Courtesy of Insomniac

Fireworks light the sky over the Kinetic Field stage overnight Friday on the first day of the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Las Vegas Speedway. Organizers say 520,000 people attended the three-day festival this year.

It’s about 3 a.m. Saturday, and the scene at the Kinetic Field at the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Las Vegas Speedway is, well, kinetic.

Marshmello has just finished a set lasting about 85 minutes with pounding, thumping, high-energy tunes that had the masses jumping, swaying and dancing as might be expected at what’s billed as the world’s largest dance music festival.

The set ends with the famed DJ’s remix of Adele’s “Hello,” on the heels of Bastille’s “Happier,” Halsey’s “Be Kind” and a version of Oasis’ “Wonderwall” that had the vast crowd singing the familiar, “Today is gonna be the day that they’re gonna throw it back to you …”

As the set ends, the throng takes a collective breath. Many will remain at Kinetic Field for a back-to-back set with Malaa and Danny Chien, aka Wax Motif. Others will take off for one of the other nine stages available throughout the pit areas and vast infield within the speedway’s 1.5-mile tri-oval track. On this night, it is literally packed with people.

Making your way from one stage to another, it hits that the phrase “world’s largest dance music festival” falls considerably short of reality. No matter which way you go, it seems like you’re a salmon swimming against the stream. And that’s understandable; this year, Insomniac, the organizers of EDC, said an estimated 520,000 people attended the three-day event.

Five hundred and twenty thousand people.

That’s a Raiders game shy of the entire population of the state of Wyoming.

That is, before youthrow in the outfits, the totems and flags on display, the lasers, lights, flame-throwers, pyrotechnics, artworks, carnival rides, food stands, watering stations and restrooms, and it is literally like nothing you’ve ever seen before — especially on this scale.

Las Vegas local Cory Pearson is sitting on a chair near a line of concession stands off to the side of Kinetic Field after Marshmello’s set. He stands out on this night because of his understated attire: In a sea of crop tops, short shorts, G-strings, fishnets, sports bras, bright neon tubes and bare chests, he’s wearing a rather tame T-shirt and shorts. His graying hair and rounded wire-frame glasses hint that he’s a bit older than the typical EDC-goer.

Pearson arrived at the Speedway in time for the 5 p.m. opening ceremony. He says he’ll stay until the sun rises. Then he plans to make his way back both Saturday and Sunday nights. He says he’s been into rave music since his youth in the 1980s. This year’s EDC is his third, but he says it won’t be his last.

He seems a little surprised when he’s asked if he’ll share his age, but he reveals that he’s 48 — not old by any stretch but still twice the age of thousands of others in the crowd this night.

Asked if he feels old among the younger people, Pearson offers, “I can tell you this: I’m starting to feel my age.”

Pearson isn’t an anomaly. EDC draws its audience from across the United States and around the world. The festivalgoers range in age from 21 to who knows. A YouTube video from a past EDC features ravers in their golden years.

What, Pearson is asked, brings him and others his age and older out and keeps them out?

“The music,” he said.

The music is everywhere. Some of it is hard-edge, like at the Wasteland stage, where the DJ, Lil Texas, is spinning at a deafening volume and the tone is hardcore — even on a track featuring the Spice Girls. At the Basspod stage, as you might imagine, you literally feel the “thump, thump, thump” in your bones as Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” blasts during Barely Alive’s set around 4 a.m.

Short of being a marathon runner, there’s no possible way to get to every one of the stages in a single night. There are simply too many people, too much dancing and too big of an area to cover.

But this night included a stop for trance music, courtesy of Paul Denton at the Quantum Valley stage. Ironically, by the time his track “Beneath the Stars” ended, the sun was rising over the eastern edge of the speedway and it was time to go home.

As surreal as the night was, so too was walking out of the stadium with thousands of worn-out ravers, trudging toward their cars or rideshare rides, ready to call it a night (a day?) and do it all again.

[email protected] / 702-259-4186 / @newspapereditor

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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