David Guetta, Skrillex and More Kick Off EDM High Season in Vegas

Deadmau5, Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, Calvin Harris play Memorial Day Weekend marathon

guetta encore beach
© Erik Kabik/ erikkabik.com
David Guetta performs at Encore Beach Club in Las Vegas.
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In just over a week's time, thousands of dance-hungry revelers will descend upon Las Vegas' Motor Speedway for the Electric Daisy Carnival, one of the world's largest electronic dance music festivals. A host of star DJs – from David Guetta and Deadmau5 to Swedish House Mafia and Avicii – held court at the Wynn and Encore hotels this Memorial Day Weekend to give revelers a preview of the impending madness.

Photos: Behind the Scenes With Skrillex

With uncharacteristic wind advisories sweeping through the area, Sebastian Ingrosso – one-third of EDM trio Swedish House Mafia – kicked off the holiday weekend at Encore Beach Club's pool party, where his groupmate Steve Angello would later play as well. Joined onstage by a contingent of friends and VIPs, Ingrosso served up a searing multi-hour set that included crowd-participatory renditions of Swedish House Mafia's hit single "Save the World" and a throbbing remix of Georgi Kay's "In My Mind," a track that cropped up in various forms throughout the weekend.

"I'm so fucking tired, but that's alright," Ingrosso told Rolling Stone after his set, before he jetted to San Francisco for another gig. "America just sucked it in," he added of dance music's recent surge. "Hopefully it stays like this." Incredibly, Ingrosso would return to Vegas later that night for the tail-end of Tiësto's set at XS nightclub, where the trance superstar held a late-night throw down.  

Over at Tryst nightclub, Skrillex kept fans anxiously waiting for his late-hours performance and made up for it with a set that was heavy on spectacle. During the scream-anchored climax of one of his biggest hits, "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites," a massive confetti cannon splattered the amped-up crowd; later, the dubstep DJ ignited an absolute frenzy with his tension-bursting single, "Bangarang." Surrender nightclub, one of Encore's more popular late-night spots, hosted a set by Steve Aoki and Lil Jon on Saturday night; the next evening, Scottish DJ-producer Calvin Harris – the brains behind recent Rihanna smashes "We Found Love" and "Where Have You Been?," as well as his own charting single, "I Feel So Close" – had his way with the crowd, who shouted the hooks of his tunes right back at him.

Aoki told Rolling Stone that he’s amazed by the city's open-armed reception of dance music. "Before, I considered Vegas the most musically ignorant place in the world," said Aoki. "Now you come here and Deadmau5, one of the most non-commercial DJs, is selling the most tickets." Aoki was right: the Deadmau5's two-hour set on Monday at Encore Beach Club, during which he incessantly chain-smoked before putting on his signature mouse head, was a sold-out affair that bordered on mayhem.  

But on a weekend with virtually no lowlights, it was David Guetta who claimed the title of the weekend's biggest draw - the French DJ-producer played two sets, one on Sunday afternoon at Encore Beach Club and the other Monday night at XS (before a late-night gig from 22-year-old Swedish breakout star, Avicii). Flashing his ever-present smile, Guetta laid down a blend of his recent hit singles ("Without You," "Turn Me On" and "Titanium"), older smashes ("Memories," "Sexy Bitch"), signature remixes ("Sweat," "I'm David Guetta Bitch") and unexpected mash-ups (Avicii's "Levels" with Gotye's "Somebody I Used To Know"). It may have been Guetta's first time at XS, but as he told Rolling Stone earlier that evening in his massive hotel suite, Sin City is well on its on its way to earning the elite status of other dance epicenters like Ibiza.

"America is starting to catch up," Guetta said. "Is this is a good thing? Yes. Success is in motion."

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