Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Invasion of the Ravers

How quickly a year passes. The Electric Daisy Carnival is coming back to Las Vegas for a second weekend of all night raves and mayhem starting this Friday.

Last year, the arrival of the massive electronic music event, which is expected to draw 300,000 people (and nearly as many glow-stick vendors), caused a bit of panic among adults who don't understand what these crazy young people were doing in the dessert. Sure, many (most) of the attendees will be on drugs (that's why people go to these things), but so was everyone at Woodstock back in the day. Los Angeles banned EDC because a girl died at the festival two years ago, which led to Las Vegas taking over hosting duties last June. For weeks leading up to the event, headlines coming out of Vegas played up the danger of the scary rave culture, many of the articles reading like hilariously old fashioned 50's style moral panic pieces.

But then the actual festival happened, with respectful and smart crowds, and no deaths or major incidents reported. More importantly (or cynically), the event was a massive success for the recession cratered city, with  hotels completely sold out (at heightened room rates), and restaurants bars and gaming floors jammed with people during the day (because the massive rave takes place overnight), bringing tons of cash into the city over one weekend. After such a massive success, it's no surprise that the controversy and panic that led up to last year's festival has all but disappeared from the media as Sin City is welcoming over a quarter million party goers to the town with open arms. The injection of lots and lots money really changes the perceptions of those disapproving grownups, doesn't it?

With that said, I have to admit to not really "getting" the whole rave thing. Dubstep just straight up confounds me. Skrillex is basically the first artist that makes me feel like parents when they listen to the next generation's music. It's just noise! In my day band played instruments and hauled them three miles through the snow!

I'm not inherently against electronic dance music. LCD Soundsystem might be the most important act of the last decade. J.U.S.T.I.C.E. rocks, Daft Punk rocks harder (I'd much rather deal with their brand of robot music than Skrillex-bro's), and if I lived in New York, I probably would have been willing to commit murder to get tickets to Kraftwerk's performances at MOMA. But the whole rave culture is a turnoff to me, and has been since it became a "thing" in the 90's (even though I kind of liked the movie "Go" when I saw it theaters). The music, the fashion, the drugs, the dance moves... I just can't connect to any of it (I'm with them on glow-sticks though. Glow-sticks are cool no matter how old you get).

That's the thing with niche culture though. Whatever it is about the DJs and the music that brings people together to dance under the moon and strobe lights until dawn doesn't appeal to me at all, but it means everything to the 300,000 people who will gather in Las Vegas this weekend. It's easy to snark on something that's not your scene and that you barely understand (other than porn, it's basically the main use of the internet) but what's the point? It's the same for any polarizing art or artists. As many people as there are who love the work of Wes Anderson and Animal Collective as much as I do, there are just as many people who become enraged at the work of these extremely individualistic artists because their very specific point of view doesn't appeal to them. But just because it's not for you, why should it make you metaphorically Hulk out on an AV Club comment board? Why can't we all just get along and realize that just because something is not made for us, it doesn't automatically need to inspire rage filled tirades on Twitter? Respect an artist for trying to follow their own muse and let the people who respond to it enjoy the community they've created around it instead of viciously attacking them. It doesn't take anything away from your scene to allow someone else to enjoy a totally separate scene. Can't we all just get along, internet?

EDC is not my bag by any means, but it's cool that there is an event that can bring so many people together to joyfully participate in something that they're passionate about. The music those crazy ravers love so much might sound like an epileptic robot having a violent yet vaguely rhythmic seizure to my ears, but I will defend their right to dance to that music it with my life. Or at least with my blog.

I'll be avoiding the crushing crowds filling Las Vegas to capacity this weekend like the plague, but rave on kids. Keep hydrated, and someone bring me back a few glow sticks.

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