As a Midwest native, I'd always dreamed of what it would be like to attend an Insomniac event. I was always the one watching their videos nonstop and then begging my friends to watch with me just so they could share this excitement but some just never saw the "wow" factor like I did. I would look at photos and envy and everything about it, wondering when I would finally get the chance to be the "headliner." After Pasquale Rotella had finally made the official announcement that The Road To EDC would make a stop in Joliet at the Chicagoland Speedway, I knew it was finally my chance. So I embarked on the weekend of the lifetime, and while packing to leave, I knew I'd be leaving part of myself there.
This year was not only EDC's first stop in the Midwest but it was also EDC's first and only venue that provided the option to camp during the festival. Insomniac did an amazing job of creating the ultimate experience for campers. Campers were able to enter the campground Thursday and enjoy a pre-party featuring sets from Discovery Project winners Crizzly and Bare. During the day before gates were open Insomniac had plenty of activities available for campers. There were sessions for tie dying, making your own totem poles, and constructing your own "memory bracelets" (aka kandi). Showers were provided daily and Garnier provided a tent to style campers hair. Food vendors provided the option of already prepared meals but campers were also able to cook their own meals at the community grill. To escape the cold, a tent was set up with heaters and a charging station. The tent became a sanctuary for everyone that weekend since the weather was not on our side.
Camping was the perfect opportunity for everyone to connect and establish long lasting friendships and keep the party going long after the festival grounds closed in the early AM. The entire experience was made very safe with Ground Control monitoring the campsite 24/7 to ensure there weren't any mishaps. The most appreciated feature camping provided must have been the option to go back and forth between the campground and the festival grounds. Since the weather hit some bitter low temps, many campers would run back to their tents to bundle up after the sun went down.
Day one of EDC started off with a bang. An estimated 20,000 concert goers flooded Chicagoland Speedway to experience the 60+ musical acts. Insomniac’s interactive art installations, non stop carnival rides, and seven minute firework show illuminated the track the entire night. There was also a surprise performance from the Redbull Skydiving team.
Above & Beyond stole the show Friday night with their two hour set at the Circuitgrounds stage. Feed Me also made a breathtaking performance and was one hell of a performance to mark Johnathan Gooch's temporary hiatus. Other acts that topped off the night were Gareth Emery, Rebecca & Fiona, Martin Solveig, Kaskade, and Nadastrom.
Day two packed about 24,000 fans and festivalgoers were lucky to experience weather that was a tad warmer. Insomniac dealt with many noise complaints from the night before from residents claiming that the music and bass was so loud that pictures were falling off their walls within their neighboring homes. The promoters compromised by lowering stage volumes about 33% and moving the fireworks shows to an earlier time.
Saturday’s lineup featured Tritonal, Cazzette, Bro Safari, W&W, Hard Rock Sofa, Mat Zo, Borgore, Mimosa, Ferry Corsten, Hardwell, Avicii, Benny Benny Banassi, Fedde le Grand, and Armin van Buuren, among others. Armin packed KineticField and put the entire crowd in the ultimate state of Trance in a show-stopping two hour set. Over at the CircuitGrounds stage Hardwell really warmed the crowd up with a dynamic taste of Electro House.