If it’s possible to identify the most important Las Vegas event in the near future, it has to be World of Concrete. The annual international construction industry event was confirmed last week for June 8-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and although there’s no estimation for in-person attendance yet, it traditionally draws about 50,000 people to Las Vegas.
Not only will World of Concrete be the first large-scale convention in Las Vegas in more than a year, it will be the first event to use the 1.4 million-square-foot expansion of the convention center and the new Loop underground tunnel transportation system. Though the Strip is gradually reopening and visitation is on the rise, the crucial meetings and convention business that anchors Southern Nevada’s tourism-based economy has remained almost completely shut down.
But concrete probably doesn’t come to mind when you think of big Vegas events. More small- and medium-sized production shows and live entertainment events are slowly returning to theaters that are now allowed to welcome 50% capacity, and more fans are attending Vegas Golden Knights games at T-Mobile Arena. But the next huge Vegas event on the horizon won’t be held on the Strip.
At press time, Electric Daisy Carnival was still scheduled for May 21-23 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, just two short months away, and it’s sold out. One of the largest dance music events in the world, Insomniac Events’ flagship festival has been held in Las Vegas since 2011, after originating in Southern California in 1999. The pandemic caused EDC to push from its 2020 spring dates to October, and then in August it postponed again until 2021.
Last week, founder Pasquale Rotella provided an update on social media: “As of now, nothing has changed. If we can have a safe show in May, then we’re going to make it happen. … If we’re not able to do the show in May, then we have backup dates ready and refunds if you can’t make our new dates.”
If his plans come together, EDC would mark the first major music festival in Las Vegas since December 2019, when Intersect hit the Strip. EDC could pave the way for Psycho Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay in August and Life Is Beautiful and Punk Rock Bowling Downtown in September.
It’s understandably difficult to assess the likelihood of the festival occurring in May at the Speedway, and it’s also tough to predict what that version of EDC might look like. The Speedway hosted approximately 12,500 fans each day during the NASCAR event on March 5-7, roughly 15% of the venue’s capacity of 80,000. But that was before Gov. Steve Sisolak further loosened restrictions on March 12, and streamlined the approval process for large gatherings.
Large venues with tens of thousands of fixed seats can now apply to host events at 50% capacity, but there are no venues like the Speedway, especially when it comes to EDC. The festival reported attendance of 155,000 per day during its last three-day edition in 2019, with the Speedway making use of its full acreage. Like LIB, it’s a full-on festival, with lots of walking to different distant parts of the party.
The crystal ball clouds even more when you consider that on May 1, official control over big events—and pandemic restrictions and protocols in general—are set to be transferred from the State of Nevada to local county governments. Expectations are high that event capacities will be increased again at that time.
The EDC lineup that never performed in 2020 was another massive roster of legendary DJs and rising stars, including well-known-in-Vegas names like David Guetta, Tiësto, Diplo, Afrojack, Alesso, The Chainsmokers, Zedd, DJ Snake and Galantis. (The 2021 lineup is expected to be announced soon.) Last year’s fest would also have introduced a ninth stage dedicated to house music, and it would have been the third year for Camp EDC, which allows festivalgoers to sleep on site in ShiftPod structures and RVs. (ShiftPod units are sold out for 2021.)
Though EDC happens far from the Strip, its impact there is indelible. The sounds and stars of the fest take over nightclubs and dayclubs for at least a week, and no annual event brings a larger group of young music fans to Las Vegas to party. Only Insomniac knows what percentage of attendees will make a May festival worth the effort, and right now, no one knows what percentage might be allowed.