Ok, so I like electronic dance music, more specifically Trance. Unfortunately, the US, it's let's just say... a bit behind in that department. If you ever hear such music on the radio, or even in the street, let me know (for instance, in Australia, I heard great Trance in even a waterslide park of all places, and in Europe you can easily get EDM/Trance on broadcast radio).
Since 2004 (it's not 2016), the good news is that Trance has grown quite a following in the US, and places like the SF Bay Area, and while Trance has been declared dead a few times in the last 10 years, it's still going strong here, and we're lucky to have at least one or two big Trance parties per year, so yeah!
With San Francisco and San Jose nearby, I've had some opportunities to see some great EDM/Trance DJs. Back in the early 2000's, they sadly played club music in the US that was nowhere close to the hits they had composed and were known for, but over the years, as Trance started becoming more popular, those DJs finally started playing their good tunes in the US too, and maybe from 2004 on, it's only been getting better.
Over time, I've seen many of my favorite DJs across the world, whether it was locally, in New York City, Canada, Australia, and of course Ibiza, and at Halloween 2004, I finally attended some great local parties that proved that you could get the good stuff locally too (even if all the artists came from other countries .
Over the years, I also got the chance to meet a few of my favourite DJs, including Armin more than once:
So yeah, I got a late start with EDC, didn't know about it until last year when I first went, but after finding out what I had been missing out on, I went to fix the errors of my ways :)
while it's only an 80mn flight from San Jose, CA (and an expensive one at this, $450 due to the other 400,000 people also going for that time), it's a bit tough to have virtually a 8-10H jetlag for just 3 days (EDC going from 18:00 to 05:30 and you ideally sleeping from 08:00 to 14-16:00). Without prescription drugs (or otherwise) and caffeine to help with sleep and awakeness, it must be hard :) But before you ask, daytime weather in Vegas was unbearably hot (45C / 112F), so doing this during the day would not work.
Also, people ask me what camera I use. First, that is a correct question :) Cell phones are very poor night cameras due to the insufficient room they have for a good size sensor. I actually carry 2 handheld cameras that I keep on my belt:
Sony HX60V: this one has a small sensor which is not ideal for night pictures, but it comes with a 30X optical zoom and half usable 85 semi digital zoom. This is a must for taking pictures of the DJ booth when I'm so far that I can't even see the DJ with my naked eyes.
Sony RX100M3: this one only has a 3X optical zoom, but it has a very good 1" sensor for capturing night shots and true color fireworks shots
Before you ask, you cannot get a camera that has a big zoom and great night shots without having a huge camera, and usually carrying 2 lenses. By then it's easier to just use 2 smaller cameras :)
At times, I'd also be filming with the RX100 with one hand (I have about 3.5H of video from this EDC) and taking zoomed shots of the DJ booth with the other hand.
This gave me a good chance to try my LED shoes I had hacked to add extra battery life (12H) along with lit shoe laces, and my portable blinky lights for my shirt:
It was a good time to try my shoes I had hacked to have 12H battery life :)
As for how big EDC is, saying it's big doesn't quite explain it, and neither does the map, but maybe this night shot from a heli, will:
map of the grounds, might look small on the map, but it's big :)
Getting 400,000 people there and back is no small feat. I took uber the first night because I only arrived around 03:30 (having gone to Omnia to see Armin just before that), and even then the traffic was not clear. The shuttles work ok, except for the loading that is super inefficient in both directions. I really hope Insomniac gets to fix that because it adds substantial unnecessary delays. The wristbands were by color with RFID to verify single use and spot fakes:
many wristbands, spot the fakes :)
Before starting on the report of the 3 days, I'll start with a few misc pictures of signs and people:
I ran into Dito Milian, who usually takes my picture at Thunderhill :)
my hoola hoop wielding trance loving fan I run into at all events I go to, was here again :)
The first day, the Trance lineup was light (as in nothing before 03:30, just two hours before end of the evening), and I was interested in seeing Omnia where Armin was playing anyway, so I went to see Armin 1h30 (sadly not his whole set), from 01:00 to 02:30, and took an uber to EDC, getting me at Stage 7 just after 03:30. By then, I was able to see John O'Callaghan, Jordan Suckley, and W&W
I stayed until 05:30 when John O Callaghan finished after sunset
back to the inefficient shuttle line to get to bed by 08:00
Quick video summary of Day #1:
Day #2, I arrived earlier (22:30-ish) to enjoy the sights and different stages before Above and Beyond and Armin at 01:30 and 03:00 (both of whom played an excellent set at Cirtcuit Grounds), to be followed by Dash Berlin from 04:19 to 05:30 at Kinetic Fields. There were lots of carnival rides, even a water ride!
the ball swimming pool was always fun :)
help, I'm drowning! :)
EDC also has great fireworks. Check out the 5mn clip of fireworks the 3rd day (they start getting crazy around 02:40):
Some other random pictures of the grounds:
And then it was time for Above and Beyond at Circuit Grounds where they played an awesome set again:
taken with an 85x zoom, sorry that it's a big blocky
Armin was next, he played somewhat harder trance, starting with repeating his opening track from Omnia: "I am the dominator, there is no other". Very subtle indeed :)
After Armin, I went back to Kinetic Fields for Dash Berlin for a sunrise set:
90m of Day #2 highlights I filmed:
Then it was time to get back to my hotel room and catch some sleep before the 3rd day (yeah for a 12H jetlag by just going to Vegas). I arrived a bit earlier on the 3rd day since Paul Oakenfold started at 22:30. Before that, went to check out the grounds a bit more:
Bass Pod caught fire, doh!
Then was time for Paul, who played an OK set, but I've heard better from him, then came Paul van Dyk, Ferry Corsten, Markus Schultz, Gaia (to be fair I preferred GAIA's set last year), Gareth Mery and Aly & Fila. An awesome lineup:
And back for a bit of Aly and Fila before I had to duck out early to catch a shuttle back to Vegas to get a cab back to the airport for a 07:25 flight home. Was in bed by 09:30 for some much needed sleep :) (although I was a bit sad to have missed the last 45mn).
this shot almost looks like burning man :)
90mn highlights video of day #3 I filmed:
Needless to say I had an awesome time, more than last year even (likely due to a more complete trance lineup). This is likely the biggest electronic music festival in the world, and it's pretty spectacular!
Like last year, on the first day of EDC, Armin was playing at Omnia in Vegas. Last year, I had considered going but it was a bit of a pain since Armin was playing smack in the middle of the good parts of EDC (01:00 to 04:00), so I skipped it.
This year was the same thing, but I figured I'd go check out Omnia anyway, and duck out early to go EDC later in the night.
So Omnia is not that simple to get into. First I thankfully had bought tickets online a few days earlier, or I'd have been in an even longer line that might or might not have gotten in that night. Next, they have a pretty strict dress code. For one they stopped me from even getting in with a small black fanny pack that I was carrying the battery pack and lights for my shirt, which of course I was not even going to be allowed to use inside.
Worse, they told me I could not take my small digital camera and that I'd have to use an inferior cell phone to take pictures if I so wished. That was total bullshit, so I snuck it in anyway, but I really don't like having to do stuff like this (their security included a metal detector, like South Los Angeles crime laden location...).
Anyway, despite all the BS, I eventually got in with one of my 2 cameras, which is good because there were good shots to be taken.
there were so many different lines to get in, it was pretty silly and fairly confusing
The main lighting contraption in the middle was very configurable and at times looked like a spaceship was landing to come abduct you and beam you up. It was pretty cool :)
I don't know how many got abducted by the tractor beam :)