Electric Daisy Carnival had my heart from the moment I drove onto the portal, also known as the Las Vegas Motor Speedway that was responsible for taking me to the X-rated Disney Land. Decked in EDC attire and graffiti, lines of cars padded the speedway. The traffic was disturbing, but what did I expect? Over 400,000 people were forcing their way to the same destination.
The speedway offered so much more than the ten stages that make up the festival. Ten!? It immediately established itself as the adult playground for everyone. Every single person was welcoming and friendly, all 400,000 of them; that’s how many attended day three of EDC Las Vegas this year. Bu the traffic…oh, the traffic.
People unfamiliar to the electric dance music scene often scrutinize Electric Daisy Festival for being just a place where burned out DJs play music for even bigger burn outs. But in reality, Electric Daisy Festival is so much more than the pretty lights. It’s a place where cultures from all over the world unite and come to get away from their worries, connect with friends, and create memories that would long out last the weekend spent away. Formerly an outsider to the rave scene, I can assure you that taking a closer look at what the kandi community is all about is worth looking into. ‘Kandi Kid’ usually refers to a rave-goer that wears bright plastic beads and embodies P.L.U.R. (Peace Love Unity Respect), can often be found wearing bright colors, and dancing freely.
The first Electric Daisy Festival was produced by Insomniac Events in 1997 and has since spread to various venues across the United States. In 2011, the inaugural EDC Las Vegas took place and last year, more than 700,000 people attended. The festival’s founder Pasquale Rotella exceeds headliner expectations each year by creating a unique experience, incorporating lighted art exhibits, go-go dancers, skydivers, and carnival rides.
After attending three years in a row and falling deeper in love with the electric sky each time, I decided to expand my knowledge of electronic music culture and make the journey to Electric Forest the following weekend after EDC Las Vegas.
To the outside eye, these festivals might presumably be similar because their titles both say ‘Electric.’ They are probably incorrectly used interchangeably when people ask, “Is that the one with all the drugs and crazy people in weird outfits?”
“Yes, that one.”
But the two EDM fests create two very distinct experiences.
Whereas Electric Daisy Carnival is dead in the middle of Sin City, Electric Forest is located in Rothbury, Michigan, also known as the city that “Always Appears to be Sleeping” mostly due to its location in the middle of nowhere. The bombardment of traffic, horns, and flashiness that seems to seep out of your body the moment you reach the Speedway is hardly comparable to the discreetness of Rothbury. It takes about an hour-long Uber drive from Grand Rapids (where the airport is located) to get to the venue. The entrance of Electric Forest, christened the Good Life Village, was filled with Michigan locals trying to find a camp spot. Whereas Electric Daisy Carnival was crawling with internationals, the Electric Forest crowd appeared to be more from the surrounding area than anywhere else. People were shocked when I said I came all the way from California. Just as nice and friendly as fellow EDC folk, but perhaps a little lower key.
Despite similar names, the genres of music are vastly different at each festival. Electric Daisy solely focuses on electronic dance music and its subgenres that make up EDM. The Electric Forest lineup ranged from hip-hop to EDM to Folk music. If Coachella and Outsidelands had a baby, it would be Electric Forest. You get the younger crowd, who don’t mind camping as much, mixed with the hippie, outdoorsy crowd of Outsidelands. The mix of different styles of music and assorted crowd keeps your senses engaged due to the lack of repetition.
Both festivals are filled with eccentric art installations. Two of my personal favorites were a dragon made up of CDs, located in the heart of the Sherwood Forest in Michigan, and giant teacups that you could climb and sit in at EDC.
The camping aspect of Electric Forest didn’t disturb the overall experience that much. Then again, I opted for the VIP camping experience. The VIP camping allowed me to stay in the Good Life Village with an Electric Avenue Tent; undoubtedly the way to go if you plan on flying in from out of state and want the least set up and hassle as possible. The Electric Avenue Tent comes with a weatherproof Safari-style tent, ready and waiting for you to sleep in. And get this–a real live bed. For an initial VIP camping experience, I am not sure I am able to experience another festival as a General Admission. I never set foot in a Porta Potty, which for larger festivals is one of the biggest complaints with long lines and lack of toilet paper. Another benefit? The happy hour. Each day in the Good Life Village Lounge, adjacent to the VIP viewing area, there were free Tito’s Vodka drinks for two hours. Maybe not free, as they were technically included in the $2,400 I spent on the ticket, but hey, they seemed free at the time. For those seeking even more, The Back 40 offered daily brunch. The Back 40 was the cabin and RV area, reserved for campers coming in RV and rolling a little deeper in dough. While wilderness survival is not my typical idea of fun and I made the pilgrimage alone, my experience at Electric Forest was unforgettable.
If you are some type of crazy and eager to plan the ultimate raving trip—Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas one weekend to Electric Forest in Michigan the next I recommend planning a little further than I did. I recommend staying an extra day in Vegas, devoting it purely to recovery if you plan to be fully prepped for Electric Forest. My body was aching and exhausted by the last day, after four long days of raging at EDC. I paid the price by missing out on all but one of the late night shows offered exclusively to those camping in the Good Life Village.
For a first time, Electric Forest was definitely worth the trip and money spent. I met lovers and friends of all kinds, some of which I hope to remain connected to. Although overall I spent more money on my Electric Forest ticket, it offered the convenience of camping footsteps away from the entrance to the festival, much better food vendors, better souvenir shopping, and two more days of great music. If you have the means, the VIP experience makes the trip a ten times better and more luxurious experience. And, once it comes down to dollar-for-dollar, EDC requires you to book lodging separately, so cost-wise, both trips probably just about even out. Electric Daisy Festival still has my heart, as it was my first experience at an EDM festival, but I will certainly be making my way back to the forest, but this time with my friends and a cabin or RV.
FestPop Staff Writer
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