The main stage at this summer’s Electric Daisy Carnival featured a ten-story animatronic owl whose ‘shroomy eyes glowed and glittered while a phalanx of elements—fire, water, wind in the form of fog—danced around it. It was the style of light show one expects to encounter solely at raves, or in Vegas, or raves in Vegas (so often the twain do meet).
And yet: last night’s third-season debut of ABC’s annual reality competition show The Great Christmas Light Fight proved that there is one more locale for rave visuals and pyro, if one accepts this mission—in the suburban driveways of extravagant 20-somethings whose parents are chill enough to let them fiddle around with the electricity bill.
In the case of Matt Phipps, 25-year-old proprietor of Livermore Lights in Livermore, California, this translates to a fucking spectacle of a come-up experience and the sole reason I realized that this is my favorite holiday, when everyone else gets on my level and appreciates the life-affirming experience that is the rave-oriented light show.
Phipps told host/judge Taniya Nayak—the interiors qween from Restaurant Impossible—that he’s been programming his parents’ light show since he was 14. His hard work shows because he has turned their lot into a place I would like to throw a party, and has created an experience with every single element from the professionals at EDC, minus the scary bird. Midway through watching his show, Nayak goes, “I feel like I’m in Vegas!” Um, yeah girl. At which point you lament that ABC is giving us some third-tier Disney ride tripe on the track instead of something like:
Though the competition was stiff—shout to the 64-year-old grandma from Ocela who puts up all 200,000 lights by herself—Phipps and Livermore Lights ultimately won the Christmas Light Fight, bagging a check for $50k and a weird trophy in the shape of an oversized Christmas light bulb. The wild part was that Phipps didn’t even seem that stoked—he was more interested in showing off his work to Nayak again.
For all that is good and holy, can someone at a corporate rave promotions company hire this dude for a job? The instincts are on point, the design is impeccable, and Phipps didn’t even seem to comprehend how sick his mind could get. From a 2010 interview in the Livermore Patch:
It has 40,000 lights, 30-foot water geysers, 80 computer-controlled channels, 30 floodlights, a high-definition projection, and a 20-foot mega tree. You drive up to the house, tune to the radio station posted outside, and enjoy your own personal Christmas light show.
Matt! Come rave with me!
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