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FDL Movie Night: Electric Daisy Carnival Experience

Electric Daisy Carnival Experience is the closest thing to being at an electronic music festival that you can experience in a movie theater. Body and mind moving music, colorful costumes, joyous faces as 100,000 attendees spin to the lights and music fantastic at the 2010 Electric Daisy Carnival, held at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Directed by Kevin Kerslake, who marshaled a crew of over 54 camera people (including some in helicopters), EDCE takes us into the crowd, behind the scenes and through the ecstatic 22-hr festival at the Los Angeles Coliseum as fans, performers, DJs, police and producers participate in the largest electronic dance music festival in the United States. The 2010 EDC captured here may be the last major electronic music festivals to ever be held in Los Angeles; EDC has moved to a three-day festival in Las Vegas.

Who knew the underground was bigger than the surface?

asks, best known as the leader of the Black-Eyed Peas, who is one of nearly two dozen DJs creating the vibes for EDC. The singer/DJ recounts meeting a guy in high school who was passing out fliers to electronic music festivals, Pasquale Rotella, a guy who grew up to be the CEO of Insomniac, Inc., the company which creates EDC and a dozen other electronic music events across the United States.

Electronic music is huge, and over the past 20 years got that way through word of mouth, through warehouse parties and events staged in the desert and forest, gaining momentum without major radio airplay, as DJs created cult followings with their mixes and light shows. Electronic music festivals (raves) have come a long way from their depiction on the original Beverly Hills 90210 when the kids try to find a warehouse party using clues including a hard boiled egg; meanwhile, at the dingy event, Brandon is dosed with a drug by his wild girlfriend Emily Valentine and has to leave his car behind; when he returns hung over, the vintage Mustang has been trashed.

Electric Daisy Carnival is nothing like that! Using time lapse photography Kerslake shows how the Coliseum is transformed from a sports complex into a wonderland, as carnival rides are erected and the gates open to admit thousands of kids–EDC 2010 was a 16+ event (before that it was all-ages)–dressed in brilliant colors, ready to dance all day and night. Behind the scenes, stage manager/”art bitch” Jila, herself a former electronic music festivals dancer, wrangles the live performers–sexy clowns, Alice in Wonderland characters, and “toxic bunnies”–that make EDC an interactive environment, as the DJs arrive by car and plane. And there are the DJs’ sets, raucous and throbbing, sending messages of love and joy, of individuality and tribal unity.

Electric Daisy Carnival Experience is a joyous celebration of eternal youth through music, dance and laughter, mesmerizing and enthralling. The plan behind the film’s release was to put in into 600 theaters across the country as a special event, a one night only mini-electronic music festivals experience.  But after the film’s premier was the scene of a not-quite-riot in Hollywood–DJ Kaskade tweeted that he’d be playing, and thousands showed up to hear him spin, prompted a huge police response that shut down Hollywood Blvd for several hours; a police car was set on fire and the police fired bean bags into the crowd (Kerslake’s crew was able to capture that on film and it has been edited in to the film’s intro)–90% of the theaters dropped the film.

The film’s situation mirrors that of Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles; after a teenager died from an alleged Ecstasy overdose at the 2010 event, and several others were hospitalized, the city of Los Angeles and the Coliseum Commission banned all raves from the Coliseum and stated that all electronic music festivals events in the future must be 18 and over, and doctors must be present on site.

Electric Daisy Carnival Experience is a film about following dreams–from Rotella’s start as a kid putting on underground dance parties, to the dancers -once electronic music festivals fans- who have become professional performance artists who help create the environment for fans now, to the DJs whose love of music leads them to share ir with hundreds of thousands of people. And it is about a subculture of people of all races and socio-economic statuses who blend together, forming friendships that last a night or a lifetime under the pulsing lights and beats.

EDCE‘s director Kevin Kerslake has directed hundreds of music videos and commercials, infusing them with his anarchistic, rebellious vigor. Ask him about Nirvana, the Chuck D/Rollin Band video in support of the West Memphis 3, Iggy Pop the Rolling Stones…

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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.