Excitement unfettered as festival-goers broke away from their mundane routines to attend the highly anticipated ‘Electric Daisy Carnival’ at the National Bowl, Milton Keynes. Held consecutively for the third year in the UK, EDC at MK Bowl saw its ravers stomp their trails through concurrent acts all day, leaving most headliners at dead heat. There was almost an indistinguishable aura that snuck around the bowl,one that exuded concrete emotions of togetherness, elation, vigour and contentment.
1. The Venue
Apart from the conventional alms a music festival is expected to offer, EDC’s uniqueness lay in its carnival like semblance, arty-crafty installations and gut wrenching rides. To add further glories were a whole bunch of troupe dancers, stage, and circus performers and a range of visually appealing laser shows and pyrotechnics all unified in mystical pretense. All of this kicked into life as the sun shone intermittently in the background. Also known as the MK Bowl, the iconic open-air grassland is as big as it can get. A 75-acre crescent that gently slopes down to a flat area makes it the perfect location for large-scale events like EDC. A five-minute stroll from the bowl leads you to the camping site, the most preferred form of accommodation amongst British punters. The bowl had been further sub divided into four prime areas or stages, the main focal points of different genres and accompanying them were the occasional food stalls, bars and tobacco shops.
2. The Music and stages
The center stage, Kinetic Field featured the most sought after acts of the event. Its bare dimensions would stun you. Standing 100 feet high and stretching 250 feet wide, this colossal stage was a sight in itself. Its most representative aspect was the structure of two humongous 45 feet tall twin owls, complete with strobe lights, glowing neon pipe organs, and multiple flame units that provided for the spectacular pyrotechnics at display. The genres included Electronic dance music, Electro House, trance and techno and featured most of the bigwigs of the event. Hardwell had the masses jump in frenzied excitement as he played old numbers such as ‘In my mind’ and the immortal riff from Jack White’s ‘Seven Nation Army’. An increasing fad amongst festivals in Britain is the need for intoxication of some sort during the event, whether it’d be a good ol’ pint or balloons filled with nitrogen from whipped cream chargers and hence ravers were seen indulging and then over indulging into whatever was at their disposal. Stevie did not forget to share his cake as usual and commanded the crowds as they swayed hands at his behest. The true essence of Kinetic Field could be experienced once the sun had set. Tiesto as the closing act was the highlight of the event as he delivered a show stopping set of tunes synchronized with stunning firework displays. The crowd had gotten 30,000 strong by the end of it and just to be a part of that moment, to experience that common force that represented individuality, respect and complete exhilaration, banded together by music, was an experience in itself.
Kinetic Field may have had the best looking set and a number of headlining performers but Circuit Grounds stole the thunder, not because of its aesthetics or light shows but because it was the place to be for Drum and Bass fans who were in a clear majority and quintessentially the cooler lot. Artists like Sub Focus and Sigma had the crowds X-Stepping to tunes like ‘Nobody To Love’ and ‘What is love’. There was unity in action amongst the fans – JUMP, Lighters up or shoulder lifts. Its large domed structure compacted people together under one roof and in close contact which made crowd interactions subtle. Other artists that played were Matrix and Futurebound, Friction, and High Contrast ft. MC Wrec. Of all stages set the crowd seemed to be most constant at Circuit Grounds, perhaps Drum and Bass’ increasing popularity in the UK could be held accountable.
Cosmic Meadow was the place to be for Trance house enthusiasts. German legend Paul Van Dyk’s set turned eventful as thousands of dedicated Van Dyk enthusiasts stormed into the tents, rending the air with cries like ‘Ah Sh-t, this is my jam’ or ‘This man’s a legend!’ Neon Garden being only next to Circuit Grounds, was primarily used by the crowds to catch their gasps of breath which they had exhausted at the jam packed Circuit Grounds. Ferry Corsten and Markus Schulz dropped numbers that had the crowds’ acapella in loud energetic pitches. Twelve large cubes dappled iridescent lights across the tent as Cosmic Gate opened set, sending the crowds into vigorous stamp dancing. Synchronized light emissions from the stage provided a pulsating energy that encouraged you to move with the beats of the artists.
Neon Gardens featured assorted genres like tech house, minimal techno and deep house and had artists like Claude Vonstroke, Marco Carola, Jamie Jones and Rout 94 deliver very laid back tunes. The crowd seemed very in sync with themselves here, dancing in a very hip manner, redefining cool as they did. The EDC experience wasn’t all about the music. For those that had overcome their fears of height or that funny feeling in the stomach, were ranges of gravity defying and vertical rides. The best one took you 250 feet high up in the air to give you spectacular views of the event. It was only from here one would realize its true proportions, an overwhelming feeling altogether.
At festivals like EDC food is always taken seriously as it fuels the body. Organizers’ were adept at realizing this and every venue had its own food arcade. From Chips n Cheese, priced at a quid to gourmet burgers that sold for a tenner, ravers, tired after sets and sets of glorious music queued up endlessly at the food stalls. Popular amongst the crowds were Cheeseburgers, Pizzas, Paninis, Wraps and Battered sausages. The Chinese stall and the Curry house fared really well with queues that never seemed to end. Vintage ice cream vans that read ‘Mr. Wimpy’s’ provided for fresh doughnuts and ice cream. Festival eating should always be accompanied with good drinks and so was the case at MK Bowl. The bars were each divided according to their various types of offerings, so there was a wine bar, a cocktail bar and a beer stand. Every stage had their respective bars adding to the convenience of buying a drink without having to travel all the way across the grounds. Beer was priced at five pounds a pint, wine at six pounds by the glass. There was evidence of trampled beer bottles everywhere as the crowds littered the grounds in drunken stupor.
To add to its vibrant environment was the presence of hundreds of troupe dancers, circus performers and eccentric characters. They gave EDC its mystical aura, enthralling the audiences with their skillful performances. MK Bowl turned quite colorful with the crowds donning all sorts of attires and personalities. From cowboy hats and dungarees to tutus and tennis shoes, everyone had their hue of expression. Bolder themes such as individuality and distinctiveness came to play once the inhibitions had worn off. And it all turned out to be one big and happy gathering of people.
(Words by Harsh Jaiswal & Shivika Narayan)