That One Time I Did EDC Without a Lineup and Why It Was the Best Thing I Ever Did
Posted May 19, 2017
…Ok, maybe not the best thing ever, but it was pretty damn awesome. And I needed a catchy title.
My second year of EDC was 2013. It was maybe my 4th festival ever, it was right around the time I was getting severely obsessed with the scene and starting to get into more than just the popular acts. I planned to go to 2013 as soon as 2012 ended so I already had everything booked and paid for well before the lineup came out.
I can’t remember exactly what happened that day, but when the lineup came out, I just… didn’t really get around to looking at it. I remember giving it a quick glance and thinking “Oh look – everyone ever.” and that was it. I already knew I was going regardless, and I knew all the big DJs were there, so I wasn’t in a huge hurry. It was a couple of days without getting a chance to really dig through it in detail while my friends discussed it. People kept asking if I’d seen the lineup, and I kept saying no.
And then my stubborn streak kicked in.
If I went two days without looking at the lineup, what if I just didn’t look at the lineup…. at all? Nope! won’t do it. You can’t make me! I never got into the discussions on who to see. I didn’t look at the poster. I didn’t listen to the playlists.
The schedule came out while I was on my flight to Vegas, and I stubbornly ignored it as hard as I could.
I had a few friends in Vegas, but I ended up mainly hanging out with one friend who is very easy going and always down for an adventure without a plan. However, he’d also just been in a car accident and couldn’t last all night. So every night, I’d start out with him for half the night, he’d leave around 1am to go back to the hotel, and I’d spend the rest of the night by myself. I stayed open to close.
We did the entire festival without a plan or a schedule aside from a couple of artists that he wanted to see. The rest of the time, we had no agenda.
And it was perfect. I learned a lot about music and what I truly liked, and realized how many misconceptions I had about different artists and genres.
Because I had no idea who was playing, I let my ears lead me around the festival. If something sounded good, we’d check it out. When we lost interest, we’d move on. We didn’t bother with sets we didn’t like, regardless of who was playing. There were no set conflicts to deal with. We weren’t rushed to get from one set to the next, because we had no idea when things started and ended. We were free to explore at our own speed without any pressure. If we met up with friends for a bit, we’d see who they wanted to see, and move on when we were done.
We saw sets at every single stage.
This let me really separate judgement, misconceptions, and marketing from the actual music, because outside factors didn’t influence my opinion of the music they played. I did carry a schedule at the show which I used to look up who I was currently seeing and we left or their set finished.
There were countless times that I found I was shocked at who I was seeing, because my feelings toward their music did not match my preconceived notion of them. There were certain artists who were popular at the time, who I know I’d have probably wanted to see because they were the big names to see, and would have probably had bias feelings that their sets were good, because that’s what marketing would lead me to believe. (It’s tougher than you think to separate outside influence from your actual feelings – sometimes if you know something is supposed to be good, then you tend to think it’s good – not because it is, but because you’re told it is.)
There were times I really didn’t enjoy an artist, and I’d look in the schedule only to find it was someone popular, who I’d have expected to like.
But more often, and much better – we heard absolutely amazing sets, and I’d look in the schedule to find a name I didn’t know or expect. These were artists who’s names I never would have given a second thought to if I was choosing who to see off the lineup. There were artists or even entire genres I thought I didn’t like – maybe because I hadn’t given them a chance or because someone told me they were no good – but when I saw their name in the schedule, I’d have a “THAT’S what these guys really play?!” moment.
It was the single biggest thing I’ve done to expand my knowledge of music into more genres and more artists. It’s led me to have a more open mind to new acts. Just because an artist is popular, doesn’t mean you have to like them. Your new favourite may be a name you’d always glanced over on the lineup and ignored, because something about their name just didn’t sound like something you’d dig.
I realize it’s not for everyone, and some people wouldn’t even consider taking this approach. But if you ever get the chance, at EDC or at another festival – I’d HIGHLY recommend giving it a shot. Maybe go halfway – plan to see your few favorite artists, but the rest of the time, just go exploring. See what you can find. Try out something new, and not just something you trust. Don’t pay attention to who it is, just worry about whether you like it or not. It doesn’t matter if they’re popular. It doesn’t matter if it’s Eric Prydz or DJ Khaled. If you’re digging it, go have a great time and maybe find a new favourite. If you aren’t – don’t waste your time. You don’t have to like something just because it’s something you’re “supposed” to like.
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