The 18th edition of Electric Daisy Carnival is upon us. Taking place this weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Insomniac is bringing their biggest event to date…and we have the pictures to prove it. EDC as we know it today has undergone many changes since its SoCal inception in 1997. DJs, stage names, locations, and fans have come and gone throughout the years but Pasquale Rotella‘s dream has never changed. Set out to be “the greatest show on Earth,” Electric Daisy Carnival puts YOU first, ensuring the greatest festival experience for your money.
It has been an interesting journey since 1997. EDC now holds the records as the largest electronic music festival outside of Europe earning the nickname “the American Ibiza.” If you’ve never been able to experience an EDC, tonight you can with EDC Curated, which Rotella claims is not just a live stream. According to Lessthan3.com, the webcast will offer “10 selectable feeds, including a few on the carnival rides, grandstands, and flying around on gyrocopters for a never-before-seen ‘owl’s eye’ view of what is expected to be the biggest EDC in history at 400,000 guests.”
Now let’s travel back to Insomniac and EDC’s humble beginnings as we prepare for the most recent addition of “the greatest show on Earth.”
Electric Daisy Carnival first sprang up in 1997 making a small name for itself in Southern California. The very first event was held in LA’s Shrine Expo Hall where roughly 5000 electronic music enthusiasts came to see just a handful of DJs. From this point on the festival began to expand rapidly.
By 1999, EDC moved locations to Lake Dolores Waterpark in Newberry Springs, CA. These delightful ravers seen above are hanging out in front of the freshly installed carnival rides of which EDC is now famous for. The 1999 event featured four areas divided by genres–Trance/Techno, House/Breaks, Drum n Bass/Jungle, and Hardcore. Imagine the comments on Facebook if that was the case these days.
The year 2000 ushered in the new millennium and also another location change, this time to the World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA. Now featuring 5 stages, Electric Daisy Carnival began to book some of the biggest names in the industry. DJ Dan, BT, Freestylers, Christopher Lawrence, Bad Boy Bill, and Dieselboy were all EDM mainstays in the year 2000 and Insomniac (still with their old logo) would begin to book these artists regularly.
EDC 2000: Stage Set Up
2001 was the year Insomniac brought their traveling circus for the first time across state lines. The SoCal event was moved to Hansen Dam in Lake View Terrace and the first edition of EDC: Texas was held in Austin at Thunderhill Raceway Park (the first time EDC would grace a speedway until 2011). In 2001, EDC LA grew to six stages complete with circus style stage names. Insomniac featured a house specific stage hosting world-class DJs Mark Farina and Carl Craig. EDC Texas had a more eclectic lineup with Rabbit In The Moon and Green Velvet.
EDC LA 2001: Crowd
The following year, EDC downsized their lineup emphasizing the time’s more popular genres, Trance and Drum n Bass. The LA event would now be held at the Queen Mary Events Park in Long Beach and the Texas edition took place in the Travis County Expo Center in Austin (the same place I experienced my first festival on New Years Eve of 2009). Once again BT played in LA as well as Ed Rush and Optical during their solo ventures, while Texas’ EDC featured a memorable 3-hour set by legendary producer Sasha.
The downsizing trend continued in 2003 with EDC’s only event being held in San Bernadino at the NOS Events Center, where Insomniac continues to throw festivals to this day. 2003 saw just 4 stages and the second appearance of The Bassrush Arena headlined by Ed Rush, Optical, and Planet of the Drums. Also reclaiming its spot on the EDC grounds would be The Fun House stage headlined by Miguel Migs and Gene Farris. The NOS Events Center would become EDC’s home for the next three years.
EDC 2003 Stage
Miguel Migs was brought back in 2004 and was joined by Felix Da Housecat. 2004’s Insomniac Mainstage was headlined by the synthesizer wielding, California native Überzone. This year Insomniac added a stage and brought forth sponsors such as Guitar Center and Guerilla Union in order to lower expenses. From this point on “the greatest show on Earth” had officially made a name for itself and expansion was inevitable.
EDC 2004 Crowd
2005 ushered in a lot of new names to EDC’s repertoire and the one time small-scale festival was now moving into the mainstream. The stage names you are now familiar with saw the light of day in 2005.
The Circuit Grounds featured an unusual array of artists such as Jurassic 5 and The Donnas, while Kinetic Field displayed household names like Ferry Corsten, Infected Mushroom, and The Crystal Method. The Bass Pod once again featured Planet of the Drums and the Cosmic Meadow was headlined by none other than Kaskade. As you can see 2005 marked a very important transition period for Electric Daisy Carnival, as the number of attendees rose so did the performers and production value.
EDC 2005 Stage
“Celebrating 10 Years of Dance!” This was the tagline for 2006’s Electric Daisy Carnival. Ferry Corsten made his headlining return as well as Infected Mushroom, Mark Farina, and the EDC debut of Bassnectar. Insomniac also hyped the 2006 event with a promo video showcasing the “5 Massive Stages” and “Over 60 Artists and Performers” while Ferry Corsten’s Fire provided the soundtrack. Due to the massive growth of EDC in 2006, the NOS Events Center would retire as the home of the festival.
Were you listening to EDM by this point? If not, EDC 2007 was an event not to be missed. 40,000 people attended the new location at the LA Colosseum to witness Paul Oakenfold, Deep Dish, Kaskade, Stanton Warriors and Pendulum headline five separate stages. Above & Beyond played an epic trance set on the mainstage while The Glitch Mob members Edit and Ooah began their rise to success by opening the Basspod stage. 2007 would also mark the end of a five-year run of having a SoCal-only EDC.
EDC 2007: Kinetic Field
Now with six stages, but still a single day event, 2008’s EDC: LA featured many of the names you’re likely to see on any festival lineup these days. Trance and house were at the forefront of this year’s bill with artists like Paul Van Dyk, Menno De Jong, Armand Van Helden of Duck Sauce, and Moby. In 2008, Insomniac once again tried their hand at expanding their horizons and this time it was a hit. EDM was now largely popular and Aurora, Colorado was blessed with their very first EDC event. Kaskade and Above & Beyond headlined the Colorado carnival which was similarly centered around trance and house.
EDC: LA 2008: Christopher Lawrence at Kinetic Field
The expansion continues in 2009, marking the first time EDC would draw itself out to both Friday and Saturday. The 2-day event in LA featured music of all genres and drew in its largest crowds to date reaching 55,000 on Friday and almost 100,000 on Saturday. Along with the extra day came an extra location. Colorado’s event gained momentum and Puerto Rico saw it’s very own Electric Daisy Carnival. Colorado was headlined by Infected Mushroom and Paul Van Dyk while Puerto Rico was met with an eclectic lineup containing Underworld, Damian Lazarus, JFK of MSTRKFT, and Treasure Fingers.
EDC: LA 2009: Performers at Kinetic Field
It’s 2010, have you caught on to the EDM buzz yet? Southern California definitely had and the attendance numbers prove it. This year’s EDC: LA held up to 185,000 people which were soon too many for The Colosseum to handle. As day turned to night and Will.I.Am took the stage, the stadium floor reached maximum capacity and closed off to festival goers. Upon hearing the news, attendees began rushing the stairwells and fences surrounding the Kinetic Field floor causing mass chaos and an increasingly dangerous situation for everyone there. Numerous people were taken to the hospital by paramedics and one fatality of an underage girl occurred, which brought heavy criticism Insomniac’s way.
In addition to EDC’s Colorado/Puerto Rico appearance, the carnival returned to Texas for the first time in eight years. Dallas, Texas played home to the event bringing in Benny Benassi, Kaskade, Rusko, and Moby. 11,000 people were in attendance in 2010, which paved the way for an influx of patrons the following year.
EDC: Dallas 2010
Because of the events that took place the previous year in LA, EDC would now move locations to its current home at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Expanded across the entire weekend, EDC Vegas was a large enough space to hold the 230,000 attendees that flocked to the speedway for the most memorable weekend of their lives. The production value was upped as were the number of performers and the addition of the Heineken Dome.
Dallas’ 2011 EDC would be the last for Texas. 25,000 gathered at Fairpark while temperatures reached 110 degrees and dozens were hospitalized including the death of one young man. This caused a shut down of one of the indoor stages during Excision‘s set and forced attendees to pack into the other buildings. Eventually maximum capacity was breached during Skrillex and fire marshals orchestrated an organized shutdown of the event.
Along with the shift from LA to Vegas, Florida received their very first Electric Daisy Carnival in 2011 at Tinker Field in Orlando. Limited capacity was implemented, but still managed to bring in 12,000 and 20,000 people on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Heavy hitters like Tiesto, Afrojack, Skrillex, and Calvin Harris headlined throughout the weekend.
EDC: Vegas 2011: The Carnival
Bring on the Hardstyle!…and the wind. In a rather innovating move, 2012’s EDC Vegas marked the first time Q-Dance was ever held in North America. The hardstyle stage featured many fan favorites such as Zany, Lady Faith, Headhunterz, and Isaac. Across the 3-day weekend, 320,000 partiers attended, keeping up with the Insomniac’s trend of mass expansion.
The second day of EDC shut down due to excessive winds. Ravers braced the elements in the bleachers starting around 8pm until the event closed at 1am. During this time Markus Schulz and Steve Aoki played impromptu sets on the Insomniac Wide Awake art car briefly to relieve some fans’ disappointment. The Saturday single-day ticket holders were graciously allowed to re-enter on Sunday for the final day.
Insomniac introduced EDC: New York, albeit actually New Jersey, in 2012 which held 45,000 fans. Metlife Stadium packed in festival-goers to see Armin Van Buuren, Steve Angello, Afrojack, and Avicii headline the first official Electric Daisy Carnival: New York.
EDC: Vegas 2012
Like 2012, EDC Vegas was held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and featured a lineup so large you couldn’t possibly see all the DJs you wanted. A sell-out crowd headed to the “American Ibiza” to experience the festival/carnival hybrid and the best EDM the world has to offer. 2013’s setup led Insomniac to set the record for the largest structural stage at a North American festival. Dancing Astronaut compiled the economic impact of EDC Vegas, noting that the event generated $278 million in June during EDC. We’ve come a long way since 1997.
Electric Daisy Carnival greeted new faces last year in Chicago and crossed international waters for the second time with EDC: London. London had a smaller but still stacked lineup featuring artists such as Jack Beats, Flux Pavilion, Sub Focus, and Hardwell. Chicago had a massive 3-day lineup with the four famous EDC stages and an appearance from the Insomniac Wide Awake art car.
EDC: Chicago: Crowd and Confetti
We’ve made it. EDC Las Vegas 2014 starts tonight and runs throughout the weekend. Featuring maybe its most interesting lineup to date, EDC will host the hottest and most forward-thinking artists of right now. What So Not, Trippy Turtle, Tchami, Mr. Carmack, gLAdiator, and LOUDPVCK are some of the artists leading the way for the future of electronic dance music and are all playing at EDC this year. On top of these young producers is a stack of legendary deep house acts that will grace the Neon Garden stage this year, including a Carl Cox curated techno night. Sounds epic. If you’re unable to make it this weekend, remember that EDC Curated will be running each night on the Insomniac website.
2014 also marked the first appearance of EDC: Mexico this past March. The event occurred over two days and featured three stages plus the “Mayan art car.” Mexico experienced a massive showing of today’s best electro, progressive, and house music led by Axwell, Avicii, The Bloody Beetroots, Loco Dice, Boys Noize, and John Digweed.
Over the past 17 years Insomniac, EDC, and electronic music has grown to an enormous standard. This past January Pasquale Rotella and company premiered the EDC Documentary: Under The Electric Sky at Sundance and theaters across America this Summer. Now you have the chance to relive the spectacle of EDC or experience it for the first time on the big screen.
Let’s see where the next 17 years take us…