Lovers of dance music may enjoy “Under the Electric Sky” directed by Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz.
One’s enjoyment of EDC 2013: Under the Electric Sky is largely dependent on his or her interest in its subject matter. The documentary concerns 2013’s Electric Daisy Carnival, a massive electronic music festival held in Las Vegas every June. It’s a major spectacle and really something to behold.
One might expect much performance footage intercut with behind the scenes content. That’s not really what the case. Rather, this movie focuses on the fans that attend the festival. It follows several people and tells their personal stories. There is performance footage but it’s broken up quite a bit. We never watch one artist for more than a minute or two, which is probably just as well. However, the music is unrelenting, playing in the background of most scenes. It’s enjoyable for a while, but it all sounds so similar that it grows tiresome by the end of the film’s eighty-five minute runtime.
Certain stories get more time and attention then others. Two in particular are enjoyable and emotionally involving (likely because we spend more time on them than the others). One is the story of a teenage girl with social anxiety who is bullied at school. She looks forward all year to the event. The other story is of a couple in their late 30s, who met eighteen years ago at EDC and have gone every year together since. They plan to get married together on the third night of the fest. Both stories have emotionally satisfying resolutions, but most of the film is made of myriad other things. We get some material on EDC founder Pasquale Rotella and his inspiration for starting the festival. There’s also material involving a health and safety worker, which feels a bit obligatory and shoehorned in (speaking of shoehorning, the use of 3D feels very forced and adds little to the film).
Numerous talking heads interviewees talk about what the festival means to them. Many of them say how it is a place for the outcasts of the world, and how EDM (or electronic dance music) is for those people. That’s certainly there for the people we see in the documentary. Those interested in the culture of electronic dance music will likely enjoy Under the Electric Sky, even if it often feels like a feature-length commercial for the festival. The film attempts to recreate the epic sweep, awe, and immersion one feels with a truly great dance song. And for fleeting moments, it does.