For two whole days, Electric Zoo shook Randall’s Island with music from the world’s best electronic artists. A veritable 1990s time-capsule, the event drew a crowd from all corners of the globe and all walks of life: an older set of aficionados settled on rattan sofas in the VIP tent, thirtysomethings aired out their rave pants, 80’s babies savored mash-ups, and the kids—um—excuse me, teenager crews provided ample canvases for the face and body painters on deck.
With a bus ride, a crossing over the footbridge, and a short stroll past Icahn Stadium, I finally arrived at Electric Zoo’s main gate around 1PM. In the five minutes it took to scoot through security, I saw a black faerie with wings, a guy dripping in colorful plastic beads (pacifier already in place), and a gal completely body-painted with tiger stripes. Such sights were indicative of the mayhem ahead.
Once admitted, the dance party erupted at the Sunday School Grove. A hearty off-the-water wind blew through, swirling the dust and dirt stirred up by a crowd pulsing to Dutch phenom Joris Voorn’s innovative house grooves.
Paul Kalkbrenner took over the Grove and doled out delicious beats: the perfect soundtrack for watching a frenzied swarm sprint for the beginning of the LA Riots set down below at the Red Bull Music Academy stage. Other notable Saturday moments include Claude VonStroke’s remix of Sister Nancy’s “Bam Bam,” the hilarious human hurricane that tore through Erol Alkan’s “Sandstorm” tribute, feeling thirteen and awkward again when ATB got up, and dancing from Dirty South on the Main Stage to Chuckie at the Hilltop Arena. With all the airborne dirt and mayhem, Electric Zoo got a new Twitter hashtag: #ravedustbowl.
As the sun dipped behind the New York skyline, Pretty Lights lived up to its name and Benny Benassi made a great amuse-bouche for the evening. Saturday’s headliners, The Chemical Brothers (above) capped off a great day with a sensory overload of oscillating grooves, a video-display of angry robots, and laser beams so bright that sunglasses were in order.
Sunday morning included a late start and a sneeze-fest of dirt, neither which stopped me from getting to Electric Zoo by 2PM. Back on the island, I envied those who brought medical masks to avoid inhaling enough dirt to build an atoll. Sans mask, I chugged a 5-hr energy and blasted through security.
Back at the Sunday School Grove, my legs had that marathon-dancing ache which melted away once the triple threat of Martin Buttrich, Matthias Tanzmann, and Davide Squillace took over the Grove for a two hour set which included Squillace’s latest crowd-pleaser, “Cubism.”
The 5-hr Energy seemed more like 3-hrs after the triple threat at the Grove so I decided to nosh an arepa on a patch of grass next to electro-kinetic artist Jason Krugman’s humanoid sculptures in the middle of the field. Moby delivered a well-received DJ set on the Main Stage followed by Boys Noize and Fedde Le Grand, who dropped a note-worthy remix of Empire of the Sun’s “Walking on a Dream.”
Back up at the Grove, Victor Calderone gave a preview of what’s to come for NYC’s newest mega-club, District 36. Over at the Red Bull Music stage, A-Trak’s dance music badassery melted the rave dustbowl into a sweaty soup which Bassnectar later stirred into an ethereal melange of green enthusiasm and dirty electrobeats.
By the time Armin van Buuren and Aoki took their respective stages, the 5-hr energy was totally gone. Second hand accounts confirm that both van Buuren and Aoki made good on their international fame with savory sets.
With an estimated 50K in attendance and second year under its belt, Electric Zoo is on its way to becoming a full-fledged annual favorite. So long as Electric Zoo continues to bring top international and domestic artists from across the electronic spectrum it will uphold its title as New York’s premier electronic music festival.
Photos provided by:
(two girls Electric Zoo tees)
Bennett Sell-Kline for ElectricZooFestival.com
(Joris Voorn, Buttrich/Tanzmann/ Squillace, Fedde Le Grand)
Scott Kowalchyk for ElectricZooFestival.com
(The Chemical Brothers)