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‘Under the Electric Sky’ documentary brings EDM to the big screen

Upcoming EDM Events

Under the Electric Sky

Documentary film about the 2013 Electric Daisy Carnival festival

Opens July 25 at Cinemark West Plano, 3800 Dallas Parkway, Plano


Great Awakening

Featuring Butch Clancy, Kennedy Jones, Emalkay, Liquid Stranger and more

Aug. 2

The Pulse Club, 2408 E. Belknap St., Fort Worth


18-and-older only


Mad Decent Block Party

Featuring Big Gigantic, Flosstradamus, Dillon Francis, Bro Safari and more

Aug. 31

Outside Club Zouk, 703 McKinney Ave., Dallas

18-and-older only

$45 general admission, $75 VIP


Porter Robinson

Sept. 20

South Side Ballroom, 1135 S. Lamar, Dallas



Lights All Night

Lineup not yet announced

Dec. 26-27

Dallas Convention Center, 650 S. Griffin St., Dallas

18-and-older only

Only two-day admission tickets ($135-$499) are on sale


EDM Playlist

Want to listen to our Spotify playlist of some of the EDM artists mentioned in these stories? Go to http://tinyurl.com/oy2kvt7.

Posted 4:03pm on Thursday, Jul. 24, 2014

Hear that pulsing sound? That means it’s EDM week here at DFW.com. Check out our other stories we’ve been rolling out this week: Falling into step with dance music (a look at the overall EDM movement); Lights All Night (peeling back the curtain on Dallas’ biggest annual EDM party); Tarrant goes techno; a long history of EDM at the Lizard Lounge in Dallas; and an EDM glossary.

There’s a scene in Under the Electric Sky, Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz’s colorful 3-D documentary about the 2013 edition of the massive, annual three-day Electric Daisy Carnival festival in Las Vegas opening July 25 at Cinemark Legacy Plano, that shimmers with the PLUR — peace, love unity, respect — spirit that so many EDM adherents say they believe in.

Festivalgoer Jose, who has scoliosis and is confined to a wheelchair, has to enjoy EDC surrounded by a sea of standing bodies, rarely able to see the stage. So some of his fellow EDM fans lift him, chair and all, over their heads and pass him along, outstretched hand to outstretched hand. It’s crowd surfing as therapy and Jose is moved to tears.

“The thing is it’s different things to different people,” says Lipsitz in a phone interview about the passion with which some EDC fans treat the festival. “There’s certainly the community element and being one with the music and all these people who are so different from you ... [The fans] definitely tried to create a positive, warm, fun, inspirational environment.”

This is one of the elements that drew Lipsitz and Cutforth — whose background as either directors or producers includes the Katy Perry: Part of Me and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never docs as well as such reality-TV shows as Project Runway and Top Chef — to want to make a movie about the world of EDM. Once they gave it some thought, they decided to focus on the Electric Daisy Carnival.

“We had done music documentaries and felt there was something happening in the world of dance music,” says Cutforth by phone. “The experience of going to a dance-music festival is very singular. And Electric Daisy Carnival is really a connection to the story of dance music.”

Simultaneously, Pasquale Rotella, CEO of Insomniac, the company that stages EDC, approached them about a partnering on a movie. He became an executive producer. “It all came about serendipitously,” Cutforth explains.

The directors view EDC, which this year attracted upwards of 400,000 people, through the lens of several festivalgoers with a unique back story, including the aforementioned Jose; a group of guys called the Wolfpack who are getting over the death of a friend who overdosed; a 40-something couple finally tying the knot at EDC; and Sadie, a girl from Forney, Texas, for whom dance music is her only outlet.

In addition to their stories, Under the Electric Sky, which opens in North Texas on July 25 at Cinemark West Plano, features performances from some of the biggest names in the genre: Hardwell, Above & Beyond, Fatboy Slim, Afrojack, Avicii, Calvin Harris, Tiesto and Armin van Buuren among them.

What Under the Electric Sky doesn’t do is offer much context, history or any negative aspects associated with dance-music culture. For example, there’s no mention of the death during an EDC event in Dallas in 2011, the last time the festival was in North Texas.

Some of the reviews have even labeled it an extended commercial. Big Picture Big Sound called it “a pure love letter to the festival, its music, and the people who travel from all over the world to attend.”

Cutforth and Lipsitz shrug off such criticism.

“We definitely didn’t set out to make a hard-hitting documentary,” says Cutforth. “We wanted to make something mainstream and entertaining first and foremost ... The focus is on the fans and what it means.”

“If someone had died this year [2013], that’s something we would have put in the movie,” says Lipsitz. “But it was relatively quiet and EDC is a very well-run operation, they’re very smart, and they’ve been at this a long time.”

Besides, says Cutforth, EDC justifies the narrow approach as, in some ways, it’s bigger than EDM. “They will sell out even before anyone knows which DJs will be there,” he says. “It’s not about the lineup. It’s about the experience.”

Cary Darling, 817 390-7571

Twitter: @carydar

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