[FESTIVAL COVERAGE] Electric Daisy Carnival: Chicago 2013
Electric Daisy Carnival: it seems like not a week goes by without the name being mentioned in the news for one thing or another. And while their first stint in Chicago brought grey clouds of both media attention and cold, wet skies, those of us who weathered the storm came through with nothing but great memories, new friends, and perhaps a little bit of muddied clothing.
The name EDC: Chicago is a bit of a misnomer as the event took place more than 40 miles outside of the city on the sprawling Chicago Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. With no less than 5 stages and 150+ acts spinning throughout the weekend, there was no shortage of activities and sounds to keep festival goers occupied. Having been told from festival officials that the particular layout of the Chicago Speedway allowed for the best acoustics they have heard from their speakers made our group even more excited to dance the nights away to some of the best DJs and producers in the world.
Gabriel & Dresden
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If you asked someone to sum up Electric Daisy Carnival: Chicago in three words, you would most likely hear the following three words: cold, wet, and awesome. Day 1 started out chilly. Chicago, always with impeccable timing when it comes to it’s weather (note my sarcasm), decided to throw us a curve ball for Memorial Day Weekend, dropping the temperatures down into the 40’s for what is traditionally a beautiful weekend. So we dressed appropriately, which is more than I can say for most of the crowd who turned up ready to rage in little more than tank tops and tutus.
Our first artists of the weekend came courtesy of the Wide Awake Art Car, where a handful of local Chicago talent had found their way on the schedule and were whole-heartedly in the middle of a party when we arrived. Spinning to an eager crowd were names like Animale, Dani Deahl, Jordan V, and Kalendr, the latter two playing a combined deep house set that we grooved out to before making our way to the main stage for Feed Me. With the word out that the young producer is done making music under the Feed Me name, it only felt right to catch one of his last sets. With the sun setting and temperatures dropping, Feed Me brought the heat with bangers such as “One Click Headshot,” “Relocation,” and his remix of “Love Is All I Got.”
The next couple hours was a haze of different genres of music and lights as we ping ponged from one stage to the next in the hopes of trying to catch as many artists as we could. Making our way to the second main stage, Circuit Grounds, we found ourselves onstage with Oakland duo Gabriel & Dresden, who rocked a fantastic set that included some sexy go-go dancers jamming out to re-edits of Sia’s “Breathe Me,” Jochen Miller’s “Brace Yourself,” and their original mix “Tracking Treasure Down” featuring Molly Bancroft (Check out his full EDC: Chicago set in our Quick Mix section here). A quick sprint over to the massive Kinetic Field on the other side of the venue brought us to the always fun, and slightly quirky, atmosphere of Martin Solveig. And while we couldn’t stay for much of his set, we managed to catch his brand new track “Hey Now,” Knife Party’s “Power Glove,” and Calvin Harris & Nicky Romero’s “Iron.” (Catch his full set from EDC in our Quick Mix section here.)
The two best sets of the night came back to back, again on the opposite side of the festival, at the Circuit Grounds. With a mind blowing and visually stunning performance, Empire Of The Sun took the stage. At first the group might seem like a misprint as the only band in an all DJ lineup, but once you see their balloon clad dancers and highly stylized costumes, all thoughts go out the window and onto their brilliant performance. Between at least 6 costume changes for the dancers, giant pink guitars, rainbow shattering lights, and their long list of crowd favorites, this was one act you did not want to miss at EDC. While the audience swayed to singles such as “We Are The People,” and “Walking On A Dream,” the band rocked out on stage, closing with their massive new single “Alive.” But by far the most energetic, and loudest, set of the night came from Above and Beyond, whose bass was so loud we had a hard time keeping our camera straight to shoot them. With the lights turned down halfway through their set, a massive fireworks show took place encircling the Speedway while bangers like “Home” and “Good For Me” thumped on. If you had been in zombie mode at this point, there was no way you weren’t awake afterward.
Kaskade finished the night back on the main stage with an hour and a half long set that included smoke, fire, and the ever popular confetti canons. From those that have seen him before, the set seemed a bit too familiar. But those hearing him live for the first time were treated to a grand set that cranked through tunes like Dada Life’s remix of “Love,” “Turn It Down” featuring Rebecca and Fiona, and the crowd pleasing “No One Knows Who We Are” that played alongside it’s video counterpart about a robot attack/invasion. By the time Kaskade closed with “Eyes,” we were beat and decided to call it a night while the late night crowd began streaming in for the hardstyle sounds of HeadHunterz.
Empire of the Sun
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In spite of the temperatures still falling to mid forty degree lows late night Saturday, the festival saw a slightly larger turn out than Friday with crowds flocking to energetic progressive house sets by Cazzette, rising star Dutch duo W&W, Hardwell, and Fedde Le Grand, amongst others, at the Circuit Grounds stage. While Cazzette didn’t have to wait to play their massive hit “Beam Me Up” for anyone to feel like they were going to teleport to the moon at any moment it was W&W’s massive hits such as “The Code,” “D#Fat (with Armin van Buuren),” “ID (with Hardwell),” and “Thunder” that brought the crowds into a frenzy! It’s worth noting that the duo’s sound composed of a mix of progressive and tech house with a touch of trance could not only be heard in their own set, but pretty much in every other set at the festival during the entire weekend.
Chicago’s very own Inphinity kicked things off on the Kinetic Field showcasing his talent by playing big room mid-tempo house perfect for building the mood for the huge parade of house and trance stars after him (Check out his EDC set in our Quick Mix section here). Post plenty of positive vibes from British up and comer Ben Gold and the upbeat sounds of Italian EDX, Hard Rock Sofa brought things hard by keeping the energy going non-stop with 2012 and 2013’s top progressive house hits, including their own popular tracks such as “Quasar,” “Rasputin,” and “Collapsar (with Dirty Shade).” Later on, Chicago’s legendary Bad Boy Bill kept the energy going so well that by the time Deniz Koyu replaced him an hour before midnight, hardly anyone noticed. In spite of technical difficulties and screens continuing to flash his predecessor’s name, Deniz seemed unphased and had the crowd jumping with his massive productions “Bong” and “Tung,” amongst others.
Past midnight, things got even more exciting as Mat Zo brought the crowd to new highs with his euphoric blend of progressive house and trance anthems while Ferry Corsten let things rip even further by playing his own hard brand of house, trance, and electro. Not only did he play his own huge anthems such as “Punk” and “Rock Your Body Rock,” but he also showed off his combined production talents by dropping brand-new music by New World Punx, his collaboration with trance superstar, Markus Schulz (who entertained crowds late night on Sunday at the Circuit Grounds stage).
The night came to a close with a two-hour set by another huge Dutch talent, Armin van Buuren, who not only brought the crowds into near-hysteria levels of (peaceful) rage, but also easily proved why he deserves and has retrained the crown of the world’s number one DJ/proudcer. Chatting the crowd up numerous times in between his own hits and remixes off of his successful 2013 release “Intense” including “Waiting For The Night,” “Alone,” and “Who’s Afraid of 138,” and current trancey reworks of hits such as Hardwell’s “Apollo,” he kept the crowd constantly entertained with stunning visuals composed of clips from his own music videos and those of his own vocalists, such as the very talented Lauren Evans, Laura Jansen or British chanteuse Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
A very pleasant and welcome surprise came quite early (just six songs into the set) in the form of singer Trevor Guthrie who sang the vocals to the extremely popular “This Is What It Feels Like” as remixed by W&W while giving props to the maestro with plenty of charisma. It didn’t take long for him to have the entire crowd singing along to the sad and moving lyrics of one of the year’s biggest EDM hits, so far. What keeps Armin constantly at the top of world’s extremely competitive electronic music scene is his keen ability to constantly inspire positive emotions while providing entertainment with a never-ending uplifting message. His performance at EDC Chicago was no exception as, no doubt, he’s left every attendee more than satisfied and with a huge smile on their face-something that cannot be easily said about just anyone. This was definitely not one to miss and most definitely one of the biggest highlights of the festival.
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Wetness was the theme of Sunday night’s electric festivities. But instead of holding festival goers back, it only hardened their determination to have a good time and not a single attendee was dry by the end of the night – by way of rain or sweat. Luckily, the temperatures had warmed up just enough to not give every festival goer hypothermia. And while we arrived a little later Sunday night, we made it into the festival grounds just in time for the rainfall at the onset of Borgore’s set. So unfortunately we didn’t stay for much of that as we wanted to stay dry as long as possible, which turned out to be a futile attempt as we were pretty soaked through an hour later when Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano took the main stage with tracks like Tristan Garner & Gregori Klosman’s “Bounce” and The Aston Shuffle & Tommy Trash’s “Sunrise.” However, it wasn’t until Eric Prydz stepped on the main stage that my night really began with back-to-back performances from Eric, Tiesto, Sander Van Doorn, and Sebastian Ingrosso closing out the night. It’s odd to think of Eric Prydz and Tiesto as openers, but there sets were anything but as Prydz ran through an insanely hyped set that included fan favorites such as “Personal Jesus,” “Everyday,” and “Mirage.”
Dutch EDM veteran Tiesto took the decks next in one of the only partially dry sets of the night as the rain momentarily paid it’s respect to the world renowned DJ. Known for his big-room, anthemic melodies and massive house beats, Tiesto had the crowd at his fingertips as he spun his way from hits like “Take Me” and “Hell Yeah” early on in his set to the massive remixes of Bingo Players'”Buzzcut” and Zedd’s “Clarity” toward the end of the 1.5 hour long set.
By this time, everyone had been on their feet, bodies jerking in orientation to the driving beats, for hours. But it’s as if the crowd had just woken up from a peaceful night’s rest when Dutch DJ Sander Van Doorn took the stage, paying a small tribute to his predecessor with Tiesto’s “Chasing Summers” in his opening tracks. While Sander stayed fairly quiet on the mic, his set was anything but which included massive anthemic remixes of Krewella’s “Alive,” Knife Party’s “LRAD,” Nicola Fasano & Steve Forest’s “I Am Home,” and the crowd favorite original mix “Chasin’.”
Closing out the night was one-third of the now infamous Swedish House Mafia, Sebastian Ingrosso. Fresh off his world tour with SHM, Sebastian had some big expectations to fill as the final festival closer. And he did not disappoint as we found it near impossible to start walking toward the car even 10 minutes before the end of his set to save ourselves from the annexation of Chicago Speedway. And while EDC had promised to drop the noise level of the stages by 33% due to noise complaints from neighbors as far as 15 miles away, by the end of the night I think the festival promoters just said “Fuck it,” and resumed volume at normal, eardrum bursting levels. With the volume nearing the redline, Ingrosso ripped through a mass of electro-house tracks that started with “Greyhound” and continued on to include a vocal version of “Reload” (which was a huge hit at the festival, claiming spots in multiple other sets), “Calling (Lose My Mind),” and “Antidote.”
Among the final tracks in his closing set was “Don’t You Worry Child,” which you might think is a little cliche, but as our small group of EDM media men made our way back to the car in the middle of a grassy Joliet field, it seemed like the proper send off for a safe, loud, and massively fun Electric Daisy Carnival: Chicago.