While Insomniac’s flagship event in Las Vegas is still a top festival, EDC Orlando 2021 delivered on a more memorable experience.
When you think of Insomniac Events and Electric Daisy Carnival, your mind probably instantly goes to Las Vegas. Or…maybe Chicago or New York if you’ve been around for a while. EDC Las Vegas is widely recognized as one of the best EDM festivals in the world. However, EDC Orlando was quietly the better festival in 2021.
At first, the idea of heading to Florida after recently getting back from Las Vegas seemed like a bit much. It was something I committed to months ago with the mindset of attending every festival I could in 2021. Starting back in April with Ubbi Dubbi and continuing through fall with events like Lost Lands and Spring Awakening, an unforgettable year of live music is slowly winding down. And ending it with EDC Orlando couldn’t have been more perfect.
Set and Setting
EDC Las Vegas – and my first Camp EDC – was definitely a lot of fun. However, the energy and money it requires just doesn’t seem worth it anymore. Staying up until 6 AM and either struggling to find a way home from the racetrack or staying in the campgrounds with bumping bass until 11 is extremely exhausting, and it shows in the overall vibe of the festival.
I wasn’t really expecting much going into EDC Orlando. I had attended once in 2018; it was a decent time, but the fest was only two days and didn’t really compare to Vegas. But this year was just different. Recently expanding to three days, the energy felt significantly more positive in Orlando.
I think a big part of that is the time shift your body has to undergo at EDCLV. Back when the festival was in June, it made sense for the festival to be he held from 7 PM-6 AM. But when its October, or even when its May, it just doesn’t seem necessary. It also mostly eliminates the option of afterparties.
EDC Orlando, on the other hand, is close to the city. And with the festival ending at midnight, there’s plenty of aftershows to choose from. Personally, I was at Home Bass every night (and afternoon). Hosting pool parties and afters with artists like Baauer, Snails, Eprom, Lee Foss, Happy Colors, and Manic Focus, Home Bass was like a second festival perfectly placed around EDC weekend.
The venue at EDCO is also preferable. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more exhaustion than I do after walking on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway all weekend. Tinker Field is mostly on grass and dirt instead of concrete and asphalt, and the commute is easier. Also, I’m pretty sure there was less sound bleed in Florida, even though the grounds were significantly smaller.
Do It To It
While EDC Las Vegas has the deeper lineup with eight stages going on at all times, the schedule felt a bit empty compared to past years. There were also a lot of set time conflicts – choosing between Gryffin, Tiesto, and Martin Garrix on Saturday night wasn’t easy.
I also was really looking forward to the Wasteland stage at EDCLV, but was ultimately let down. There were still great sets from the likes of Da Tweekaz and DJ Isaac, but that stage has downsized significantly over the years. I ended up having more fun the one day Stereo Bloom was taken over by Basscon with sets from DJ Anime and Coone in Orlando.
In Vegas, Stereo Bloom was strictly house music for three days straight, but I really appreciated the variety that stage brought in Orlando. Dreamstate took it over on Saturday, with an awesome live show from HALIENE. Is there a better feeling at a festival than being completely drawn into a set that you weren’t planning on seeing? Cosmic Gate was that for me on Saturday night.
Neon Garden was definitely one of the bright spots of both festivals, as it was upgraded to a Megastructure-style setup similar to Carl Cox’s stage at Ultra. There’s nothing like seeing some banging techno in a dark room with festival-grade production. Nina Kraviz, Charlotte de Witte, Amelie Lens, and Nicole Moudaber played some seriously memorable sets.
The Kinetic Field setup stayed almost identical, and that’s slowly becoming one of my favorite stages at EDC. The fireworks show at Kinetic continues to be one of the best parts of the festival, and the drone show this year was a nice touch too. It easily beats Disney and Universal for the best fireworks show in Orlando. Some of my personal favorites at Kinetic included Jason Ross, 3LAU, KSHMR, Tiesto, Nicky Romero, Alan Walker, and two rounds of of Afrojack b2b R3HAB.
The second main stage, Circuit Grounds, was set up differently at both fests. Circuit Grounds in Vegas is probably the largest stage at the venue, but it was a bit smaller in Orlando with similar production. It hosts music of all genres, and I’m pretty sure Excision played one of his best sets of the year on Saturday night at EDCO. Also, it’s still so surreal that Shaquille O’Neal is playing dubstep. Who would’ve thought the former Magic star would return to Orlando as DJ Diesel 30 years later? Maybe we really are living in a simulation – and maybe my Insomniac NFTs will be worth a few ETH soon.
Something that would bring EDC Orlando to the next level would be a Cosmic Meadow style stage like they have in Vegas. Cosmic Meadow is definitely my favorite stage at EDCLV. Its the only stage that utilizes the raceway grandstand, and really one of the only places to sit in the festival. This would be possible in Orlando if they expand into Camping World Stadium next to Tinker Field – its only used for a few college football games a year anyway. If EDCO expands into Camping World Stadium someday, it would instantly be on par with EDCLV.
Something about EDC Las Vegas just felt off this year. Was it because it was pushed back from May to October? Were attendees upset because they were promised air conditioned tents and exclusive GA+ bathrooms? Or maybe the lineup was lacking because of COVID travel bans still in place. Regardless, EDCLV just didn’t cut it when you consider the price tag and expectation.
EDC Orlando felt more real. With the stages being closer together, it was easier to get around. People were friendlier, and the vibe was more positive. I had more memorable interactions with people in the crowd, and everyone had plenty of energy to last them throughout the entire weekend.
EDC Las Vegas is a festival that everyone has to try at least once. But personally, I’m more looking forward to EDC Orlando in 2022. I’d highly recommend EDCO to anyone, while EDCLV is more intense and probably isn’t something I’ll do every year going forward. Next year, I hope to see EDC Las Vegas come back in a big way. Being just six months away, it’ll be interesting to see what Insomniac comes up with in May 2022.
Until then, I’ll be ready for Ultra Music Festival‘s much-anticipated return to Bayfront Park in Miami. And with Countdown Orlando Invasion on NYE and Sunset Music Festival on Memorial Day Weekend, Florida is looking like one of the top destinations for EDM events next year. With more festivals and new music on the horizon, festival season 2022 will definitely be one to remember.