Scheduling conflicts are a necessary evil of any music festival. EDC’s first day has some gnarly ones.
Start out easy with the German progressive house/electro wizard Wippenberg (8-9 p.m., Circuit Grounds), whose track “Pong” is a slow-burning must-hear. Conserve energy by staying at the same stage for a comfort-food DJ set by Vegas hometowners The Crystal Method (9-10 p.m.).
If the next generation is more your speed, check out Kastle (8:30-10:10 p.m., Neon Garden). The Pittsburgh DJ/producer is known for inventive, moody remixes for Kanye West and Sade and original material such as “Better Off Alone,” a kissing cousin to U.K. sensation James Blake. Be sure to squeeze in some time with drum ’n’ bass (dnb) legend Roni Size (9:30-10:30 p.m., Bass Pod), who will perform with Philly DJ Messinian.
Beats Antique (10:10-11:10 p.m., Cosmic Meadow) makes for the perfect next stop; the California group specializes in rhythmically adventurous music that’s inspired as much by slinky belly dancing and world music as Afrobeat and hip-hop. Though it’s tempting to catch Wolfgang Gartner (10:45-11:45 p.m., Kinetic Field), the electro-house phenom also plays Sunday, so consider staying at Cosmic Meadow to stake out a good spot for Röyksopp (11:40 p.m.-12:40 a.m.). The Norwegian group’s ageless electronic sounds balance futuristic whimsy and sympathetic melancholy.
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Then the night gets really tough. Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77 (12:30-1:30 a.m., Neon Garden)—an Italian disco-electro duo augmented by a live drummer and screaming-bloody-murder vocals—will unleash an aggressive death-punk experience. Right after that, there’s a must-see appearance by Richie Hawtin’s minimalist alter-ego, Plastikman (1:15-2:30 a.m., Cosmic Meadow). And performing at the same time? Superstar DJ Tiësto (1-3 a.m., Kinetic Field) and neo-disco sensation Calvin Harris (1:15-3 a.m., Circuit Grounds). Our suggestion? Catch half the Beetroots, the beginning of Tiësto, most of Plastikman and the end of Harris.
London-based sonic subverter Sub Focus (3-4 a.m., Cosmic Meadow) is another must-hear; expect anything from Daft Punky cyberfunk to moving electro-pop. Then hit up back-to-back Neon Garden sets from noted remixer Drop the Lime (3:30-4:30 a.m.) and Technicolor production team Major Lazer (4:30-6 a.m.); both specialize in beat-heavy genre massacres calibrated for dancehalls and discotheques. And if you’re still standing, end the night with old-school German deep house legend Steve Bug (4:15-6 a.m., Cosmic Meadow). Whew!
Night 2 isn’t quite as packed, but there are still enough buzzy acts and must-see legends to create several scheduling snarls.
The soft-glow tech house of globetrotting duo Pleasurekraft (9-10 p.m., Circuit Grounds) should be a perfect night-starting aperitif. French DJ/producer Martin Solveig (9:30-10:45 p.m., Kinetic Field) is another artist worth showing up early to see: His collaborations with Dragonette and Bloc Party frontman Kele represent some of the recent past’s best techno-pop.
If Solveig’s not your style, try the up-and-coming LA trio Glitch Mob (9:30-10:30 p.m., Cosmic Meadow). They’ve remixed Daft Punk and The White Stripes, and boast a live show with jamtronica production values. Stop in to see Atlanta power trio Evol Intent (10:10-10:55 p.m., Bass Pod)—which specializes in harsh, clashing dnb—and Welsh DJ/producer High Contrast (10:55-11:40 p.m., Bass Pod), who attracted an overflow crowd at Coachella on the strength of a reggae-tinged dnb set.
Must-see alert: Chicago house legend Green Velvet (11 p.m.-midnight, Circuit Grounds). EDC probably wouldn’t exist without his innovations and sonic explorations. Anyone dying to see Dutch wunderkind DJ Afrojack at the same time (10:45-midnight, Kinetic Field) can breathe easy: The sizzling pop/hip-hop collaborator also plays Sunday (3-4:30 a.m., Cosmic Grounds).
Tougher conflicts arise beginning with touted Australian electro duo Empire of the Sun (12:30-1:30 a.m., Cosmic Meadow), whose well-choreographed concerts and stage accoutrements bring to mind a high-budget summer blockbuster. LA Riots (1-2 a.m., Neon Garden) provide a solid quotient of club bangers, as does M.I.A. collaborator/dubstep DJ Rusko (1:30-2:30 a.m., Bass Pod). And the time slot’s dark horse might be Berlin-via-Detroit DJ Gaiser (1:30-2:30 a.m., Circuit Grounds). Inspired by Richie Hawtin as a teen, the icy IDM purveyor now wows with militantly precise bleeps and percolating beats.
Speaking of Hawtin, the Detroit techno legend performs under his own name (2:30-4:30 a.m., Circuit Grounds) on Night 2. If you already caught Plastikman on Friday, Above & Beyond (3-4:30 a.m., Kinetic Field) is another good option during this time. The versatile Brits recently started playing with a live band, but have years of remixes and panoramic techno compositions under their belts. And though rocker-turned-laptop-jockey Skrillex (3-4:30 a.m., Neon Garden) is quite the polarizing figure in the land of dubstep, he’s probably worth checking out to see what the fuss is about.
German DJ/producer Boys Noize (4:30-6 a.m., Cosmic Meadow)—known for kinetic remixes with an otherwordly robotic bent—is definitely worth a listen. And there’s no better way to close out the night (morning?) than by dropping by to hear NYC house music staple Victor Calderone (4:30-6 a.m., Circuit Grounds).
EDC must have figured that by Sunday attendees would be ready to explore Las Vegas, catch up on sleep or both. The final night of EDC has the weakest schedule by far.
Pickings appear slim early in the night, although Moguai (8-9 p.m., Circuit Grounds) is a worthy opener. A denizen of Deadmau5’s label, Mau5trap, the German DJ/producer is known for tasteful, subtly building techno and house. Another must-see is an appearance from Bunny, the vocal half of Rabbit in the Moon (9:15-10:15 p.m., Cosmic Meadow), whose solo shows are known for sensory overload.
Consider catching perma-superstar DJ Paul Oakenfold (9:30-11:10 p.m., Kinetic Fields), the patriarch of EDC, what with his lengthy résumé of festival appearances. Not far behind in that regard are veteran house DJ/producer Robbie Rivera (10:20-11:45 p.m., Cosmic Meadow) and trancemaster Ferry Corsten (midnight-1:15 a.m., Circuit Grounds).
Canadian upstart Felix Cartal (11:25 a.m.-12:20 p.m., Neon Garden) approaches electronic music from an indie-punk perspective, while Israel’s Infected Mushroom (midnight-1 a.m., Cosmic Meadow) incorporates buzzsawing psychtronica and trance-induced jam touches into its live sets.
Then it’s back to the big names, starting with mega-production team Swedish House Mafia (1-3 a.m., Kinetic Field). Whether unleashing SHM-branded remixes or originals, the trio expertly paced its sets like a rock concert. Solid alternatives include German trance superstars ATB (1:15-2:30 a.m., Circuit Grounds) and Markus Schulz (2:30-3:45 a.m., Circuit Grounds), and the party electro/hip-pop stylings of A-Trak (1:15-2:45 a.m., Neon Garden).
The previously mentioned Wolfgang Gartner (3-4:15 a.m., Neon Garden) and Afrojack (3-4:30 a.m., Cosmic Meadow) then spin their second sets of the fest. Or you could call it a night with Dutch DJ/producer Laidback Luke (3-4:45 A.M., Kinetic Field), who has worked with pop and hip-hop’s A-list; expect a skyscraping set of impeccable Europop and techno.