Kaskade is among the can't-miss acts at Electric Daisy Carnival (Al Powers )
The dance-heavy Electric Daisy Carnival left L.A. for Las Vegas last year, but it remains a marquee music festival in the Southwest, comparable with Coachella in day-to-day attendance. For casual fans, combing through the relentless four-on-the-floor kick-thump and the endless micro-genres of techno and dubstep can be as baffling as figuring out how to secure fairy wings to a bikini top. Names like will.i.am and David Guetta need no introduction, but here's a quick primer on the must-see acts this weekend in a sea of earnest guys hovering over laptops.
Kaskade: The San Clemente-based producer is perhaps the biggest name in the genre right now, and for good reason. His sultry tracks often feature prominent pop vocals, which have earned him a strong mainstream following. He headlines Staples Center later this summer, and he'll debut his new arena setup at the festival. It'll likely be the wildest production from a teetotaling Mormon you'll see this year.
Avicii:Sweden's finest dance export has a genuine pop hit in "Le7els" (you know, the "Whoa-oh sometimes I get a good feeling" song) and he's collaborated with Madonna. But the rest of his catalog is deeper and emotionally richer than you might expect. The gauzy "Silhouettes" even made the cool-kid skeptics at Pitchfork admit its genius.
Porter Robinson: At just 19, the producer has already been touted by Tiesto, Skrillex and Deadmau5 as the new face of the genre. He played to almost 30,000 people a night opening on Tiesto's recent "College Invasion" tour, and his dubstep-infused hard electro tracks threatened to steal the show.
Rusko: The second-biggest name in crossover dubstep (behind Skrillex) recently moved to L.A. from his native England and followed up production work for Britney Spears with the reggae-soaked album "Songs." He seems to thrive in a space where he toys with pop fame while undermining it with virtuosic, crate-digging detail.
Richie Hawtin: Mazel tov to EDC for putting a few genre pioneers in front of a big, deserved audience. Without this Detroit-minimalist maven laying sonic and business groundwork for EDM under his many aliases, lord knows what today's kids in crazy outfits would be listening to. Alongside Carl Cox and the drum-and-bass vet Shy FX, he ably represents a pioneering old guard in a genre that skews incredibly young today.