aLIVE for Insomniac

They say the grass is always greener—especially if you’ve been jumping around on the Citi Field parking lot all day.

It’s Day One (May 14) of New York’s Electric Daisy Carnival, and at 9:45 p.m. DJ Snake steps up to the platform on the Main stage, red light pulsing over thousands of ravers. Big bass rumbles out from the monitors, making Snake’s entrance dramatic, letting us know we’re in for something epic. But then, just as Snake starts gaining momentum, we hear some booming coming from a few hundred feet away: Zedd has launching into his set one minute later.

It’s the common debate at most music festivals: choosing which headliner you want to commit to and then not feeling FOMO when you hear the echoes of the other guy looming from the other side of the festival grounds… except at EDC, the two headlining stages are right next to each other, with only a small VIP section separating them. I choose to stay with DJ Snake for a while, but Zedd’s bass taunts me from behind.

DJ Snake plays up the NYC vibes and samples a bit of Lil Jon’s Alvaro & Mercer joint, where Jon screams in his raspy signature party voice: “Welcome to New York, bitch!” Of course, fans are anticipating a different Lil Jon song, “Turn Down for What,” his collaboration with Snake himself. DJ Snake dramatically builds up to his most famous song but plays “Turn Down for What” for only four seconds and then moves on.

“We about to do some ghetto shit,” he yells. “Everybody sit down.” Nobody sits down. DJ Snake thinks he can make history by having people stop dancing at a dance music festival. But no matter how much he coaxes them, no one sits. He tries again: “The only people allowed to stand are f•ckboys and girls with smelly-ass pussies.” I squat down.

He plays “Get Low,” his track with Day Two’s headliner Dillon Francis, and I walk over to Zedd’s stage while he samples “Circle of Life” from Lion King, waving around a free glow stick I got. Zedd’s playing “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Chainsmokers and Daya, and it’s a drastically different vibe. Zedd’s featuring mostly female singers in his set, playing his song with Selena Gomez next, followed by his song with Ellie Goulding.

Technically, DJ Snake was on the more awesome stage—the stage with a giant balloon owl looking menacingly down on everyone with its eerily moving eyes. There are waterfalls flowing vigorously on each side of the stage and fountains bubbling up dozens of feet tall in sync with the music. Zedd’s stage is not as complex, but his “Z” takes multiple forms behind him on the big screen. There’s flumes of fire propelling into the air and I feel the heat from where I’m standing. 

My hype for Zedd was wearing off, so I return to DJ Snake’s side just as he goes into “Lean On,” his song of last summer with Major Lazer. DJ Snake sometimes pauses his music to scream things like “put your hands up” or “what up New York,” which I hate, so I consider going back to Zedd’s set. But time is winding down.

Like I said, the grass is always greener.