Where do I start?
I’m not quite sure. All I knew was that this was the start of another epic journey to get weird in the desert. I thought back to sitting in my friend's apartment when the lineup dropped and we could barely contain ourselves as we saw some of our all-time favorites booked to play this year.
It was clear this was going to be another EDC for the books and probably one of the most memorable festivals we’d attend in 2018. Thursday came around and we got everything ready for the long trek to Vegas. What’s five hours when you’re headed to another amazing weekend with amazing friends?
Day 1 - Always pace yourself. We woke in the early morning, ready to take on the day. With a healthy breakfast and lunch, we got everything together and headed out to the raceway. On top of everything else, we were beyond excited for the VIP hookah lounge at NeonGarden. Techno and hookah are what keeps us going and this year, Insomniac did an amazing job of combining the two, a dream come true. We journeyed into the festival and took some time to check out the venue.
The new Basspod and NeonGarden designs were nothing short of amazing. As always, we were in awe of these magnificent structures that would encompass us as we danced late into the night. We made our first stop of the night at Basspod to pay a visit to the one and only Ivy Lab. The perfect set to start the night, we met up with some friends from the east coast and got right to dancing and losing our minds to the magic of UK bass. A truly remarkable set with out of this world visuals, we enjoyed Ivy Lab before venturing to NeonGarden to see Latmun. A treat to see an artist we’d missed at a previous festival.
Photo by Greg Chidley
Remember how I said pace yourself?
The NeonGarden's VIP lounge made that an easy task as we enjoyed some great hookah to the thunderous hits from Latmun just a few feet over. I stepped away for a bit to watch the opening ceremony at Kinetic Field. The visual stimulation was second to none as the stage came to life with a display of lasers and fireworks. With a message of love and acceptance, it was clear that we were all distant members of the same family, here to enjoy these next few days under the electric sky.
Photo by Freedom Film LLC
Not long after the opening ceremony, I ventured to circuit grounds for the legend of Dirtybird, Mr. Claude VonStroke. If you’ve seen Claude spin, you know that words don’t do it justice. Claude rang in his set with some crowd favorites and some bangers to keep us on our feet. Minutes passed like seconds as lost ourselves in the classic Dirtybird sound that we all know too well.
We parted ways as our crew split, some of us staying for Virtual Self, some of us taking a break and a couple of us finding ourselves napping under the relaxing aura of carnival square. The night progressed with my favorite set of the weekend, Jamie Jones. We took a small break and ended the night with a visit to the boombox art car as our friends Sang Froyd and Morelia jammed out at their first EDC as artists. As the sun rose from the east, we made the walk back to our car and made it to home base with the heavy bass still bumping in our heads. An epic day one.
Photo by Greg Chidley
Day 2 - Stay hydrated and stock up on red bull. Saturday was off to a slow start. With a visit to our friend's Airbnb, we partied lightly and planned meetups and rendezvous that didn’t end up happening. Oh well, that’s how it goes sometimes.
As much fun as the big stages are, I’d highly recommend spending time at the art cars and smaller stages. As such, we started our night off at the Electric Beach to watch our friends Birthdayy Partyy play an entertaining set for a humble crowd dancing in the sand.
Photo by Greg Chidley
With little pit stops to keep us fueled and pumped, we wandered around the festival once more, enjoying the sights and sounds of the carnival. Becoming friends with strangers enjoying their night, we found ourselves once again at Neon Garden, awaiting Detlef and the rest of the La La Land takeover hosted by Green Velvet.
After grooving our way through an insanely fun B2B between Camelphat & Solardo, we decided to venture out into the festival before returning for Tiga (and another hookah break). The Carnival Square also offered a lot of free to play arcade games, a few VR experiences, as well as a little room set up that shows you how synthesizers work and lets you create loops with effects like modulation. Really interesting and fun for those that are into music production!
Another stop at the QuantumValley brought us sets from fellow Anjunabeats artists Gabriel & Dresden and Grum. Blending in a lot of euphoric, melodic deep house and some pretty interesting techno edits, these 2 sets were a great change of pace and refreshing for the ears and soul.
Photo by Adi Adinayev
We returned to the NeonGarden for the peak set of the night, Green Velvet to see that the stage had hit capacity. The closed setup of the stage this year compared to last year was a great way to mix things up, and it made it seem like a more exclusive club within EDC. Once we were able to get in, what proceeded was 2 hours of some of the most insane mixing and selection of bangers we've ever seen. And this was not our first time watching him either. Time and time again, whether you're with fans of his music or with people who are a little hesitant when it comes to house music, everyone is guaranteed to have a blast.
As much as we wanted to groove until the sunrise, we had to make the trek back to our room so that we can properly rest for the last day of the madness which we were dreading, yet also ready for.
The third and final day is always the most bittersweet - having to return to reality the following day, taking the long drive back home before inevitably calling out of work because you thought you'd be okay to go in...but let's not focus on that. We arrived later on Sunday night due to some unforeseen incidents. A previously half hour trip from our room turned into a 2 and a half hour bout with stop and go traffic. We only had time to see a few acts before having to leave - so we made the best of it.
The NeonGarden was actually full of techno on this night - so we were pretty excited. We got to see some long-time players in the scene Adriatique deliver a heavy progressive techno set, and it was amazing, to say the least. They set up the stage perfectly for the destruction that was to come from Maceo Plex. We also had to make a stop at Eric Prydz's set at the CircuitGrounds, who ended up playing a set of mostly deep Pryda tunes which was a delight for fans of him.
Closing the night at the CosmicMeadow is always a great decision. With Tchami x Malaa, Boys Noize, and A-Trak all after each other there was no better place to be to end our time at EDC. Boys Noize in particular probably played the best set with the least amount of people I had ever seen, which is quite surprising considering how much of an impact he's made on the scene. He started his set off with tunes from his album Mayday and then went into some really deep techno that had elements of acid house and electro. Definitely a set for the books, and dare I say, he murked the crowd.
We sat quietly as A-Trak took CosmicMeadow and we surrendered to a set by one of the worlds best at what he does. Seeing the time click later and later into the morning and the light hue of the sun creeping as it lit the night sky, we realized it was time to go. We took to the rafters and walked slowly out to the parking lot, hoping to take in every bit of A-Trak as possible.
Photo by Greg Chidley
Even though most people were a little suspect towards the decision to move EDC Las Vegas back an entire month, it ended up being the best decision Insomniac could make. The weather was perfect the entire time (albeit a little windy at times) and having music going even longer than before gave attendees an entirely new experience. Not to mention the camping added another layer of convenience, fun, and camaraderie that this festival previously did not seem to need but ended up being quite a great fit. Despite organizational and logistical issues, it was definitely a successful element to the event.
I don’t know how it's possible, but Insomniac has done it again and raised the bar. I used to worry I was too old to keep hitting all night festivals…I was wrong. As long as I’m still standing, I’ll forever enjoy this music and people I get to experience it with.
Written by Asad Chishty & Fadi AbuZaineh