The Swedish House Mafia. PHOTO: Drew Ressler

The Swedish House Mafia, and the 185,000 waiting to be made. PHOTO: Drew Ressler

With over 185,000 kids, 6 massive stages, 90+ acts and downtown LA serving as the backdrop, the 14th annual EDC Festival has grown to become the largest music event in the world. Starting with less than 5,000 people packed into the Shrine Auditorium, the festival has now evolved into an experience that’s at the same time both difficult to nail down and describe, yet too compelling to keep from sharing with everyone who will listen. World-class DJs and Livetronica acts, countless surprise guests, a 24-hour mentality and refreshingly positive community vibe surround the perennial circus, offering both an outlet to let loose your inner demons and a soulful recharge for all looking to escape the daily measure. But truthfully, all these buzz words and rhetoric are kind of beside the point… Incomparable in its energy and breadth, the EDC Festival has finally come to rank amongst the best.

Did we mention there were 185,000 people here? God Damn... PHOTO: AH

Did we mention there were 185,000 people here? God Damn... PHOTO: AH

Spread throughout the massive LA Coliseum complex (conveniently located right by the USC Campus and relating parking garages—best 8-dollar dirtbag hotel room in the land…), the six epilepsy-inducing light stages saw over 90 world-class DJs and Livetronica acts over the weekend, including several unique collaborations and last-minute surprises. Some of the highlights included the otherworldly physical pull of the Swedish House Mafia, the progressively mainstream (and universally lauded) Kaskade, the trance-holes of Laidback Luke and the masterful Benny Benassi (which also included Crunk God Lil’ Jon coming on for a cameo fresstyle set), Will.I.Am proving us all wrong by delivering on his party DJ roots, the live prog-tech of Infected Mushroom (worst name for a great band, ever…),  and the 3-hour, mind-changing DJ performance by the vegan-passive himself, Moby. It’s almost sadly rare to be taken aback in the music world these days, but the complete control Moby held over some 80,000 kids at his stage Friday night was, for lack of a better word, incredible. Since the festival ended, a lot has been made about how few negative encounters people had—especially taking into account such a large mass of young people in such a gas-meets-matches location and event. It’s impossible to ever know why this was the case, but the caliber and possessive-nature of the music showcased may have played the necessary role.

Lil' Jon, igniting the night with Benny Bennassi. PHOTO: AH

Lil' Jon, igniting the night with Benny Benassi. PHOTO: AH

There are many massive youth gatherings throughout the world, each with their own vibe, flavor, names and attractions. For such a small, homegrown event to come into its own on a national and even global scale is inspiring—especially considering how off-the-mainstream these particular attractions really are. Outside of Moby or Will.I.Am, many have never heard of people like A-Trak, Z-Trip, Benny Bennassi, Armin VanBuren, Daedalus, DeadMau5, etc. But regardless of their airtime on US radio, these acts have become some of the most well-known performers in the world—many are tabloid superstars in Europe and something of gods throughout the global underground music scene. To have them all come together in this fashion—with almost 200,000 kids responding to the completely unpublicized call—is a definite moment in time. What’s rad is to know is that of all people, our culture is one of the few to have turned on and gotten it. Check the films coming out in snowboarding, skate, MX, BMX, Surf, Wake, etc this year, and take a look at the track listings after the credits. Chances are, some of these names won’t be too unfamiliar, after all.

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Moby, closing out the night and about to run off to his trailer to eat the baby deer he killed with his own blood-covered hands just hours before. PHOTO: AH

If nothing else? Jesus Christ; this is the best freakin’ people-watching venue on the planet. Trust me on this one: bring a camera, and keep it on you and ready at all times. You don’t want to miss this shit…

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Case in point. Nothing says, "I hate you, Dad" like this. Amazing. PHOTOS: AH

For more on the EDC Music Festival, check them HERE.

For a photo gallery from the event, click below to head on…
~AH