By Andrea Domanick
Saturday night at the 2012 Electric Daisy Carnival was anticipated by many to be the most eventful of the three-day festival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but few could have predicted that it would be the result of extreme weather conditions.
After increasingly strong winds that started around 8 p.m., the festival was temporarily shut down around 1 a.m. with an estimated 115,000 fans evacuated to the speedway’s bleachers as gales reached 30 mph throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
“This is for your safety, this is a temporary situation. The music will continue as soon as the wind does,” offered an announcement from the venue-wide PA system. Crowds were asked to keep at least 100 feet from the stage.
According to festival security, the situation came as a preventive measure to avoid any risk posed to the integrity of the festival’s seven temporary stages. Last year, a music stage in Indiana at the Indiana State Fair collapsed amid high winds, killing five and injuring dozens of others.
Despite the setback, fans made their exodus to the grand stand in a calm and patient fashion, though many were nonetheless frustrated to have the sets of the evening’s headliners like Scottish DJ Calvin Harris cut off. At one point, the crowd herded into the north end of the stands began chanting “refund.”
“I’m just glad they’re making sure we’re safe,” said Las Vegas resident Amy Messmann, who also attended last year’s festival. “Everyone here knows it’s for their own safety. They’re here for a good time, and they know being rowdy or violent isn’t going to turn the music on faster.”
At 1 a.m., Don Chareunsy, the Sun’s arts and entertainment editor, began the trek home with two friends after standing in the entrance line at LVMS for about an hour. “The line was moving, but then it stopped for about 20 to 25 minutes. Nobody was being let inside, then people were emerging from the speedway saying that EDC was closed for the night.
“Naturally, people were upset and disappointed -- the festivalgoer who didn’t even make it past the ID check lines with his blown-up green alien looked especially sad -- but you can’t control Mother Nature. It was really windy and a little cold for Las Vegas.”
When Chareunsy (who, full disclosure, is my supervisor) dropped off his friends at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, shuttles were still departing the casino resort for EDC.
At 1:50 a.m., attendees were cleared to return to the venue, but winds picked up again, and half an hour later, performers still had yet to return to the stages.
At 2:10 a.m., Insomniac released the following statement: “With approximately 90,000 fans who have cleared the turnstiles as of 1 a.m. tonight, Insomniac, the producer of Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas asked fans to calmly head to the stands of Las Vegas Motor Speedway as high winds posed a possible threat to fan safety.
“At approximately 1 a.m., Insomniac, in conjunction with public safety officials, made the decision to temporarily halt the show while an evaluation on wind conditions was made.
“Fan safety is Insomniac’s highest priority. We cannot control Mother Nature, and we are taking every precaution while high winds continue and have cleared the stage areas temporarily as a preventative measure,” said Pasquale Rotella, the founder and CEO of Insomniac. “We are asking fans to be patient inside and outside the venue while we evaluate the weather conditions.”
“As winds are being assessed, a final decision on the status of the production is pending.”
Overheard on the security radio at 2:30 a.m.: The fire marshal was shutting down the festival for the rest of the night. Traffic reports showed a high volume of attendees leaving around the same time.
By 2:45 a.m., Metro officers onsite were confirming that the fire marshal had shut down all performances and rides at the festival as the enormous Circuit Grounds stage suffered damage, and winds were expected to remain around 30 mph until 5 a.m.
However, attendees weren’t yet being kicked out and were welcome to remain at LVMS. As of now, the festival will continue with today’s events as planned beginning at 7 p.m.
At 3:06 a.m., festivalgoers were told to exit LVMS.
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