Those who hate electronic dance music — the numbing sameness of its auto-tuned vocals, bass-heavy synth-drum breakdowns, and vacantly life-affirming choruses (sample: “You live your life just once/So don’t forget about a thing called love”) — will surely despise Under the Electric Sky.
But those who are more indifferent than spiteful — who dismiss EDM as mere background music while, say, shopping for clothes — may enjoy bits and pieces of Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz’s cheery documentary, a razzle-dazzle look (in rather needless 3-D) at last year’s three-day Electric Daisy Carnival, a 345,000-strong festival at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
When not showcasing the DJing of Above & Beyond, Afrojack, and other genre favorites, Cutforth and Lipsitz follow a random series of festivalgoers, some heartwarming (a wheelchair-bound scoliosis survivor; a chubby female outcast who, of course, gets called onstage); some bland (a squeaky-clean, reunited long-distance couple); and some intolerable (two cape-wearing, helium-voiced parents who tie the knot at the festival, and a rowdy group of aspiring DJs from Cape Cod, dubbing themselves the “original Wolf Pack”).
For all its celebration of diversity — the fans wear everything from bikinis and stilts to insect outfits, and just as many say no to drugs as abuse ecstasy — the EDM extravaganza rarely yields reactions more poetic than “Woo-hoo! Three days! I can’t wait!”
And Cutforth and Lipsitz mostly gloss over the real likelihood of sexual harassment, overdosing, and other festival dangers.
But Under the Electric Sky manages to be amusing even while it’s annoying you. Funniest motif: the gyrating owl statue perched above the DJs, which seems to be judging the show’s hedonists with a particularly disgusted eye.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 23, 2014