Audiences either looking to party or attend solely for the music can find an electronic dance music (EDM) festival to suit their needs. From colossal night-long raves that immerse the senses to laid-back, poolside concerts, 2016 provides many opportunities to appreciate music. Past and present members of the Electronic Dance Music Club at UCLA give their insight into this year’s EDM festivals.
Electric Daisy Carnival
Date: June 17 to 19, 2016
Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Nev.
The first Electric Daisy Carnival took place in Los Angeles in 1993, and soon expanded to many other cities across the world. In 2011, the festival moved its flagship to Las Vegas.
The age 18+ event is produced by Insomniac, an EDM tour promoter hosting multiple events throughout the year. True to its name, EDC is a carnival with rides and interactive art pieces.
Andrew Conde, a UCLA alumnus of music history, said EDC is his favorite festival because it is a mecca for EDM fans. EDC is set apart from other EDM music festivals because of its focus on safety, he said. As a member of the Ground Control team for Insomniac in 2015 and 2016, Conde and the team roamed the festival, making sure everyone was hydrated and had the resources to withstand the physical exertion of a three-day rave.
EDC has become more popular and commercialized since it first began, Conde said. Old fans will not enjoy going anymore since it has become so mainstream, with 1.8 million likes on Facebook, he said.
Alumna Jennifer Liu said the concert’s location in Las Vegas can also be a turnoff for those under 21 since most other places in the city are 21+.
Although this year’s EDC finished in June, prospective attendees can wait for Early Owl tickets for next year’s festival in Las Vegas to go on sale in fall, likely towards the end of September.
HARD Summer Music Festival
Date: July 30 and 31, 2016
Location: Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif.
HARD Summer Music Festival is produced by HARD, a national music festival brand owned by Live Nation Entertainment that also hosts HARD Day of the Dead and HARD Haunted Mansion. The 18+ festival series is native to LA, which held the first iteration of the festival in 2007.
Liu recommended HARD Summer for beginner EDM listeners, citing its nearby location and lower cost at $179 plus fees for a two-day general admission pass as attractive features for newbies. She said it used to be her favorite festival because of its consistently great bookings.
When she first attended in 2009, the festival focused more on indie electronic or live performance acts, like Miike Snow or Crystal Castles. Since then, the focus has changed to feature mainly DJ sets or mixing and producing acts, she said.
Coachella and Lightning in a Bottle have become the go-to multi-day festivals for indie lovers, so HARD Summer has moved towards branding itself as the hard festival, she said.
“Their focus is more on that hard sound, like dubstep or bass music,” Liu said.
Date: August 12 to 14, 2016
Location: Riviera Palm Springs and The Saguaro Palm Springs, Palm Springs, Calif.
Splash House is a 21+ event that began in 2013 as an answer to massive raves like EDC. Since 2014, the event has been biannual, with one festival in June and a second in August, usually poolside at multiple hotels in Palm Springs.
“The year I went, it was at three different hotels,” Conde said. “You can kind of hop around and relax pretty much in paradise.”
Splash House is a more intimate experience than larger raves like EDC and Nocturnal, Conde said. The lineup revolves more around SoundCloud sensations rather than mainstream headliners who have already achieved success, like Diplo or Avicii.
Yohanna Khachiyan, a fourth-year psychobiology student, said this year’s lineup features good techno, and Splash House seems less mainstream than EDC or Nocturnal Wonderland.
Date: September 2, 3 and 4, 2016
Location: San Manuel Amphitheater, San Bernardino, Calif.
Like EDC, Nocturnal Wonderland is an 18+ event hosted by Insomniac. Unlike EDC, Nocturnal is “Alice in Wonderland”-themed, and its attendees stay at a nearby campsite rather than in hotels. The festival itself doesn’t begin until 4 p.m.
Nocturnal is easier for Southern California residents to get to since it is in San Bernardino rather than Las Vegas, Khachiyan said. Conde said it is more of a getaway than EDC; with the campsite next to the festival, attendees are able to stay in one place for the entire duration of the festival.
For the past two years, Insomniac has added a water park, which attendees often use for free showers since the campsite charges for them, Khachiyan said.
At EDC, similar to Nocturnal, the creators make sure there is something incredible around every corner, such as interactive art displays, said Ann Nguyen, a rising third-year political science student.
Insomniac-hosted events like Nocturnal Wonderland are more about rave culture than other festivals, such as Coachella, Liu said. Everyone focuses more on “PLUR” – Peace Love Unity Respect – and wearing kandi, bracelets made out of brightly-colored plastic beads, or brightly-colored clothing.
Mad Decent Block Party
Date: October 1, 2016
Location: LA Center Studios, Los Angeles, Calif.
Mad Decent Block Party – placed in multiple cities across the country, including Brooklyn and Dallas – is produced by Mad Decent, the electronic artist Diplo’s record label.
Mad Decent is a different festival than EDC or Nocturnal, with an end time of around 8 or 9 p.m, Nguyen said. This makes it a true day festival with more of a kickback vibe than a night rave, which is one of the reasons Nguyen said it is her favorite festival.
Mad Decent also only has one stage, she said, rather than multiple stages that showcase different genres of EDM simultaneously. She said it focuses on hip-hop and pop acts like Kesha, one of this year’s headliners.
Conde likes the Mad Decent concept of a neighborhood block party, a chill day where people are just having a good time, as opposed to the three-day voyage of EDC, he said. However, he said Mad Decent’s low-key feel prevents the festival from generating the same hype as some other major EDM festivals.
Date: October 1 and 2, 2016
Location: Waterfront Park, San Diego, Calif.
CRSSD Festival is the youngest festival in Southern California with its first event in March 2015.
The festival, produced by music promotion companies Goldenvoice and FNGRS CRSSD, started out including non-EDM performers like The Flaming Lips and TV on the Radio, but has recently become more exclusively focused on EDM.
Liu said at $120 a ticket when she attended in 2015, CRSSD is more affordable than raves like EDC or Nocturnal. It showcases a lot of DJs native to Southern California such as Lee K and Colour Vision, which makes it a draw for attendees who are more interested in the local scene, she said.
Conde has not heard any backlash from anyone about CRSSD since the lineups are well curated. Jason Bentley, a radio DJ and Music Director with KCRW, oversees the lineups, which have included headliners like Empire of the Sun, Odesza, and Chet Faker, Conde said.
CRSSD brings a deeper, darker and more minimal club sound to the beach, which is generally associated with lighter, more hype-y music, he said.
With a tropical feel but a more underground sound, CRSSD has its own identity, as does every other festival, Conde said. What one might see or expect from EDC is completely different from Hard or Mad Decent, and festival goers can decide which identity fits them best.