Film Review: Under the Electric Sky

by Gordon Elgart on June 27, 2014

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The first time you see the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is jawdropping. You walk out to the top of the grandstands, and you look out over a sea of lights and motion that’s larger than you could have possibly imagined. The new film, Under the Electric Sky, captures this moment and many others, as it does a terrific job of showing the size and scale of the largest EDM festival going. This is what this movie is here for: it’s a 90-minute propaganda film that serves as a perfect advertisement for Insomniac Entertainment. It’ll definitely make you want to go.

The film purports to be a documentary, and it follows several disparate characters in their planning, traveling and experiencing the 2013 Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas. It’s a veritable who’s who of EDM archetypes and inspirational stories:

– A group of several bros from Cape Cod whose Alpha Bro died of a drug overdose, and they are loading into an RV to make the cross country trip in his honor

– An old school raver couple, already with two kids, who plan to marry at EDC

– A boy and a girl in a long distance relationship — he in Japan, she in New York — who just want to kiss on the top of the EDC ferris wheel

– A girl from Texas whose dream is to see her favorite act, Above and Beyond, under the electric sky

– A young man whose botched surgery left him in a wheelchair who feels alive when the music is playing

– A fireman in a 5-6 person group open relationship who also plan to marry, but as a group

All of these people talk about how much the music means to them, and have all sorts of inspiring adventures as the experience the best time of their entire life! It’s all just a bit too perfect. Things happen to these people that would never happen if they were not the subject of a “documentary.” It’s forced and manipulative, but effective nonetheless. You are going to like these people by the end of the movie, and you will probably tear up at the obvious machinations happening onscreen.

There’s some attempt to find balance here; an onsite doctor talks about the zero tolerance drug policy and says that “bad things have happened,” but it’s left there with stories untold. We’re told that “everyone is treated the same, no matter how much money they have,” which is easy to say, but I doubt showing security this clip is going to get you into the VIP areas that cost extra. One of our characters stands on camera wearing a Tumblr button at a LiveNation event to talk about how non-corporate stuff is so important.  Whoosh, though. With a sleight of hand, these concerns are gone. PLUR.

If you like electronic dance music, you’ll like the music here. Kaskade does some original score, and we’re treated to bits of performances by many artists. Most of them are on the main stage, which for 2013 was this incredible owl. You really have to see it. This screening was in 3D, but that fact is a total waste, and it didn’t help me enjoy the movie more; every time there was an effect, it took me out of the movie. If you can see it in 2D, I’d recommend it that way.

I’m fairly certain that the target audience for this is people who are already participating in modern EDM culture, and these people will definitely find the film enjoyable. If you’re not one of these people, and are wondering what the fuss is about, Under the Electric Sky should give you an understanding of why people love it, because that’s all it’s here to do.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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