Review: Electric Daisy Carnival, 6/11/11

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"When the smoke machines ran out, someone -- and by 'someone,' I mean a complete fucking idiot -- blasted the room with a fire extinguisher, sending a sweet poison into the eyes and mouths of everyone."

The Electric Daisy Carnival started off pretty early in the afternoon with opening sets getting started around 3 p.m. The carnival rides that lined the south border of the show were just this side of pathetic, exemplified by the notable lack of a Ferris wheel. I mean, c'mon, how can you call this thing a carnival without a Ferris wheel? Seems blasphemous. Just the same, the rides that were there were vomit-inducing enough to pass, I suppose.

The carnival festivities kicked off with an opening set by Ant-Ten-Nae at the Circuit Grounds stage. His use of unique controllers is cool because his range of musical effects is broader and different than most, but beyond that, there was really nothing that impressive about the set. The problem with these big festivals is that they pack so many great artists on the bill that you end up taking a risk seeing one set versus another. With this in mind, after hearing that I missed LA Riots in favor of Ant-Ten-Nae, I was pretty bummed.

Eliot Lipp brought things up a tad with a live drummer, but the sound at the Circuit Ground stage just wasn't that good. Actually, all of the stages except for the Neon Garden were a bit on the quiet side. Adding a live drummer is becoming more of a regular occurrence these days for DJs, giving their sets more of a live feel. After a bit of Lipp, I moved over into the Bass Pod to catch a bit of Downlink's set, which offered a welcome change of pace from complicated, electro-drum and bass into straight grimy dubstep. Downlink was smooth. He played a couple of new tracks that had been produced specifically for EDC. By chance, I was offered a chance to sit down with Sander Van Doorn minutes before his set in the dressing room. Nothing huge -- the interview was rather last-minute -- but he obliged and gave me a few words on EDC and touring to support his new album Dusk Till Doorn. Here's some excerpts from our chat.

Westword: Is this your first time playing a big show like this in Denver?

Sander Van Doorn: This is my time at a big show like this, but I've played Beta a few times, and I love playing out here.

Did you just get in today?

Yeah! I played Atlanta last night. It was absolutely roasting, but it was great.

Your on tour promoting your upcoming release of "Dusk Till Doorn." How's that going, and what have been some memorable stops for you?

Well, New York was just amazing, and I've got three more stops in Vegas coming up in the next month or so. I really enjoy playing here, Americans are really educated on their music.

All right, looks like the time is coming up, so let's switch it up a bit. What are three things you absolutely cannot tour without?

Oh, man. Let's see: I definitely can't get around without some Red Bull. I've recently switched from CDs to USB drives for all my music, so I can't make it without those. And for the third, clothes. Got to have all my clothes.

And finally, what do you think of dubstep and how popular it's getting?

It's definitely in a category all its own. It's not what I usually implement in my songs, but I've recently thrown in some dubstep-style breaks, and the crowd responds really well. Dubstep in the U.S. is a little different than, say, in the U.K. The U.K. is little bit more laid-back compared to the likes of Skrillex, which is very energetic.

After chatting with Van Doorn, I made my way back over to the Kinetic Field for the end of Kaskade's set. Kaskade is just damn lovely. Most of his tracks feature a sexy voice whispering something about being loved, loving someone or just something really positive. It gave the crowd a much-needed vocal break from the high energy electro-house and provided everyone a moment to throw their hands up for a massive sing-a-long.

Van Doorn was making his way into the Field house for his set as 12th Planet was taking the stage in the Bass Pod. I stuck around Van Doorn's set for about thirty minutes on the front line, taking in all that he was giving out. If his upcoming album is anything like this set, Dusk Till Doorn is going to be pretty hot.

12th Planet may have taken the cake for me on the whole night. After seeing him completely annihilate the stage at Snowball this past February, I was ready for something big. And something big came. Pretty much the only thing that would've made the set more explosive is if a pistol loaded with blanks were fired off every time the bass hit -- though you'd need an unlimited amount of bullets because it's so fast and non-stop. Fact is, 12th Planet knows how to hit 'em up.

A recurring beat sample for the night was the Tetris theme, first heard by me at 12th Planet. Right as the bass dropped into this dirty, long and distorted sample, he came running off the stage and dove into the crowd. This brought the fence separating the general admission from the VIP/media very close, nearly squishing us. Guessing that he looked down and realized there were only petite girls in the small VIP area, most of whom were in no state of mind to be attempting to catch him. Regardless, he surfed, then chugged some Grey Goose and surfed again.

Axwell of Swedish House Mafia sat on deck with air horns ready as Van Doorn was finishing up. I'm unsure of the first song, exactly, but "One" came on, recognizable to everyone who has been to any nightclub in the past year. Sampling the Ting Tings' "Hands" prompted a cheer from everybody, and Axwell's set didn't slow down until he dropped his rendition of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Otherside."

From there, I headed over to see Z-Trip close out the night. Some minor sound issues delayed his set by a few minutes, which allowed me to catch some of Datsik's set, who was just starting to take the stage in the next room over. Nothing could've prepared me for what happened halfway through his set. When the smoke machines ran out, someone -- and by "someone," I mean a complete fucking idiot -- blasted the room with a fire extinguisher, sending a sweet poison into the eyes and mouths of everyone. This brought the music to a screeching halt.

With a bad taste still lingering in my mouth from the Datsik incident, I headed over to catch Z-Trip, who once again showed why he is a master of his trade. The heaviest drop of his set was a mash of Lil Wayne's "A Milli" over Dead Prez, and from there, it was chaos. He threw gangster rap over smooth cuts while teasing everyone's passion for dubstep, which he found a way to incorporate into his set. If you've seen Z-Trip once, you can probably quote everything he's going to say during his set, which ranges from "Let me see your hands" to "You're gonna have to give me more than that if you want to go all night." I swear I've got a bootleg from one of his sets in Vail at 8150 where he says the same things, verbatim.

I never know what to expect music-wise from a Z-Trip set, but I've never been disappointed. And this time was no exception. I found my way out of Z-Trip's party and back over to the Kinetic Field where Ferry Corsten was closing out the night. In hindsight, I wish I'd stayed at Z-Trip. He doesn't stop until he's forced to, and the music he picks is always spot-on.


Personal Bias: Z-Trip is always available on my iPod. I tuned in to 12th Planet, and he was certainly one of most energetic of the night. By the Way: The sound production was pretty awful. Put it this way, you could carry on a conversation at normal levels at the sound booth in the main tent and still be heard. Random Detail: It was a carnival, but there were no actual carnies, which is nice.

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