EDC 2012: The Underground Has Left The Building

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Christopher Victorio
Kaskade Friday at EDC.
Twenty years after rave culture first entered the American mainstream, the success of a festival like Electric Daisy Carnival makes one wonder: Can electronic dance music retain its warehouse roots and peace, love, unity and respect (PLUR) on this level?

EDC, whose organizers claim they sold out this year's event in Las Vegas with a three-day audience of 300,000, has taken EDM to levels previously unseen in the United States.

Massive stages, booming sound systems, and DJs who are now studio A-listers (David Guetta) and arena-rock stars (Kaskade) can't help but inspire debate over whether this event has indeed become a mainstream showcase, as its promoters argued before raves were shut out from the L.A. Coliseum last year and EDC moved to Vegas.

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Christopher Victorio
EDC girls give PLUR.
If they were right, and maybe they were, EDC has taken rave culture beyond its edge and into the predictable realm of a stage show.

Where DJs once wove a night's narrative based on whim and their own sense of the crowd, EDC is a radio-station festival of electronic music, a place where you can see your favorite heroes perform the most played-out songs.

Kaskade's performance Friday during the opening night of EDC at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, while electrifying in all its megawatt glory, was the usual rundown of his hits. If you ever wondered whether the electronic music veteran would play Vegas like a veteran torch singer, the answer is yes. He played all your faves. The main stage was even framed by wall-to-wall supergraphics and light screens that blasted the words to Kaskade's songs, so people could sing along.

Also scheduled for EDC Saturday (but cancelled as a result of wind): Avicii, whose "Levels" is so played out that it inspired an internet meme (a photo of a gun-toting Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction with the words, "Play Levels Again..."), and who has become a caricature of the superstar DJ.


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