“The underground is bigger than the mainstream” is the powerful point made by Insomniac’s first ever film The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience. Screening in theatres for one night only on August 4th, director Kevin Kerslake’s well-produced and edited documentary about the 2010 EDC held in Los Angeles shares the same attention to detail and level of quality they put into their events. With a heavy role by LA’s favorite resident DJ, Kaskade, The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience shares many interviews with the event’s artists and is made of pure nostalgic gold. It even pulled off quite a bit of humor with Will.i.am cracking up the audience a few times.
In addition to epic footage of Laidback Luke, Deadmau5, and many others playing before the enormous crowd in the LA Memorial Coliseum, the flick did a splendid job underlining what separates EDC from other massives. The piece gets in touch with some of the stage performers and event creators to talk about their choice of strangely erotic costumes and the carnival rides and art installations that make their event an all-encompassing entertainment experience you won’t find anywhere else. It introduced the people that make it happen like CEO Pasquale Rotella (left), who told his tale of starting out as a promoter handing out flyers to now presently crafting the continent’s biggest music event the way he would like to see it done from the point of view of a dedicated raver. It also explained why they chose to go with a carnival theme with the phrase “We’re all freaks here, so come on and join us”.
My favorite bits of the film came when they addressed a very important question: why does dance music have such universal appeal? With commentary by BT, Kaskade, Will.i.am and others, it went into the communal unity that comes when that large groups of people dance and vibe to the music together. It even offered a brief dip into anthropology, with BT stating the fact that these dance music festivals are modern equivalents of tribal ceremonies with drum circles held around fire pits. To point out another comparison, even the attire is similar to tribal garb with most ravers wearing decorative bracelets (aka kandi), extravagant costumes, or sometimes almost nothing.
With such media bias against raves in the city of angels, it was also great to see an interview with the event’s police captain in the film. He explained how events like EDC are his favorite events to chaperone because of how peaceful they are– especially in comparison to the large sporting events which erupt in car-burning riots and violence against police officers. He admired the fact how over 100,000 people in one location can get along so well.
There aren’t very many documentaries covering EDM, and Insomniac’s did a great job. It was honest, funny, and brought back many beloved memories. To offer some advice for improvement, it it is quite long, stretching over two hours. I feel some of the scenes, including Nigel’s glowing bellybutton demonstration and the backstories of the gogo and break dancers could have been cut out and left as DVD extras. On that note, it would be very wise for Insomniac to stream their film online. A film definitely worth seeing by those new and already familiar with the scene, let’s hope they find a new way to deliver it to the public.