By BRETT FUJIOKA
There was a time when my classmates would make fun of techno fans and ravers. Those days are certainly long gone, as the Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles proves.
With an attendance of 85,000 on June 24 and a sold out figure of 100,000 on Saturday, electronic music is more alive than ever. I had the opportunity to attend the show on both days, and describing it as an event I would never forget would hardly do it justice.
I can’t think of anything else to compare it to other than perhaps Woodstock and possibly Coachella on a much grander scale. The difference is that it definitely lived up to the anticipated hype.
This isn’t a surprise, since electronic dance music has blossomed and penetrated the mainstream. Major musicians such as Lil Jon and the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.i.am are two purveyors of the musical movement, and a genre once considered esoteric hosted one of Los Angeles’s biggest events of the summer. As Will.i.am said to the crowd, “I haven’t seen anything like this dedicated to dance music.”
In the days leading up to EDC, it was impossible for me to go through the week without hearing a friend chatter in excitement over Facebook or Twitter for the weekend ahead. I initially dismissed the reception as enthusiasm for an esoteric few. There’s no way that it reflected the attendance at large of most Los Angelinos and visitors from without.
That was the first of my mistakes for Friday. I departed from my home at roughly 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon. I didn’t reach the actual venue itself until 5:00 p.m. The exits for Exposition and Martin Luther King Blvd. were packed with drivers struggling to get through with no immediate signs of movement. Couple this with rush hour traffic and it made for a commuter’s nightmare.
I got robbed $60 dollars for parking and the only way I managed to enter festival before 6:00 p.m. was due to the privileges accompanied with my press pass. Traffic was much tamer the following day when I arrived an hour before the gates opened.
All of my stress dissipated once I got in. Imagine the festivities of Mardi Gras and with the Halloween dress code of college sororities all thrown into one. Performers paraded the grounds in stilts dressed like something from a Tim Burton film. Others bedecked themselves like the Batman villainess Harley Quinn and wore fish costumes reminiscent of the Electrical Parade and Disney Land of old. Several art metallic art sculptures were additionally on display in what I could only describe as a Modernist’s wet dream. Faithful to its name, the carnival also featured several amusement rides including a Ferris wheel.
As far as the attendants were dressed, glow in the dark beads were the staple accessory. Men nostalgically clad themselves Pokémon, Power Ranger, and Ninja Turtles t-shirts, while the women left little to the imagination. Some adorned themselves in lingerie, while others went topless with giant stickers to conceal their more private parts. There were so many women, just not a lot of clothes.
With five stages to choose from, (Kinetic field, Circuit Grounds, Cosmic Meadow, Bass Pod, and Neon Garden), it was difficult to decide. Most of the action was in the Coliseum (Kinetic Field), but there were still some big names, like Steve Aoki, in the others.
Since Kinetic Field was the main attraction, it was impossible to get into the lower field without waiting. The only alternate option was to front more money for VIP strap which offered more immediate access or take to the stands where you got a better view of the show just not much more room to dance.
Despite the excruciating wait, it was well worth it to stand in the center field. Others attendants were dancing to the rhythm of the song. Unfortunately as you grew closer and closer to the main it stage, it began to reek of ammonium since people would do their business at the side of the field. In addition to that you could see people “rolling” in clear view for everyone to see.
To give you an idea of how crowded it was, imagine ¾ of the lower field of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum completely filled. Now picture most of the stands like that as well. With the music from Kaskade’s album, “Dynasty,” blazing it invoked the feel of the largest open night club anyone could dream of experiencing.
Behind the scenes, several paramedics and security guards were on standby, but would occasionally let loose and dance alongside the others. The open window for such leisure was still far and in between with multiple kids getting ushered out for illegal possession of drugs, intoxication, and got loaded into an ambulance before nightfall.
As the day waned, I decided to leave the carnival before the final show to beat traffic. It was a nightmare getting out even with an early initiative. Several attendants were lined up along the block yelling at security for barring them after they announced that they wouldn’t admit anyone further.
Earlier, there were several gatecrashers who rushed into the festival and Lil Jon had to interrupt the concert to announce that “they” were threatening to shut the party down if people didn’t stop gate-hopping. The cops were understandably on edge and several of the streets leading to where I was parked were closed off. My friends who braved their way until the very end didn’t reunite with their cars until 4 a.m.
Still, it was a fun and exciting experience, even if the rave scene wasn’t my specific spot of tea. Judging from the reports of people hospitalized from drug use, I can tell that next year’s event will be toned down considerably especially now that Mayor and other City Officials voiced their concerns over some of the complications of the night.
If so, it was nice while it lasted, and removing the decadence from the whole affair saps away most of its appeal. After all, who watches action movies without violence or frequents parties without the intent to socialize? Such is the case for the rave scene. Enthusiastic apologists will insist that it’s for a music and grand light show, but that’s merely the cherry on top of the cake of larger activity. In the end, if you’re not getting messed up, you’re probably entertaining yourself from watching someone else do the deed instead.