Let’s get it out of the way: Despite its multi-million dollar budget, Insomniac’s Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas 2015 was an old school rave. As a writer, you really want to criticize SOMETHING about the festival, so you can seem like you are giving a balanced portrayal. But really this rave lived up to its hype.
The scope and attention to detail is beyond what any aspiring rave promoter “back in the day” (including Insomniac I’ll wager) even dreamed of, seriously. I should know. I was one. I threw my first rave in 1991, owned one of America’s first techno record shops, have written for rave fanzines and magazines on and off for decades, produced music, and I’ve DJed all over this fine country. So with a certain amount of credibility I can say that EDCLV 2015 was so over-the-top, so lavish from a classical rave perspective, that my mind boggled.
Despite the 450,000 people at over $300 a ticket, one might still marvel at how this event broke even—another old school rave trait. Not content with their last success, Insomniac went even bigger. Many an old-school rave promoter lost their shirts that way, but it didn’t stop Insomniac. First off, the fireworks were more intense than I’ve seen at Disneyland. It was a non-stop finale from beginning to end. The various dance areas were visually artistic. The sound-systems were kickin’ and clear. The DJ and live-act talent had a major representative from nearly every EDM sub-genre. They could’ve had a little more hardcore in my opinion but at least EDC had some, unlike a lot of mainstream raves today.
Amusement rides were at the ready for festival goers. Street performances, if not done to absolute perfection, were done with so much heart their enthusiasm was contagious. And, THERE WERE CHILL-OUT AREAS. So many raves today have forgotten about the importance of the “ambient chill room” so you can escape the sonic maelstrom and relax. It was back in full effect at EDCLV 2015. There was something even for the snobby ravers, such as VIP areas. But those were few and far between and didn’t interfere with the vast majority’s good time. In fact, they were kinda hard to find.
Over the years some things have changed. The fashion is far removed from the baggie pants and hoodies of the 90’s. Basically it was a lot of bikinis and anime-inspired costuming. It was however, 91 degrees just about every night, so the dress was arguably appropriate. I didn’t hear or see anyone selling drugs, amazingly. Obviously at any big event drugs and alcohol will be present but Insomniac seems to be taking the most forward-thinking, advanced steps in crowd safety. We will have to wait until our society finally demystifies, legalizes and stops glamorizing so-called “recreational drugs” if we want to truly solve America’s drug problems.
Two important words: FREE WATER. That’s an improvement on the old days. Imagine being in a sweaty warehouse where the promoter turns off the water faucets so you have to buy bottled water. That happened all the time back-in-the-day. Those shady cat promoters charged $5 for a bottled water back in the early ‘90s!
Corporate sponsorship. Yes, 7-Up had their own stage but 7-Up’s logo wasn’t plastered everywhere you looked. Practically every promoter back in the day would have loved corporate sponsorship and pursued it. So, I’m not crying “sell-out” by any means. Camel and Marlboro used to sponsor MayDay, Love Parade, all kinds of stuff. At least we didn’t have to rave around jittery chain-smokers this time around. An improvement, in my opinion.
So this might shock you—but I’ll lay it on the line. If you raved “back-in-the-day” I’m happy to say you would have found a lot to like at EDCLV this year. The same spirit and energy you might have remembered from your rave-days is present and noticeable in this new generation, and Insomniac obviously took great care to make that happen and even improve on it.