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Robot hands, sky divers and Tiesto: Here are 10 of EDC’s most memorable moments

Updated October 22, 2021 - 12:14 pm

Ten years, millions of fans, and at least that many memories: A decade ago, Electric Daisy Carnival first touched down in Las Vegas in a cocoon of light and sound.

The world’s largest dance music festival, EDC now draws nearly half a million fans annually.

That’s a lot of fuzzy boots, brother.

We’ve literally spent hundreds of hours taking it all in. Here are 10 particularly memorable moments since EDC relocated to Las Vegas Motor Speedway from its native Los Angeles in 2011.

The sax man cometh

Because it’s not a party — not ever, ever, ever — until Kenny G’s in the house.

That’s right, the curly coiffed sax man is the living, breathing, horn-tootin’ embodiment of a good time. And that’s what was had by all when Kenny G appeared with Ookay on the keytar-wielding DJ-producer’s hit “Thief” in 2018.

Go ahead, name a better EDC guest spot.

Drake with Metro Boomin in 2017?


John Legend with Tiesto in 2016?

Double please.

Walter White with Above & Beyond in 2015?

Wait, what?

Yeah, we’re talking about that Walter White

“Say my name!” he demanded, bellowing one of his character’s signature phrases in a tone suggestive of a disgruntled orc.

“Walter White!” the crowd howled.

“You’re (expletive) right,” Bryan Cranston said with a nod of approval.

And with that, the “Breaking Bad” star windmilled his arm down and hit play, launching British trance trio Above & Beyond’s 2015 EDC set with the song named after said character.

Somewhere, Jesse Pinkman stewed with envy.

Dig the totems

Totems are homemade signs affixed to long poles that groups of friends use to locate one another in the crowd. Every year, fans get increasingly inventive when creating them.

Here are our favorites from 2017:

1. “My probation officer doesn’t know I’m here”

It’s funny because it’s true.

2. “Krusty Krab unfair”

Clearly time for SpongeBob and Squidward to unionize.

3. “I love drum and bass”

The ‘d’ and ‘b’ were X’d out.

4. “Ground control swiped my weed”

Was that why security was so chill?

5. Tiger Woods’ mug shot

No words were necessary.

The ‘Hand of Man’

On a Saturday night in June two years ago, we smashed a full-sized car with a giant robot fist.

Yes, there is always an abundance of gnarly art installation pieces at EDC.

During the weekend in question, for instance, there were 80-foot-tall, flower-adorned towers that belched flames, tree-looking sculptures that belched flames, flames that belched flames, etc.

But undoubtedly the coolest attraction that year — or arguably any other — was “The Hand of Man,” a massive robo mitt with which you picked up a junkyard wreck and further destroyed it.

Here’s how it worked: You sat down on a hydraulic platform, slid your pathetic human hand into a metal glove contraption that controlled the awesome robot hand, slowly maneuvered the hand down, flicked back the wrist to lift up the soon-to-be-flattened car, then dropped the sucker in an intensely satisfactory whoosh.

And then it was time for a big giant metal-handed high-five for us.

Drew Carey’s bad trip

“It was, like, insane, this place,” Drew Carey begins.

He’s talking about EDC.

“All my friends there are all doing drugs — except me, because I’m the host of ‘The Price is Right,’ ” Carey remembers with a wink, followed by a hearty, knowing laugh, as he recounts his EDC adventures one year in a hilarious segment that aired on Comedy Central’s “This Is Not Happening” series — Google it. This is a family publication; we can’t supply the link.

Carey then recalls his “friend” taking a number of mind-altering substances and having a mental breakdown involving “Dancing With the Stars” cast members, The Eagles and some frightened tourists.

“Oh man, I think I broke my brain,” his friend confesses the next morning.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (with laughter), you’ll relate, maybe.

Skydiving into EDC

On the EDC grounds, there’s such a smorgasbord of spectacle for eyeballs to gorge upon that you can be pardoned for not looking up. But there’s always something going on in the “Electric Sky” above EDC. Of course, there’s the nightly fireworks display, which is like the Fourth of July set to a spinal-cord-liquefying beat.

And, in 2011, during EDC’s first year in Vegas, the Red Bull Air Force skydived into the speedway.

Of course, they shot 25-foot flames from their feet. “Hopefully, we blow people’s minds,” one of the skydivers said in a video clip taped before their jump.

Mission accomplished, guy.

DJ Khaled’s meltdown

The trains always run on time at EDC. This is one of the best things about the event: For a fest that features hundreds of performances every year, things run like clockwork — we’re talking atomic clockwork.

Here’s how it works: If you’re late to the stage, it comes out of your set time. No exceptions. So don’t be late.

And few acts ever are — and then there was hip-hop super-producer DJ Khaled in 2017.

Though there’s been plenty of debate since about why Khaled was tardy, with the rap hit-maker later citing technical issues, which EDC also contended in a subsequent news release, it was a mess when it all went down.

Khaled came out 30 minutes late to the Cosmic Meadow stage, and after the very first song, the sound cut out, which took another 20 minutes to fix, leaving him just 10 minutes to perform — to his clear agitation. (“Don’t disrespect my set like that!” he barked at the sound guys.) Khaled opened the show with one of his biggest hits, “All I Do Is Win,” but he took an L on this night.

The wild weather

Oh, to be the shirtless fellow in hot pants during the final night of EDC 2019 — yes, such a man was in the crowd. It was full-on winter coat weather, cold enough to turn vodka Red Bulls into slush.

OK, maybe temperatures weren’t quite that low, but it certainly felt like it during one of the fest’s coldest, windiest nights ever.

Wind occasionally wreaks havoc at EDC. It closed the Kinetic Field stage late on Saturday night in 2019. And on a Saturday night seven years earlier, it led to the entire fest being shut down … almost.

In one of EDC’s coolest-ever moments — literally and figuratively — Steve Aoki performed an impromptu set just before dawn in the grass near the Cosmic Meadow stage when all the official stages were closed because of the harsh weather. That didn’t stop Aoki from stage diving and riding an inflatable raft upon the outstretched arms of the crowd that remained.

Somehow, the man put on a show even when the show was technically stopped.

Kaskade commandeers an art cart

Everyone knows the art cars at EDC — they’re hard to miss, these massive, motorized party platforms designed as pirate ships and giant boom boxes and such. Various DJs perform on them; fans can sometimes clamber aboard.

In 2017, though, superstar DJ-producer Kaskade took things up a notch — or five — by showing up unannounced and performing a surprise set on the Kalliope art car.

To put things in perspective, Kaskade is the kind of household-name EDM headliner who normally performs on the massive Kinetic Fields stage in front of tens of thousands of fans.

And it all went down as the sun came up.

There’s a lesson here: Stay until the very end, kids.

Tiesto honors a fallen friend

The electronic dance music community lost one of its biggest stars. Tiesto lost a friend.

It happened simultaneously when Swedish DJ-producer Avicii took his life in April 2018. He was 28.

A month later, Tiesto paid tribute to Avicii during his Kinetic Field performance, where he aired Avicii hits such as “Waiting for Love” and “Levels” for more than 10 minutes.

Tiesto performs at the Kinetic Field stage during the second day of the Electric Daisy Carnival ...
Tiesto performs at the Kinetic Field stage during the second day of the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas during the early hours of Sunday, May 20, 2018. Chase Stevens Las Vegas Review-Journal @csstevensphoto

“That was a really special moment,” Tiesto recalls. “People were gathering at the main stage. They were laughing, crying, and quiet at the same time. It was a really insane moment. That’s the kind of moment you want to create — the emotional ones.”

The ones that last.

For more EDC coverage, visit lvrj.com/EDC.

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @jbracelin76 on Instagram