EDC New York 2014: Our Top 10 Highlights

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This past Memorial Day weekend, Electric Daisy Carnival returned to New York for its 3rd consecutive year. EDC New York resumed operation at MetLife Stadium and re-established that this is the ideal location for the concrete jungle-rager. Insomniac flexed its event planning muscle to create what seemed like a pop-up electro village, backed by an army of staff, security and police, which came in handy when responding to a severe thunderstorm that temporarily postponed Day 1 of the festival. Once the rain died down, the festival was back up and running without another hiccup for its duration. The temporary chaos caused by the rain was ultimately a good thing for me, because it forced me to get out of my original strict itinerary to see certain DJs and exposed me to a broader array of DJs and artists. This gave me a true appreciation for the fact that the 70 or so musical acts that Insomniac booked spanned all genres of electronic music and really complemented one another. EDC New York also spared no expense visually, as I witnessed towering flame jets and barrages of fireworks from the multiple viewing angles provided by several VIP and media areas at each stage.

Despite drawing over 100,000 attendees, I felt like I had a lot of room to breathe at EDC New York, and I never felt like I had to wait very long for food, beer, or a bathroom. At the same time, if you wanted to get “front row” for top DJs like Hardwell or Tiësto, you got the excitement of being in a packed throng of fellow EDM fans and there was no shortage of new friends to make. At one point during Andrew Rayel’s set, I found myself in a bromantic dance circle with three other dudes as we jumped in unison to the vocal mix of Sebastian Ingrosso and Tommy Trash’s “Reload.” Ultimately, Electric Daisy Carnival New York reminded me why I embraced EDM in the first place - because it creates a common bond between people and has helped me form and deepen many of my most valued friendships.

My top 10 highlights from EDC New York 2014 are:

10. The Owl
Imported for the first time from EDC Vegas, the giant mechanical owl at Kinetic Field was the most eye-catching feature on the EDCNY skyline. The first time I locked eyes with the owl, its eyebrows were animatronically turned downward, making me feel like the owl was judging me. Then the owl's eyes transformed into subwoofers and it grew on me. At times the wings flapped to the beat, and at others, its mouth seemed to sing along with the vocals.

EDC New York 2014: Our Top 10 Highlights

9. Walkie Talkies
My buddy Clarence and I decided to order these Cobra walkie talkies and try them out for locating each other after having so many cell phone signal troubles at previous festivals. Not only did they work for communication purposes, but they also made us look a whole lot more legit when trying to push into the front of the main stage crowd. Also, the ladies loved them. Pick them up on Amazon
for your next festival- trust.

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8. Boys Noize
I've never seen Boys Noize live before, nor have I been an avid listener. But when he took the stage at Cosmic Meadow, he blew me away with his beats as well as his custom visuals. I recognized very few songs in his set, but loved every minute of it. Very unique sound, I'm definitely a Noize convert.

7. “Rocket”
I listened to this track many times in the week leading up to EDCNY, but I didn't fully appreciate it until the festival. This monster of a collab by W&W and Blasterjaxx was really meant to be heard live and I wanted to rocket into the sky when it was played by Ummet Ozcan and other DJs. Hardwell even mashed it up with "Spaceman."

EDC New York 2014: Our Top 10 Highlights

6. Hardstyle
Although I didn't get a chance to see any hardstyle acts this weekend (Headhunterz was the most talked about), I was very surprised to hear it being featured in several mainstream progressive DJs' sets. Both Hardwell and Tiësto jolted fans when they dropped in hardstyle remixes out of nowhere. It reminded me of how the same DJs used to drop in trap remixes in their sets. Is hardstyle the next big thing?

5. Drones
The last time I was at a festival, cameras looking down on the crowd were attached to cranes. Maybe I missed the memo, but EDCNY was the first time I realized that I was being filmed by flying robot drones. At first, these drones seemed Big Brother-esque as they looked directly down at us. But over time, the crowd grew used to them and cheered wildly every time they passed overhead.

EDC New York 2014: Our Top 10 Highlights

4. Damian Lazarus
I became curious about Damian Lazarus after Pete Tong started pushing his track "Lovers' Eyes." Perusing his SoundCloud before EDC, I didn't hear a lot of tracks that resembled house music. I was pleasantly surprised when Lazarus dropped an amazing tech house set at Neon Garden, with rich, exotic sounds that reminded me of the Arabic influences in "Lovers' Eyes." I highly recommend seeing Lazarus live.

3. The Massive Thunderstorm
I’m not a fan of rain, and I also wasn’t happy when EDCNY was temporarily postponed midway into Cash Cash’s set, but the chaos caused by the storm and the uncertainty of when it would end really made me appreciate the festival and Day 2’s beautiful weather tenfold more when it resumed. The storm disrupted my planned schedule of DJ’s but exposed me to some amazing talent I would have otherwise missed entirely. After getting sufficiently drenched by the downpour, I ultimately took refuge under the tent of the Neon Garden.

2. John Digweed
It was in that moment after the storm, when the festival’s speakers had fallen silent, and all hope seemed lost, that the speakers in the Neon Garden subtly started to emit a faint bassline. Slowly, the energy started to rise, and I realized that a shadowy figure had taken up its position behind the decks. After fiddling around with my festival schedule, I recognized it was John Digweed that had taken the stage. He seemed to single-handedly resurrect the festival with a bass-heavy techno set.

EDC New York 2014: Our Top 10 Highlights

1. Tiësto
I was extremely eager for Tiësto’s debut at EDC New York on Day 2, sorely missing him from the lineup for the past two years. I decided to experience this occasion from multiple vantage points, starting in the front of the crowd. As soon as Adventure Club finished their set, the crowd began chanting Tiësto’s name at the top of their lungs, showing their anticipation was as high as my own. Tiësto got off to a solid start with Dannic’s mashup of Tiësto and Wolfgang Gartner’s “We Are The Night” with Fedde Le Grand’s “Don’t Give Up.” Next, I tried to take a step back from the action and get an elevated view from the VIP Platinum Deck. The VIP crowd was just as amped as the stage crowd, and from there I listened to Tiësto’s recent single “Red Lights” as red fireworks arced into the sky.

Finally, I decided I would see what kind of view I could get with my press pass. I was able to get directly in front of the stage, between the stage and the barricade. This was truly one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. I was standing directly in front of an endless row of powerful subwoofers, barely dodging lasers and firework sparks. I stepped up on the barricade and looked over the entire crowd as Tiësto continued to wow them, dropping tracks ranging from his own well-known originals like “Pair of Dice” and “Adagio for Strings,” to songs in wholly different genres like Flume’s remix of “You & Me” by Disclosure and the Bass Modulators’ hardstyle remix of “Big Bang” by twoloud. At the end of his set, I rushed backstage and caught a glimpse of Tiësto before he signed some autographs and sped off in an Escalade.

EDC New York 2014: Our Top 10 Highlights

Until we meet again next year, EDC New York.