It’s Friday night and I’m waiting to meet Afrojack in his trailer at the Speedway. In the meantime, I check out Modestep—a London-based band that sounds most like dubstep: drums + electric guitar + crazy vocals. They play a killer remix of “Sandstorm” and mash it with a Nintendo-like remix. The lead singer screams, “I want to see you all go fucking mental!” The first mosh pit of EDC hatches at 8:13 p.m.
As the sun dips, an airplane flies overhead with an LED message stretching wing to wing. I can't read it, but I like it the idea. (I see it again a few hours later touting Will.i.Am’s new single. Meh.).
While I wait for Afrojack’s people, Kill the Noise takes stage. The hip-hop set is all rockin’ Diamond apparel, a brand that has been steady growing towards massive. Diamond was the quintessential underground streetwear brand, but now it’s becoming popular. Dubstep is in a similar position and so is EDM overall. How does an underground art form gain mass-market adoption and still remain relevant?
It’s 8:33 p.m. and some girl in pink boots is barfing.
Afrojack’s team grabs me and brings me back to his trailer. He’s preparing his set on iTunes while Shermanology and R3hab chill in his trailer. He asks me what I've been up to and I tell him about my new DJ gig Mondays in the Marquee Library. He gives me some dope advice ... that’s coming soon.
I leave his trailer and go check out Junior Sanchez and Cece Pennington. His hard beats and her airy vocals juxtapose nicely. The crowd is representing hard with T’s reppin’ “Legalize gay” and “gay ok.”
Red Bull Zero is delish. I see a large older dude getting emergency carted off. Poor guy.
I cruise over to Max Vangeli and AN21 in the Cosmic Meadow. It’s a dope scene: The dancefloor fills up with hand-pumpers as the chill set lays out in the Meadow. That’s not the smell of cigarettes; people definitely snuck in some contraband. AN21 drops it and the dancefloor goes nuts. Their chemistry is sick, like synchronized spinners, bobbing and hand pumping with perfect timing.
I pop over to Gabriel & Dresden’s set, rad trancy house, complete with a giant LED hula hoop dancer dude. Sebastian Ingrosso’s set is briefly interrupted by a neon marching band, and the main stage is a madhouse. Seb plays “Miami 2 Ibiza” and mixes it into “Walking Alone” into “Greyhound” into Fedde Le Grand’s “Paradise” remix. He winds down with Axwell’s “In My Mind” as his fans melt.
Alesso’s team invites me backstage for an interview. I see the Nervo twins—Australian model-sisters turned producers and maybe the sexiest thing in house music. Alesso is chain smoking like a chimney. He tries to go on stage and is briefly stopped by security, but he makes it in moments later.
During the Afrojack set, fans throw glow sticks like confetti. Afrojack screams, “I wouldn't rather be anywhere else in the world right now!" as fans lose their voices in agreement. "Did you like my motherf*ckin’ intro?” Afrojack continues. “I just flew in on a helicopter. Are you motherf*ckers ready for some new shit?”
He plays some new new, but the crowd doesn’t go nuts until he cranks up “Take Over Control.” He turns the music down and everyone sings the lyrics in unison.
I slip over to Sebastian Ingrosso as the crowd is going crazy for "One," which Seb mixes with Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.” It’s truly epic. Then Sebastian Saves the World. He's singing along, really enjoying the moment. So are his adoring fans. Fans mount shoulders as security tries flash-lighting them down, to no avail.
Why does it smell like weed every time the pyrotechnics hit? These covert cannabists have impressive timing.
I cruise backstage to meet up with Alesso mid-Seb set. Dude is so raw. (Interview coming soon.) Highlight: He’s repeatedly dismissed rumors about joining the Swedish House Mafia so I ask him how he’d build SHM No. 2, his own dream team. Seb, Avicii and Axwell, he says. Anyone else want to see that?
Someone hot boxed the VIP Porta Potty. Awesome.
During the Kaskade set, skydivers descend amidst impressive pyrotechnics. Holly Madison walks by with full entourage including a half-dozen cameramen.
I reach into my pocket for some chapstick and two girls beg me for some, “OMG we need some of that!” I’m grossed out, but smear some on the back of their hands.
I depart as the fireworks ignite with thunderous echoes off the grandstands. Electric indeed. Some drunk A-hole tries to buy my wristband off me. Sorry man, I’m just getting started.