Electric Daisy Carnival
Better than: Sucking on lollipops without musical accompaniment.
The premise behind festivals like the Electric Daisy Carnival creates an odd situation. By bringing a late-night world that typically exists in hot, dark rooms into the outdoors, the face paint and body glitter covering this dance music subculture’s fans become illuminated by the harsh light of day.
The topic of “candy ravers” has become a bit of a cliché when discussing events like EDC, which made its New York debut this year after packing in crowds around the country for more than a decade. I’ll do my best not to beat a dead horse, although in fairness the neon-and-sparkle combinations normally worn by people attending megaclubs like Pacha beg to be noticed. The combination of excessive makeup, bright colors, and minimal clothing made the spectacle even more of a sight.
If $10 beers and $20 packs of cigarettes at the “Sundries and Lollipops” stand weren’t enough to blow dancers’ minds, surefire crowd pleasers like Calvin Harris and Armin van Buuren, delivered via impressive sound systems, sure did the trick. kineticFIELD, which blasted housey electro sounds from the likes of Avicii, Bassnectar, and Fedde le Grand, maintained the largest crowd (judging from a quick fist-in-the-air count), while cosmicMEADOW’s dubstep lineup attracted a more sparse, but equally enthusiastic, crowd below the towering rows of empty seats at MetLife Stadium.
On the festival grounds, Insomniac Events’ dedication to aesthetic flair didn’t go unappreciated. Carnival rides like bumper cars and a spiraling 65 ft. slide thrilled (and perhaps nauseated) ravers sporting bright yellow “roll responsibly” tank tops; in front of the circuitGROUNDS stage, the “Spire of Fire” spat flames in time to trancey beats while Kardashian lookalikes relaxed on Burning Man-inspired “art cars.”
There were multiple occasions during which the crowd chanted along to a rework of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Californication” while artists like James Sunnery and Ryan Marciano filtered out the bass at kineticFIELD. In the meantime, parades of mimes, gold-star-nippled ’70s porn stars, and anime characters danced alongside energetic DJs. And despite its underground nature, Sunday’s neonGARDEN stage, led by the early Detroit techno pioneer Richie Hawtin proved quite popular with the dubstep and trance house oriented crowd.
Though the fairgrounds appeared idyllic and free of medical drama (unlike other editions of the festival), the scene was a little less calm backstage. It appears that Insomniac Events has some lessons to learn in the art of hospitality. After their early afternoon Sunday set, Detroit’s Visionquest apparently had a minor confrontation with neonGARDEN’s security staff; they were kicked off stage immediately following their set, even though they were trying to hang out with fellow Berliner Magda, who followed them on the lineup. Visionquest member Eric Johnston said that “we do this all around the world…but this is the worst treatment we have ever received” from a promoter.
This indicates that the Electric Daisy Carnival, or at least whoever it used for its security force at MetLife Stadium, could learn something from the classic raver values of PLUR: Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect. But all in all, the festival made a positive impression on the crowd during their first event in the northeast.
Critical bias: My dubstep-listening, Webster Hall-crawling days are long gone.
Overheard: “Oh shit! My rainbow tassel fell off!
Random notebook dump: The guy in the head-to-toe disco ball outfit definitely made the weekend for every girl he groped.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 21, 2012