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EDC, Night 3: Peaking until the end

Revelers atop the Dancetronauts 'Strip Ship' art car (COURTESY PHOTO: ERIK KABIK/RETNA)
Revelers atop the Dancetronauts 'Strip Ship' art car (COURTESY PHOTO: ERIK KABIK/RETNA)

I’ll save a broader analysis for the print version due out Wednesday. The instant takeaway, though, is Insomniac Events not only outdid itself, but arguably every other festival promoter out there. While it may not have the music-fanatic allure of a Coachella, or provide an axis-tilting experience a la Burning Man, the ’Daisy has blossomed into such a unique escapist wonderland that it beggars belief how anyone else can top it — even Insomniac itself.

Even on Sunday, the event seemed to still be building to a climax and roaring toward the finish line, which was remarkable given the possibility that its attendees' pace might have been slowing at the end of a weekend of hard partying (take that as you will).

Alas, EDC saved some surprises until the end, including a pre-dawn, multisensory stage production at the Kinetic Field main stage that showcased performance artists, an inflatable ball drop, a light show and the second fireworks show of the evening, and a Burning Man-type art car parade that also included Cirque du Soleil-like performers.

Sunday was also the day it experimented with programming underground-championing DJs at the main stage, such as veterans Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox and Umek. The results were decidedly mixed: While the expansive dance area appeared to be at no more than 25 percent capacity during those acts’ sets, those who did bother to show up still skewed very young and — at least within my proximity — were visibly engaged with the techno-leaning house grooves. “That was fucking awesome!” bellowed one whipper-snapper at the close of Hawtin’s less-is-more rumblefest, bolstering the DJ/producer’s assumption that the EDM surge would drive some of the newbies to the genre’s roots and edges.  

I personally spent most of EDC dodging the commercial dance music, due to its ubiquity both in culture and in Vegas nightlife — to say nothing of capitalizing on the opportunity to see dance acts that rarely play the area — but objectively speaking, the programming was consistently varied and always offered at least one worthwhile option or potential revelation for those interested in the genre. Not once did I look at the schedule and think, oh, there’s no one interesting to catch, guess I’ll queue up for the ferris wheel. Personally, I’d have welcomed some deep, R&B-flavored house — Miguel Migs and Doc Martin, for example, could have played early or late on a stage, or even on one of the handful of DJ-enabled art cars — and an act or two from the experimental/indie electronic field. And there was room for more drum ‘n’ bass, though during Andy C’s otherwise exhilarating performance last night, I saw one of the smallest Basspod stage crowds all weekend (he played opposite to Knife Party, which drew a sprawling throng to the Cosmic Meadow/HARD stage). Nonetheless, nearly any beat junkie would have gotten his fix this weekend, regardless of his specific preferences.

This particular househead spent a lot of time at the Neon Garden stage this weekend, and especially toward the end of last night. While I'm disappointed that conflicts limited my consumption of Art Department’s set — the Canadian twosome is this decade’s great hope to push the tech/prog house sound further into the future, and to some extent, it already has — there was no leaving Sasha’s set under any circumstance. Alternatively deep-progressive and celestial, and almost always elegant, the English icon’s 90-minute set was reliably transportive, not to mention a breath of fresh air to anyone househead who’d had their fill of austere, bassquaking grooves. It was the closest approximation of the Ibiza sound EDC would hear all weekend.

I would have been happy to end my EDC weekend on that refreshing, blissful note, but opted to take in some of revered producer/DJ Jamie Jones’ occasionally playful stage-closing set until I ran out of boogie. I may have been exhausted, but I left with a smile on my face, EDC having given me almost anything I — and any other attendee — could have possibly wanted.