Updated May 21, 2022 - 3:08 pm
It’s 9:05 p.m., all aboard the pirate party ship with the massive owl head keeping watch over all the gyrating bodies, as owls are known to do.
The vessel is surrounded by art installation spires belching flames into the night like a bunch of dragons battling acid reflux.
The air is cologned with the scent of kerosene.
As if on cue, a dude walks by carrying a flag that reads “No weenies allowed.”
Welcome to opening hours of the Electric Daisy Carnival.
Take a deep breath.
Exhale on Monday.
“It’s only Friday,” a dreadlocked MC bellows atop the Forrest House art car two hours earlier, before the sun had even set and EDC had fully opened its grounds, a woman in pink alien pasties and matching wig dancing in the grass before him in the Las Vegas Motor Speedway infield. “We got three days to do this.”
It was hard to tell if his words were intended as a boast, a warning or a provocation.
Truthfully, they felt like a little bit of all three.
72-hour party people
How to best characterize the EDC experience?
Well, it’s akin to being swallowed by a rainbow, marinating in its innards for eight-to-10 hours or so, and then getting rudely coughed up and spat back into reality come sun-up.
Fans make large, homemade totem poles in order to locate their friends among EDC’s massive crowds — our favorite on Friday referenced the Johnny Depp trial. “Who pooped the bed?” it read on the front. “Amber Heard made the turd,” it said on back. But make no mistake, the whole point here is to get lost — lost in an alternate universe of light and sound and bumper cars and banana costumes, where even the dogs here come to party (Yes, of course, there was a canine in the audience, sporting a tie-dye shirt and glowing necklaces, naturally).
The vibe is that of a family reunion-meets-bachelor/bachelorette party with a Red Bull blood transfusion.
“I need you to look at the person next to you and feel their energy,” commanded DJ-producer Uniiqu3 early in the evening on the CosmicMEADOW stage.
How does said energy register?
Jab a fork into the nearest electrical outlet and get a taste.
Dreams and Nghtmres
Yes, music is ostensibly the main draw here, but EDC doesn’t really feel like a concert — nor is it meant to. Instead, it’s more like a continual, dusk-‘til-dawn indulging of the senses where music is but one spoke on this wildly spinning wheel.
EDC has grown to encompass nine different stages, six of which were newly re-designed for 2022, many of them catering to specific types of electronic dance music — including the new Bionic Jungle, a flora-enhanced area where Carl Craig excavated the roots of house on Friday.
Speaking of old school — as in non-digital means of making music — instrumental duo Big Gigantic brought live drums and saxophone to the cosmicMEADOW stage via Gigantic Nghtmre, their feisty collaboration with L.A. DJ-producer Nghtmre, which prefaced a DJ set from NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’ Neal, performing as Diesel, who favored beats as big as his size 22 shoes.
For those who prefer sounds that approximate the sensation of getting one’s head slammed in a car door, there was the revamped bassPOD stage, designed to look like a futuristic power plant or something of that nature, all shiny steel fixings and relentless rhythmic pummel.
“I’m dreaming, I’m dreaming,” a female vocalist chimed in song during one of the cuts from G Jones’ set at the bassPOD. “Dreams become reality.”
Yeah, but wasn’t reality the thing we were trying to escape here?
Catching some feelings
“Are you ready to see some people fall in love?”
So wondered “Sensual” Samuel Simmons, the I-wear-my-sunglasses-at-night host of the Up To Date dating show, a new attraction at EDC this year.
Simmons introduced a 24-year-old fellow named Arturo, who was vying for the affection of three ladies seated nearby, one of whom would confess to once getting so drunk at Disneyland that she vomited in front of a bunch of kids.
It was a fitting memory for her to share given the context: from that amusement park to this adult version of one, EDC is posited on taking things to their limits — and maybe just a tad further, from time to time.
To wit, just a few steps away, there was the Chapel of Nature, one of two spots to get married at EDC — there’s also the Commitment Deck, where you can exchange non-committal vows with strangers.
On Friday, a couple was renewing their actual vows, she in a veil adorned with rainbow-colored lights, he sporting a backpack that looked like it was filled with illuminated walrus tusks.
“Do you promise to take care of her, even when she parties too hard?” the wedding officiant asked.
“We all party a little too hard,” she noted.
Who here couldn’t say “I do” to that?
Contact Jason Bracelin at email@example.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @jbracelin76 on Instagram
Check out images from the first night here: EDC 2022 kicks off in Las Vegas — PHOTOS.