Festival season officially starts this week with Ultra Music Festival in Miami. Since 2009, the year when Electric Daisy transformed into a three-day affair and Electric Zoo launched on Randall's Island, these seasonal mega-parties have only gotten bigger and more lavish by the year. Ask any industry insider and they'll tell you that someone stands to make a lot of money off of these giant dance parties—and the over-the-top spectacle of it all is half the draw.
One of the most powerful weapons that the EDM Advertising Complex has in its arsenal is the promotional aftermovie. These high-production YouTube clips recap the event with a montage of music and images that make every moment look like a cross between Woodstock, Alice In Wonderland, and a party at the Playboy Mansion.
To prepare for this year's festival fever, I subjected myself to a few cumulative hours of aftermovie overload, because I thought I'd learn some valuable lessons about human nature.
1. They say getting there is half the fun.
These clips make even the experience of waiting in line seem epic. Which is weird because I usually spend my time in line worrying about whether security is going to find the drugs I've tucked under my balls.
2. Jesus, these things take forever to start.
The Ultra aftermovie plays for a solid four minutes and 52 seconds before the beat kicks in. Then the viewer is treated to a montage of shirtless bros doing chin-ups, a girl shouting out the festival's Twitter account, and a feckless DJ Hardwell fingering his precious thumb drive like it's Lord of the Rings.
3. The manufacturers of confetti cannons are having a banner year.
Ultra uses pure Miami white, while Tomorrowland in Belgium favors a rainbow of colors for its paper blasters. And the Dominator Hardcore Festival in Holland? Black strips, of course.
4. And once the music does kick in…
DJing has got to be one of the best cardio workouts out there, since jumping around and endlessly waving one's arms exercises all muscle groups. It seems like the DJ with the highest vertical jump is the most popular, which goes a long way in explaining Steve Aoki's success.
5. Whenever a breakdown comes in, things will begin moving in slow motion.
This trick is pretty great when you're filming the taut midriffs of 100 teenage girls in neon crop tops and booty shorts.
6. And things speed up when the beat kicks back.
It's kinda like coming out of a K-hole.
7. All DJs are required to get on the microphone.
The minimum requirement is a shout out to the festival, but bonus points are awarded to those who tell the crowd how "truly special" they are. Extra bonus points go to Armin Van Buuren for pandering to the Tomorrowland crowd by telling them how he left his newborn son at the hospital to come play some CDs for them. (I don't know how I feel about that.)
8. You will suffer through some product placement.
The most common sponsors are beer companies, energy drink manufacturers, and cell phone peddlers. Festivals need their support because these events can't possibly turn a profit while selling a mere 100,000 tickets at $300 a pop.
9. Three days is too long for a festival.
Hell, three days is even too long to watch in a video recap of a festival. Go home people!