-bass DJ Marky and the world-renowned turntablist Andy C. Finally, Armin Van Buuren closed out the Coliseum with a two-hour set of all his classic tracks and a grand finale of fireworks. The festival officially ended at 2 a.m., but the Insomniac afterparty, featuring yet another set by Benny Benassi, went on until the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Were you at the Electric Daisy Carnival? Talk about it in the comments!