Attending multi-city dance fest Electric Daisy Carnival means taking part in a culture. Unlike rock-focused events like Coachella and Lollapalooza, EDC brings an entire underground lifestyle out into the daylight — and this year, onto the MetLife Stadium parking lot in New Jersey. Thousands of young people turned up even when heavy rain poured down, wearing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes, waving glow sticks and sharing the PLUR handshake. Ahead are the 25 best things — DJs, sculptures, even tattoos — that Rolling Stone came across after two days dancing under the Jersey skies. By Nick Murray, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd and Brittany Spanos
One of the final headliners on the biggest stage, Tiësto's presence was what revelers might call a peak, and as ever, fans of the world's second paid DJ were numerous and dedicated. As the leader of the "Dutch invasion" — the clutch of DJs from the Netherlands who most influence the squelchy, trancey, high-energy sound American record labels call "EDM" — the inveterate DJ was at top form. But then, when 10,000 people are screaming your name and thousands of dollars in fireworks are being blasted to celebrate, basically, you, how could you not? J.E.S.
Calvin Harris' music is massive and cinematic, and his set sounded and looked like money. He was, after all, the highest-paid DJ of 2013, and Sunday night a packed crowd screamed along to hits as if they had been waiting all weekend to hear them. Harris seemed take cues from the stars he produces, indulging in the kind of stage excess (flames, fireworks, you know the rest) that made you temporarily forget you were dancing on a parking lot over a swamp in Jersey. Love in a hopeless place, indeed. B.S.
Touching on tracks released by his former group Swedish House Mafia ("Antidote," "Save the World") but focusing more on the records that have made him a compelling solo artist ("Children of the Wild," "Knas"), Angello played an hour and a half of music that was grand and over-the-top, both sonically and emotionally. At last year's festival, the DJ's house anthems were sabotaged by a layout that placed his stage too close to that of fellow Swede Eric Prydz. This year, however, those tracks could expand out across the pavement. B.S.
We'll never tire of the rave accessory that is the medical mask made of beads — the so-called "kandi mask." In the Nineties, ravers wore medical masks rubbed with menthol, thinking that breathing it would amplify their ecstasy high. In the 2010s, that is basically impossible to do because dudes, kandi masks are made of plastic beads. It's a sartorial throwback with no discernible function other than just looking really cool, and we are here for it. J.E.S.
Alexander Ridha, known within EDC's animatronic parking lot as Boys Noize, brought all kinds of fire to his set, playing hits while behind the DJ booth and engaging the crowd on those moments when he — gasp — stepped out. Ridha's "Dog Blood" Skrillex collaborations may have introduced him to many of the young ravers who come to this sort of festival, but Sunday's performance proved once again he had both the skills and the charisma to play for them on his own. B.S.
U.K. dubstep stars Nero closed out the fest, and it's evident why they have earned both their following and their Grammy. Simply put, they know how to take it to level 10 and keep it there, tempering their sub-bass with twinkling atmospherics and just enough sweetness from live vocalist Alana Watson. If they announced the release date of their highly anticipated new album, though, we didn't hear it. Better be soon: The ecstatic crowd of fans gathered together in PLUR on the football field where the New York Giants play, clearly searching for something with which to define their summer. J.E.S.
Detroit legend MK (a.k.a Marc Kinchen) threw down the kind of set — perhaps the best of the fest — that reminds you why some people treat house music like a religion: He took it to church. On the event's second-smallest stage, MK stayed in a soulful pocket, playing several of his own impeccable remixes (including those of Rudimental's "Powerless" and Disclosure and AlunaGeorge's "White Noise") to underscore his fealty to diva house, a style that nearly no other DJ touched the whole weekend. Rather than peaking our hardstyle, Kinchen was peddling grooves (a somewhat rare tack in the EDC oeuvre) and it felt like easy elation. J.E.S.
Substituting the usual assortment of mixers and turntables for a dynamic combination of live drums, bass and horns, Rudimental played the type of relaxed, refreshing set that Saturday was for the most part missing. Before big names like Nero and Steve Angello closed the festival with loud, aggressive sets, the British band's particular brand of funk allowed most of the crowd to both continue dancing and reflect on the waning weekend. B.S.
Within an overall heavy set, 2manydjs went almost minimal with a remix of the Beastie Boys' "Girls," sonically imitating the type of vocal interplay the rap group was known for. It was an obvious highlight in a performance full of them. B.S.
Around the time Jersey's Cash Cash started playing, it began to rain. And rain. And rain. Until suddenly it was monsoon-style pouring upon thousands of people in a parking lot rigged with high-voltage electricity. Some smart people brought ponchos, but many of those who didn't remained unbothered, dancing a little more gleefully while drenched — though it must be said that wet rave tutus tend to slouch flaccidly and look slightly sad. Others raced towards the stadium, crowding indoors; your faithful reporters didn't make it that far, instead taking refuge underneath a giant hot-pink psychedelic mushroom, its caps shielding our heads from the downpour. Once the lightning started, though, the stages were shut down, and everyone was ushered inside until the rain let up an hour later. "The situation has been resolved," said a man on a loudspeaker. Who knew EDM could control the weather? J.E.S.
You know the way bass sounds coming from a car as it's passing by? That was kind of the sound GTA went for — and went hard with — during their set. They used it best on a remix of Ace Hood’s "Bugatti": Apropos for a duo that shares a name with the best car video game series of all time. B.S.
Philadelphia-based DJ and producer Starkey played one of the most interesting sets of the festival, purveying the style he calls "streetbass" by seamlessly mixing unconventional, even moody trap beats and other genres — British grime, for instance — rarely heard elsewhere at EDC. Though his early time slot meant only a couple hundred people had filtered into the stadium stage, he still played a robust set and debuted a lovely, wistful-sound new song with vocoded female vocals called "This" (We fact-checked.) J.E.S.
The diminishing popularity of dubstep could be seen in how few DJs played the genre — even Skream, one of its brilliant innovators, long gave it up for house and disco, which resulted in a depressingly stultifying set. Bassnectar, though, seems to be overcompensating: His dedication to low-end was unrelenting and at times punishing. At one point, he converged Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" vocal with a searing dubstep beat and a shrapnel-rain of drum-and-bass breaks, as if to remind us that excess was the reason we were all there. J.E.S.
This was classic European club DJing, full of subtleties and build, at one point including a house interlude that could have come from Limelight circa '93. Traversing from soulful house to Chicago booty to tech house with a Detroit slant, he even threw down a little garage-influenced U.K. funky before blowing our minds with a Rihanna edit by Divoli S'vere, a comparatively obscure producer of vogue and ballroom house music. French Fries' Soundcloud game is deep. J.E.S.
Rhode Island's most famous DJ might still be Pauly D — EDC, of course, took place in his home away from home — but its best is Araabmuzik, a Dipset-approved MPC spaz who feverishly layers drums onto rap ("Mercy") and EDM ("Satisfaction") hits, tapping them into his console in real time. By the end of his Sunday set, the hits even dropped away, and for 10-minute intervals the towers of Metlife Stadium speakers would emit nothing furious snares, distorted bass and the occasional Wilhelm scream. The crowd, meanwhile, stayed put. N.M.
In a festival that's all about the big drop, it's nice to see storied, subtle DJs like Gina Turner, a New Yorker who takes cues from the best classic house DJs and never kowtows to trends. On an indoor stage that mimicked a bottle-service nightclub, she built a deep groove and let the emotional intensity spread out, rewarding for house fans who wanted to lose themselves in it. Related: Turner was one of only a handful of women booked on the entire festival. It makes you wonder if the Electric Daisy Carnival programmers notice the gender inequity of their programming, or if they just aren't really up on the scene. Here's a handy list for next time! J.E.S.
A lot of people cut "Turn Down for What" into their EDC sets, but no one did it better than the song's creator. More than a one-hit wonder or a one-record DJ, Snake spent the rest of his stage time weaving sounds and styles without ever losing the crowd. The definite highlight: His transition into his remix of Kanye West's "New Slaves," during which he stripped the song down to the bare bones its intro before setting it all on fire once more. B.S.
The sculptures at EDC are always epic, and this year's batch included a silver animatronic owl and various giant, neon, light-up flora. But yo, there was so much dick imagery! At night, when you could no longer discern its caterpillar characteristics, a "caterpillar" standing on its haunches basically became a massive erect penis, while a crop of magic mushrooms just looked like a phallic garden. Come to think of it, are all the daisies in this rubric supposed to represent vaginas? Is this entire festival a metaphor for sex? Oh man, we just blew our own minds. J.E.S.
In the five years that Borgore has been on the scene, he has been defined by two things: his position as the person many believe to be the progenitor of "brostep," a style influenced by his stint as a drummer in an Israeli deathcore band, and his over-the-top, sometimes violent misogyny. Sometimes, it feels like he's just trying to see what he can get away with, but one of his newer songs, "Hate," is chauvinistic to the point of cliché. In the style of mid-Aughts emo-rock, he sings, "She's a good girl/she's like an angel/she's like Taylor/so I fuck her like I hate her." He dropped it mid-set, then mixed it into the hook of A$AP Ferg's "Dump Dump," which goes, "I fucked yo' bitch/nigga, I fucked yo' bitch." Borgore's dedication to denigrating women makes one wonder what he might be over-compensating for, but in a week that a man in Santa Barbara went on a shooting spree because of his own hatred towards women, "Hate" felt particularly painful to hear. J.E.S.
At bottom-heavy festivals like EDC, when four headliners are playing simultaneously by the end of the day, sometimes it pays to show up early and see what's what. That was the case when Baggi Begovic eased listeners into the day with progressive house selections, amped up with a bit of pop. Begovic attributes his deft touch to his past — born in Bosnia, he was interned in a detention camp until 1992 before becoming a Rotterdam-based club DJ and Tiësto compatriot — which didn't audibly reflect his set, other than the fact that in this story, the DJ who saved his life was, in fact, himself. The crowd felt it. J.E.S.
Gervais teased his syrupy remix of Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness" early and made good on this promise by playing it in full shortly before he left the stage, right when the sun finally returned. The combination had a positive and noticeable effect on a crowd that had been waning in the aftermath of the sudden downpour, their beads, tutus and cartoon character onesies still soaked. B.S.
It's strange seeing a progressive house legend who once commanded tens of thousands of ravers playing on the second-smallest stage, but time marches on: It's not the Nineties, and right now it sometimes feels like DJs can't get put on without at least a little Dutch influence. Nevertheless, Digweed played a reliable and enjoyable set of the music on which he made his name, throwing in classics like the Jungle Brothers' "I'll House You," his fans eating it up. J.E.S.
Chicago's Krewella were overstimulating in the best way possible, bringing fireworks, drum-and-bass and the combined energy of the group's three members to the Kinetic Field — better known as the stage with the giant owl perched above the DJ booth. Here, everything was flashing neon and slightly terrifying, and the "Alive" newcomers channelled that energy into one of the festival's most intense sets. B.S.
Yordan & Dead Space's blends would have been blissfully weird at even the most open-minded of venues, but at EDC that seemed to come from another planet — specifically one where it's common practice to transition from Janet Jackson to the "I Have a Dream Speech" and somehow wind up at the Ghostbusters theme song. B.S.
Sure, people were sporting some sick/cute/weird/goofy costumes they were going to discard when they returned to their regular, post-EDC lives. Some things, like tattoos, are permanent. Which is why this dude’s ink of a cross being held (straddled, perhaps?) by your friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man wins for best ink of the weekend. Props to him for being creative, and double props for wearing such a unique piece of art so proudly on his arm. B.S.