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Electric Daisy Carnival, Day Three: Out like a lion

Shuffling to DJ A*S*Y*S at the Q Dance stage (photo by Max Plenke)
Shuffling to DJ A*S*Y*S at the Q Dance stage (photo by Max Plenke)

Day three of Electric Daisy Carnival 2012 looked substantially different than day three of EDC 2011. The sluggishness of last year was absent. The stage production was amplified. There was even more music crammed into an already cramped schedule. And it was all thanks to a bunch of stupid wind.

Like Mike Prevatt reported yesterday, Electric Daisy Carnival’s second day was cut short due to 45 m.p.h. winds kicking up around midnight, eventually leading Insomniac to send disappointed dancers into the grandstands to wait out the storm. What that meant was most weekend revelers missed six hours of dancing — and that energy had to go somewhere.

We first saw that energy being released during German hard-prog/hardstyle DJ A*S*Y*S‘ 8 p.m. set. Instead of the shallow, almost tom-tom-like bass beats of some of his Friday peers, A*S*Y*S used a deeper, throbbing bass sound, something like we’d hear again at the Carl Cox and Friends/Cosmic Grounds stage later in the evening. The result was a less-jarring version of a supremely jarring genre.

Speaking of less jarring, Dutch duo D-Block and S-Te-Fan were bumped up, skipping DJ Zany’s set. This was the first time we heard hardstyle that seemed to pander a little bit. These two sound heavily trance-inspired, even so far as calling the music hard trance. It had plenty of wispy, floating synth lines and female vocals. It had a sample of the Justice/Simian “We Are Your Friends” hook. It had a sample of Di-Rect’s “Young Ones.” But under (well, over) all of it, they had the same booming, inescapable, four-on-the-floor bass lines.

Speaking of throbbing bass, we ran over to the Carl Cox and Friends-sponsored stage for what we’d heard being called the “real house” stage. And it was true, especially for London house/electro/techno head Nicole Moudaber. This wasn’t the “house” music in the blanket-term sense, when everything with a four/floor beat and a synth line is house music. This was dark. Jungly. Something you’d hear in a basement lounge in ’90s New York City. The kind of music that’s conducive to limited motion, and definitely no fist-pumping.

From here, the pandering kicked into gear. Major Lazer (the dancehall project of Diplo and Switch), spun a lot of crowd-pleasers (Flux Pavilion’s “I Can’t Stop,” Ye and Jay’s “Niggas in Paris,” Chaka Demus & The Pliers’ “Murder She Wrote” — which we have to admit loving), but with substantially more originality and a uniqueness for EDC. This set had a dancehall reggae vibe (with a couple Diplo solos in there for good measure), breaking up the monotony of the four/floor dynamic for the evening, creating an absolutely ecstatic audience — whose excitement doubled for the only Major Lazer song anyone knows, “Pon de Floor.” But with the established presence of Diplo comes toeing the line of dickish DJ royalty. “Everyone take off your shirt for this one! Girls take off your tops!” was one demand. Another:  that a group of girls with big butts come up on stage to dance to a new song called “Bubblebutt.” Which should now be renamed, “Sorry, Dad.”

The dickery was cut out when Chase & Status jumped up. Despite riding the success of their song with Plan B in the movie Harry Brown, it didn’t feel like they were trying to be rockstars, something as unique to EDC as their opening: They sampled the intro to Super Beagle’s “Dust a Sound Boy” (also sampled by Brother Ali in “Champion” for you hip-hop heads) setting the precedent for a dubstep set heavy on the actual dub. Chalk it up to them being East Londoners. Everything they did was just massive, including a stroke of bravery: playing a mostly unrecognized sample of Die Antwoord, sinking deeper into their earlier drum and bass proclivities.

On the way to Dash Berlin, we stopped off to catch Parisian bass/Electro/DnB/dubstep quartet DirtyPhonics, who were billed as doing a live set. What we showed up to see was four guys on drum machines and loopers, seriously letting us down about the meaning of “live” at this festival. The music was fun and lively, catering to a young and makeout-y demographic, but they fell into a DnB rut and never really tried to get out. Anyway. On to Dash.

The Dutch prog-trance DJ put on, you guessed it, the most pandering set of the night, playing almost exclusively well-known hooks belonging to others (Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “By the Way,” Band of Horses’ “The Funeral” and a song that just repeated the line “This. Is. Las Vegas.”). But pandering notwithstanding, Berlin nailed his set. It was fluid. The crowd ate everything up. Even the tranced-up cover of “California Love” was put together beautifully. The only real “all right dude, knock it off” moment came when he cut all the sound and made the crowd clap (for nothing, at this point) until he spun “I’m Coming Home.” At this point, it’s a bit after 2 a.m., and one of the craziest, longest firework shows is happening just off the side of Berlin’s stage (which is also blasting its own fireworks).

Something we really appreciate about EDC patrons. Even though they’ve endured three days of dance music, hot Vegas nights, thousands of sweaty people ramming into them, and the crushing traffic into and out of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, they will never not stop and take an iPhone video of the firework show.