Most Triumphant Return: Marshmello
Whimsical EDM-pop purveyor Marshmello is a perennial EDC Vegas performer. The masked beat marauder’s reputation (and mainstream stature) is bigger than ever in 2018, however, as he has spent the past year hobnobbing with pop and hip-hop royalty, including Migos, Demi Lovato and Logic.
Most Triumphant Return, Part II: Seven Lions
At this point, no EDC Vegas feels complete without an epic, emotional and dynamic set from pop-house aficionado Seven Lions.
Most Ambitious Curation: Green Velvet Presents La La Land
Green Velvet always brings something new and unexpected to his EDC Vegas appearances. This year, it’s his La La Land concept at the Neon Garden stage, where the Chicago legend has curated a globally focused lineup featuring acts like Detlef, Gorgon City and Melé.
Best Sensory Overload: Rell the Soundbender
Rell the Soundbender’s bio notes he considers his sound “where lasers and drums fight to the death.” That’s a pretty accurate representation of the Panama native’s aggressive and DNA-rearranging musical approach, which draws on trap, Moombahton, hip-hop and house.
Top Up-And-Comer: Jace Mek
Jace Mek’s first DJ set came a little over two years ago in Las Vegas—and now, after a couple of Dim Mak-released singles and a steady stream of gigs, the house music deconstructionist is poised for even greater things.
Best Multitasker: Mariana Bo
Mariana Bo draws on classical training to make her booming, in-your-face sets even more unique—in fact, it’s a marvel to watch the Mexican DJ/producer grab her violin and add striking orchestral flourishes above the thumping fray.
Most Reliable: Charlotte de Witte
There’s nothing flashy about the urgent, sinewy sets crafted by Charlotte de Witte, although that’s the point: The Belgian DJ/producer sticks to dark techno with a stinging undercurrent and irresistible dance grooves. Bonus: Look for de Witte’s new four-track EP, The Healer, out June 8.
Best Last-Minute Add: Tiga
Canadian producer/DJ Tiga very quietly snuck into the EDC Vegas lineup in recent weeks, as a last-minute add to Green Velvet’s La La Land Experience. Although the retro-electro act has been in town sporadically in recent years (including a 2016 appearance with Disclosure), he hasn’t performed at the festival since 2013.
Best Party-Starter: Fisher
Fisher is no stranger to EDC Vegas—the LA-by-way-of-Australia DJ performed last year as part of Cut Snake—but has come into his own as a party-starting solo DJ, courtesy of the tech house anthem “Ya Kidding” and the sweltering new jam “Stop It.”
Most Likely to Pay Tribute to Avicii: Martin Garrix
Expect plenty of nods to the late DJ/producer’s music and career—with Dutch DJ Martin Garrix, who co-produced the late superstar’s 2015 smash, “Waiting for Love,” one of the most likely to pay respects to Avicii’s legacy.
Best Scene-Starter: Kittens
Kittens (aka Lauren Abedini) is taking LA by storm, thanks to all-women DJ workshops and a rhythm-heavy musical approach rooted in colorful hip-hop and blocky electro.
Most Worthy Ascendant: DJ KSHMR
There’s a reason Berkeley-born KSHMR—formerly part of The Cataracs, production duo behind “Like a G6”—is lurking near the Top 10 of DJ Mag’s DJ ranking list: His eclectic, energetic sets are dizzying pastiches of electro house, Bollywood music and modern pop.
Best Midwest Import: The Black Madonna
Another late addition to the EDC Vegas lineup thanks to Green Velvet, the Black Madonna is a resident DJ at Chicago’s influential Smart Bar—and a skillful mixer known for her soulful interpolations of disco, techno and classic house grooves.
Best Lowkey grooves: Maceo Plex
Maceo Plex has been honing his subtle brand of deep house and techno for decades now. This experience matters, as the sets spun by the Spain-via-U.S. DJ/producer are minimal, insistent and unique.
Next Big Thing: Kygo
With major-label backing, a new single featuring Miguel (“Remind Me to Forget”) and a U.S. arena tour, expect great things from Norwegian-born dance-pop upstart Kygo both at EDC Vegas—and beyond.
With more than 20 tag-team DJ sets on the EDC lineup, the back-to-back format provides a great chance to see some of your favorites partner up for new flavor. Here are a few that should give your friends who couldn’t get tickets some major FOMO.
12th Planet B2B Kill the Noise
Dubbed the “King of Dubstep” by Spin and the “U.S. Dubstep Godfather” by Mixmag, 12th Planet already packs a powerful punch on his own. He’ll be teaming with longtime collaborator Kill the Noise, winner of two MTV Video Music Awards, for a basstastic experience.
DJ Stephanie B2B Lady Faith
Once again we were disappointed—but sadly, not surprised—by the lack of female representation on the EDC lineup. Still, we were thrilled that one of our favorites, hardstyle maven Lady Faith, is not only playing the fest again, but mixing it up with fierce veteran spinner DJ Stephanie.
Genix B2B Sunny Lax
Fusing tech, trance, progressive, house and electro, a Genix set offers something for almost every electronic taste. The former Guinness World Record holder for longest DJ set (84 hours), will throw down with fellow #TranceFamily favorite Sunny Lax.
ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL May 18-20, $325 GA (sold out), $699 VIP. Las Vegas Motor Speedway, lasvegas.electricdaisycarnival.com. -Deanna Rilling