By Caroline Fontein
This weekend the party scene in Las Vegas is moving to the desert. For the second year in a row the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is transforming into a nightlife carnival featuring more than 150 electronic DJs, 500 theatrical performers, large-scale interactive art displays, amusement rides and other surprises for the 16th Annual Electric Daisy Carnival produced by Insomniac.
The three-day event is one of the largest electronic music festivals in North America. Upwards of 300,000 people are expected at this year’s already sold-out event taking place June 8 – 10. The festival spans a 1,000-acre complex with a total of seven stages.
While some of the best DJs in the world headline the festival, EDC is much more than just a venue to hear great music. DJ performances are embellished with innovative lighting, video imagery, pyrotechnics and other state-of-the-art production elements, creating a multisensory experience for fans.
That environment is being enhanced even more this year with a special collaboration by the city’s own Blue Man Group and DJ/record producer Steve Aoki. The Blue Man Group and Aoki are performing on the main stage on June 9.
Pairing an electronic music DJ with a performance group known for its avant-garde approach to entertainment was prompted by the producers of EDC.
“I think they recognized right away that here’s someone that can come in and take things to the next level and create a really wonderful, bizarre, eclectic kind of atmosphere, and that’s a good thing for them,” said Michael “Puck” Quinn, creative director for Blue Man Group. “That’s what they’re trying to create. They’re trying to create moments where people walk away and go, ‘God do you remember when that happened?’”
Blue Man Group performs at The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip. They also have productions in other locations. Their show features a trio of men who are known worldwide for their blue skin, all-black ensembles and innovative combination of music, color, humor and technology. The elements in their show make them a natural fit for electronic music. In the past they’ve also worked with Tiësto.
“We aren’t electronic artists, but our music often involves us taking electronic music and then recreating it in an acoustic and live way by playing keyboard parts on tubes. So there’s certainly an overlap there,” said Quinn. “The festival is about creating a tribal experience. You can’t get any more tribal than the Electric Daisy Carnival, and that’s what we try to do is to create those sort of experiences for people.”
Aoki is also well-known for creating an immersive atmosphere for fans. For him being a DJ doesn’t stop at the tables. His shows often include leaping from stage balconies into the crowd, spraying revelers with champagne and stage diving over fans in an inflatable raft. Along with touring the world as a headlining DJ, Aoki is both a regular DJ at and the music director for Surrender nightclub at Encore.
“He’s a maniac, he’s gung ho for anything,” said Quinn. “When I got on the phone with him the first time he was like, ‘Look, I want you to do anything. I don’t care what you do. You can do anything you want to me. I’m game for anything. You can put my life in danger. I don’t care,’” said Quinn.
He and Aoki have been working on their act for the past several months, but both parties are keeping exactly what they’re doing a secret before the show.
“I don’t know how much I should be giving away because to me this is going to be probably the most epic show I’ve ever done,” said Aoki.
He did reveal that part of what Blue Man Group is doing is performing live with him over his tracks, something he said is going to be a “really profound moment in the show.”
Aoki also alluded to some other wild interactive elements that the Blue Man Group are going to create between him and the crowd.
“There will some really exciting activities that happen, and in a way I don’t like to talk about it so much because I don’t want to exploit it. I want it to be a very special thing for people that come to that show,” said Aoki.
In addition to EDC being their first collaboration, both Aoki and Blue Man Group are going to debut new elements of their art at the festival.
The Blue Man Group are going to use instruments and other “weird things” that they’ve never implemented into a live show before. If everything works out, Quinn said they’re hoping to use those elements in the reworked Blue Man Group show when it moves from The Venetian to the Monte Carlo in the fall.
Aoki is incorporating new records into his set including his single “Beat Down” with Iggy Azalea, a new collaboration with Nice Party and a new single dropping this summer called “Singularity.” This year at EDC his label, Dim Mak Records, also has its own stage featuring a roster of amazing artists including Datsik, Kill the Noise, Feed Me, Clockwork and Mustard Pimp.
It’s going to be a stellar night for fans and the performers. Out of all the festivals he’s played, Aoki referred to EDC as one of the best in the world. The festival creates a fantastical electronic atmosphere for the crowd. Experiencing that from a DJ’s perspective is just as amazing.
“You see everyone jumping in unison to your music. It’ll change your life. It’ll change the way you think about your own music and how you want to make it better and better and how it affects people,” said Aoki.
According to Quinn, those unifying moments are what define EDC. Each night the festival is a breeding ground for experiences that move a mass audience. Creating that energy is the inspiration behind Aoki and Blue Man Group’s upcoming performance.
“That’s what we want our show to be on its best night, a transcendent communal dance around the campfire, and that is exactly what Electric Daisy Carnival is trying to do, the same vibe, get people together and dance. There’s nothing more tribal or more primal than that,” said Quinn.
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