Electric Daisy Carnival 2012: First Impressions

Approximately 40 20-somethings adorned in neon stood motionless and staggered up a hill, searching the horizon, though bass was booming in the background. It was almost eerie, until I realized these were merely the gates of the 16th Electric Daisy Carnival, waiting for friends still getting their credit card-like tickets scanned.

Kudos to Insomniac Events for moving the orientation of the Cosmic Meadow stage so it now welcomed attendees with booming bass and brilliant twinkling lights.

First stop was the Bass Pod stage while the sun still hung relatively high. The intrigue? A DJ named Circuit and an all-vinyl set. Yes! They DO exist! Bringing some drum and bass and jungle, the vibe was instantly infectious, despite the only 30 or so people dancing in front of it.

But that wasn’t the case for long as smiling faces descended the stairs into the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. But my eye was quickly caught as expected by the festival’s new stage addition, Q-Dance. If you ever want to know what a warehouse party a decade ago would have sounded like, the hardstyle soundtrack is jubilant, but still gritty and raw.

One surprising trend this year, as opposed to 2011 or even EDC in L.A., was that the earlier arrivals were like moths to a flame towards the main stage. It promptly became packed from stage to the VIP area waaaaaay in the back. The six other stages, however, took a measurably longer time to gain a substantial crowd.

The earlier hours, I found, are best for exploring the grounds while there’s still daylight and catching snippets of the opening DJs to see if anyone catches my ear. The Darksiders get kudos, as does Jaytech. But my pleasant surprise of the first half of the night? Insomniac’s new Discovery Stage featuring unknown DJ/producers picked after they submitted a mix that had to include at least two of their own original productions. The duo Virtu was so on-point and yet original enough that they could have been playing the Kinetic Field.

Other noteworthy acts included a surprise extended set from Gabriel & Dresden after Matt Zo, who was scheduled to follow them, was unable to make it to LVMS in time. Traffic seemed to be a prevailing theme for friends I encountered. Turns out, after their set Dave Dresden said they were cutting it so close to when they were schedule to play and their vehicle wasn’t moving, he and Josh Gabriel ended up walking a ways only minutes before their set was to start.

So a few tips for those heading out Saturday: Side roads! It’s all about the side roads. I arrived around 7 p.m. and hit zero traffic thanks to my super-stealthy ninja route. I’d tell ya, but then it’d take me longer to get here tomorrow. Sorry, kids, but I’ll see ya on the dance floor.