This past weekend, a 50,000-strong armada of clubbers from across the UK gathered to see in Insomniac’s debut European extension of their famed Electric Daisy Carnival festival concept. A flood of rave paint, homemade daisy attire, and slightly sinister spells of cross-dressing, the crowds gathered early at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and, despite an early curfew courtesy of London’s less-understanding council members, kept the party going in the true power of the flower.
With a 15-minute walk separating the main stage from EDC’s other musical exploits, cross-festival coverage was made especially tricky. Nonetheless, the festival’s who’s-who of main-stage acts was a surefire indicator of whether London really ‘got’ the concept that has kept North American clubland in such high esteem these past few years.
Australian sisters Nervo were first to test the waters of the landmark event, using what could have been down-time in between their European tour duties to seal a short yet significant opening slot for the early-rising masses. Extending an immediate feel-good atmosphere across the Olympic legacy spot, the duo not only tapped into their own studio spoils but also the crossover tracks that have fueled Britain’s love for dance music along the way. This brought together such hits as “Like Home” and Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” to set the mood to an all-time high at early doors.
As Holland’s first powerhouse on Saturday’s bill, Hardwell looked set on making amends for the Creamfields appearance he lost to torrential British downpour. Met by a sea of banners, t-shirts, and even the occasional football shirt tipping his hometown of Breda, the Dutch heavyweight plowed through unfortunate technical difficulties to deliver the near-perfect culmination of his peak-time studio work. Between an off-the-cuff mash-up of “How We Do” and Duke Dumont’s “Need U (100%),” his dexterous culmination of Beatport chart-toppers and heavyset crossover pieces made his set yet another indication of the indefinite upwards spiral that has met Robbert Van De Corput and his Revealed Records stronghold.
Having soared through past appearances at Milton Keynes Bowl and Warehouse Project, Refune Records’ own Alesso came well equipped to showcase the stamina that has set his name in motion over the past two years. Opening with his infamous “Mysteryland ID,” drawing hits from across the spectrum, and dropping his own chart-toppers “Calling” and “If I Lose Myself,” the young Swede’s set tightened the lead on a main-stage line-up dominated by two of Europe’s leading dance music nations.
But with festival-goers rushing from the secluded other stages throughout Alesso’s set, it seemed evident that Steve Angello was to prove a dominant addition to the bill. With a sparing yet powerful track record for London appearances, his EDC set tapped into the past, present, and future charm that has kept fans cooing to his post-SHM presence since the group’s last showdown at UMF in March. From Size Records favorites to chart-racking breakthrough hits, his set ended with the fabled “Children of the Wild” ID that is thought to be our first taste of his impending debut album.
In the same week that saw him turn country-tinged wildcard “Wake Me Up” into the fastest-selling UK chart-topper of 2013, Avicii’s co-headline appearance was more than befitting of this European debut for EDC. If you ever wondered what The Clash, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and “Levels” had in common, tonight’s set was the bizarre yet seemingly qualified answer that made Avicii’s return to UK soil a triumphant one on all counts, adding to the momentum of his impending debut album, Truth.
For some, Tiësto’s legacy wound down the day he traded in trance for universal club fuel. For others, this is exactly where the magic began. Where Tiësto had seemingly played down this transition in the past, his long overdue return to the UK signaled a rare and open-ended insight into the aural shifts of his iconic career. Dominated by cuts from his latest Club Life offering, the Musical Freedom maestro dipped into his arsenal of euphoric club anthems, emerging with the likes of “Adagio For Strings” and his remix of Delirium’s “Silence”—a 360-degree view of the journey that has made him one of the globe’s most beloved superstar DJs and the finishing touch on EDC’s inaugural European voyage.
Photo via MTV UK