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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Under the Electric Sky Movie Review


The Electric Daisy Festival is an annual event in Las Vegas that began in the early 1990's. I've never heard of it, but that is probably a function of my not being a teen or a twenty-something. Before its inception, raves were the rage on the music scene, but the cops slowly shut them down because while they were electronic music-filled events, they were also drug havens.

Pasquale Rotella was a regular at raves, and when they died off he felt a burning desire to revive them in a different form that accented the music, light shows, and theatrics, but minus the overwhelming drug abuse. Today, the festival is the largest gathering of people brought together for any musical event. For three nights, upwards of 350,000 mostly young people gather in an enormous open area to dance, dress up in outrageous costumes, and watch the most famous DJs of electronic music spin records. 

Co-directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, "Under the Electric Sky" is a pure love letter to the festival, its music, and the people who travel from all over the world to attend. Presenting it this way makes it feel like an infomercial, but in spite of that I got totally caught up in the excitement. A special nod to the way it is edited for making it a pulsating film. Despite being oblivious to all of the performers, save one, I had a great time watching it.

At the beginning we meet some of the people in their hometowns, preparing to head to Vegas. All of them are psyched. Most of them have in common that they are not the "cool" kids. It seems highly unlikely that this get-together centers on the outcasts and disenfranchised, but that is what we are being told, even though it is impossible. It is all sanitized to make us feel for these good people who aren't the captains and cheerleaders of their high school football teams - even though one of the groups that treks from Cape Cod gives off a distinct jock aura, but they are the nice kind of jocks, not the ones who bully the weak in the corridors of their high schools.


As much as I wanted to dislike this promotional puff piece, I couldn't. Its palpable excitement, music, and shared good feelings permeate everything. I finally gave up, sat back and had a great time. The time to be a cynical critic would have to be put on hold. My only regret is that I am not in the right demographic to immerse myself in person. The music isn't to my taste, but maybe it might have been under different circumstances. Go see it and try and sit still in your seat. It will probably be too electric for you to not feel a part of it.

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