EDC UK 2014 Review – Avicii and Calvin Harris @ Milton Keynes Bowl

Posted on 21 July 2014
By Martin Higgins
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There is a growing trend in European dance festivals today.

The music isn’t enough any more. To have impact in an area where there is so much crossover and sameness, you have to go big – like Electric Daisy Carnival, for example.

A festival like no other for its outlandish size and ethereal set designs, this American invader hit the Milton Keynes Bowl in 2014 with some of the most impressive lightshows and pyrotechnics you’ll see anywhere this side of the Atlantic.

Last year’s event at Stratford’s Olympic Park set the gold standard – when a cosmic meadow of light and colour flowed through East London and attracted some of the world’s biggest DJs to the big smoke.

But with the increased 60,000 capacity at the bowl this year and 360degrees of LCD screens raised around the outside of it, the event has raised the bar even higher.

Instantly, walking around the site, the unbelievable power of the sound system on the main stage, kineticFIELD, hits you like a tonne of bricks.

And beside the stage, another new addition this year was the amazing video playback across the huge hanging LCD screens, which tessellate and fit together like Tetris pieces.

First up, we caught a smidgen of Showtek and then Nicky Romero to whet our appetite for the feast of electronic music coming our way.

Top ten hit ‘Booyah’ got the biggest reception early on, a tune which has accumulated a staggering 35million views on YouTube, and gives off some seriously laid back reggae vibes with Dutch singer Sonny Wilson’s vocals, before hammering into the instantly recognisable breakdown.

Nicky Romero, though, not one to be upstaged, rivalled that huge roar with his smash ‘I Could be the One’, which features a collaboration with Avicii and had people clambering onto each other’s shoulders and dancing like lunatics.

It was early in the day, but the dance lovers in situ were salivating at the amazing line-up that Cream and Insomniac had assembled, and despite many of them suffering from jet lag having travelled from all 4 corners of the globe to be there. This embodies the global appeal of brand EDC.

Calvin Harris hit the main stage at 4pm and took control of the hidden contraptions behind the DJ booth.

The 6ft5 inch Scot is an imposing figure on the street, but even he looked dwarfed by the enormous metallic EDC sign and the mesmerising stage around him.

Due to unforeseen planning problems in the build-up Harris was moved over to the afternoon Saturday slot and the Sunday was cancelled all together.

Despite this unavoidable setback, his arsenal of chart-topping hits and raw energy still gave the sensation of a headline slot.

He played through his catalogue of crowdpleasers, like his smash Under Control – a song he penned with Alesso and Hurts front man Theo Hutchcraft, and which has that anthemic quality that the EDC brotherhood adore.

As this song pulsated from the speakers the first big confetti shower of the day rained down over the jubilant gatherers.

Harris played into Feel So Close as rain droplets exploded on the screens to the side of the stage.

In between sets we caught the first glimpse of Cirque Bijou, the roving carnival troupe who captivated us at last year’s event with their outlandish costumes and traveling circus of trapeze artists.

The next few hours slipped by like a Midsummer Nights Dream, with otherworldly characters walking about in complete randomness and enchanting music playing in every direction, before we came to our senses at Steve Angello.

He instantly chirped in with ‘Show Me Love’, a song goes all the way back to 1993 and first brought Swedish songbird Robyn to the public’s attention.

He kept up the golden oldie theme throughout his set with classics like the Eurthymics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ and Delirium’s ‘Silence’.

Avicii headlined later still and as the sun came down the fireworks became more intense.

The 24 year old Swede played through his most scintillating tracks, old and new, such as ‘Fade Into Darkness’, ‘I Could be the One’, as well as modern remixes, like Disclosure’s hit ‘White Noise’.

But without doubt the biggest singalong moment of the night was the curtain closer, as he hit into an eye popping rendition of ‘Wake Me Up’. A fitting crescendo to a long, hard day of dancing.

EDC UK has carried over that Las Vegas bravura seamlessly, with its colourful desert flower motif, visionary lightshows and more explosions than Walter White carrying a bag of fulminated mercury.

The internet generation is very easily bored these days, with their short attention spans, their sluggish cognitive tempos and their bleak world cynicism, a consequence of mining for hate comments under YouTube videos and too much late night trolling on Chat Roulette, drunk.

But here that emotion is simply impossible. The site is too full of variety, with sideshows, sub-attractions on top of sub-attractions, and fair ground rides that send chills up a cowardly coat holder’s spine (me).

There was 3 other satellite tents to explore too, serving up an eclectic mix of beats and genres, so even the most stubbornly uncompromising dance snob could find their perfect sonic vice.