Who wants to read about heavy gender-related issues anyway, jeez!
We have now completed 2 out of the 3 days here at the Las Vegas Electric Daisy Carnival... and it's a trip. Some of the art is great, the culture of the festival is super weird, and as Vegas has a few tricks up its sleeve as well...
Let's jump in.
We are staying at the Plaza Hotel and Casino. They have a hot tub, and one of their buildings has huge murals on the sides by Faile and Shepard Fairey. The one above is by Faile.
Before we even arrived at the festival, we made a little field trip to the Las Vegas Strip, mostly to see Marco Cochrane's Bliss Dance. It's really lovely - and the story behind it and the other two sculptures in the series is interesting.
Upon arriving at the site of the festival, one is struck by the scale. It's a big venue - a motor speedway. This photo was taken from high up in the grandstands...
After setting up the Hand of Man we took a walk around to look at some big art. A few pieces stood out for me. This is probably my favorite piece... called Anima, by Daniel Popper.
My other favorite piece is not really a "sculpture" in the sense of being a standalone piece by a single artist, but it is rather the large scenic elements of the main stage. When I first saw these I thought they were some sort of hard materials, but they are actually inflatables - fabric creations filled with compressed air (low pressure, fed continuously by large fans). Funny enough, there are major and obvious similarities between these pieces - both feature female heads with hands (heads and hands, my favorites) and both depict blissful expressions with closed eyes. Both show essentially non-human characters; Anima is made of wood and plants while the scenic stage faces are clearly robots.
Here is another one of the stages. The big rectangular elements at the sides are 40-foot shipping containers standing on-end - everything here is big. I find these stages quite interesting, and emblematic of this strange DJ-centric culture, insofar as they are these huge attention-grabbing constructions with video screens and lighting and fire elements and at the center is this tiny little stage with an even tinier little famous person (the DJ). It seems as if these stages, with their hugeness and grandiosity, are made to compensate for the absence of a traditional rock band with multiple musicians (and therefor multiple points of focus). The kids need something to look at, and that something is epically enormous video screens. And by their very scale, these stages reinforce the concept of DJ-as-superstar.
And then... oh god... the gates open. 160,000 people per day flood in. The boys are all wearing board-shorts and the girls are all wearing fetish underwear.
Yes, boys and girls. Not that many men or women here.
I find the culture genuinely strange. The attendees flock from one stage to another, mesmerized in front of the huge video screens, bouncing their bodies endlessly to the oontz oontz oontz of very repetitive music that has no instruments, no narrative, and minimal lyrics. I'm trying to be non-judgmental here... but I just don't really get it.
Another thing they do is stand in really long lines to take their picture in front of scenic elements which are made... to be places to take your picture. The line of people waiting to take their photo in front of this EDC "billboard" was about 200 long. "Hey look, Instagram... I'm at EDC!"
But, OK... it's not all so incomprehensible. There is a bar where all the bartenders are "little people," called the MiniBar. The drinks are really small. That's pretty good.
We spend a lot of time at catering.
It's a very entertaining place to be, and not only because the food is plentiful and healthy and delicious. The mix of people at catering is really great... it feels like the backstage of an old Hollywood movie. You've got firemen and policemen and stage personnel with all their safety gear and dancing girls and artists and and and... (These pictures are not particularly great... sorry about that... I was taking them surreptitiously! But take a close look at the cast of characters in these... You can see why we are usually here when we are not smashing cars with heavy machinery)
The festival runs from 7 in the evening until 5 in the morning... and everything looks different at night!
Space Girls (??)
and the main stage...
The Hand of Man is pretty photogenic, but that being said it's always a challenge to get a really good picture of it... Photo above by Cedar Goebel
I think this one above is pretty damn good. In the background is "Night at the Climb In," or "The Car-B-Cue" from last year's Burning Man.
The wreckage left by the Hand is often entertaining. This is part of a sticker on one of the cars.
And... EDC at night, also taken from the grandstands.
Signing off, from the city of Lost Wages
(If, for some reason, you do find the topic of beauty and its role in society to be an interesting one, HERE is a great video. It's not heavy; in fact it's narrated by John Cleese and it's quite light and funny, while also being super informative. I recommend it.)