Electric Zoo Recap

Every music festival across the globe inherits the aura and reputation of its host city. Electric Zoo in no exception to the rule: in a few short years, it has emerged as one of the wildest, most diverse and raucous festivals on the scene. In short, it encapsulates New York’s concrete jungle perfectly. It is the city that never sleeps, after all.

As I began my trek up to Randall’s Island, first on the subway and later on a bus, my fellow EZoo Animals had slowly begun to take over the city. On my walk to the subway, I caught glimpses of kandi and Spirit Hoods as they ducked in and out of the crowded streets. Day 1 of Electric Zoo was here and the city was about to get turned on its head.

Regardless of how you get to Randall’s Island, once you see the famed Icahn Stadium and hear the massive bass of the main stage you will inevitably get chills. As swarms of us rushed to the entrance the energy was immense. I had planned to spend most of my day at Group Therapy but went straight to the main stage first to catch Nicky Romero. The main stage at Electric Zoo is not for the faint of heart (EZoo staff was even showering those in front with water to keep them cool). Flags and totems were high the air as Romero dropped “Sparks,” his collaboration with Fedde Le Grand featuring Matthew Koma. I just wanted a glimpse of what would be in store for me later. The party was just really getting started and the main stage was in good hands.

I darted to the Hilltop tent to catch Gabriel & Dresden. Simply put, G&D sit on my top-ten list of greatest duos ever. I danced as hard to “Tracking Treasure Down” this time as I did the first time I heard it. I took one break to get water and I’m glad I did, since I walked past the Sunday School tent and caught about 15 minutes of Robert Dietz’s set. If I wasn’t such a big Gabriel & Dresden fan I would’ve stayed for the duration of Dietz’s performance. He’s on my short list of DJs to discover and follow.

I could go on and on about what everyone played but the three highlights of the night were Tommy Trash, David Guetta and A-Trak. Festivals are tough because you want to be everywhere at once but you can’t. Unfortunately, if a DJ can’t hold your attention for more than a minute, you’re probably going to head elsewhere. But those three blew my mind. Say what you will about Guetta, but he absolutely murdered his main stage set. Although some of the tracks would be played in other sets, no one wove them together like he did; ubiquitous tracks like “Troll” and “Million Voices” mixed in with his own diverse body of work showed why he was deserving of a headlining spot. Absolutely masterful.

My schedule for Day 2 was ambitious and unachievable, but I was going to give it my all. I made it to Randall’s Island just in time to catch Bingo Players playing “Rattle” on the main stage. The difference between Day 1 and Day 2 wasn’t simply a matter of the talent in the tents, but rather the sheer number of people who showed up. If Day 1 was crazy, Day 2 was going to be institutionally insane. Cell phones were rendered useless by early afternoon. My last tweet was about Dirtyphonics and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. With an exceptionally diverse mix of music, the French group was my favorite new discovery of EZoo; they dropped Marilyn Manson “Slow-Mo-Tion” and I was floored.

I hustled my way through the masses to catch Sander Van Doorn. He kills it every time he gets behind the booth, and this was no exception. The Zoo Animals were out in full force, too, completely uninhibited and toting inflatable kangaroos in honor of van Doorn’s newest single. Words cannot capture how awesome and creative the crowd was, nor can they describe how loud it got when Dada Life came on stage. Dada Life is exactly what you want them to be; they are the life of the party. They deliver every single time! Further, who ever created their light show deserves a day time Emmy. They opened with “Kick Out the Epic Mother Fucker” and played it again later. Their Knife Party vs, Beastie Boys – “Fight for your Rage Valley” Mashup drew an immense roar from the crowd, and my voice was beginning to go.

I was able to catch a few songs from all the remaining acts. I ran to and from Rusko, Axwell, Wolfgang Gartner, Datsik, Sasha, Steve Aoki, Chris Liebing, Benny Benassi and finally Above and Beyond… yes, really. I wanted to see at least a piece of everyone’s sets and I’m happy that I did. From hearing Axwell drop “Antidote” to seeing Aoki’s raft, I got to experience the best that Day 2 had to offer.

My plan for Day 3 was to spend most of the day at the main stage. I wanted to catch acts like Armada’s W&W and Dash Berlin, which I’ve seen and heard numerous times, as well as artists I’ve been dying to see, like Porter Robinson and Knife Party. But the act that caught my attention as I entered EZoo was Krewella; the Chicago natives opened with a monstrous bang and never let up. I then made my way to the main stage soon after and took in some sick sets. There is something really special about hearing a DJ spin his or her own productions live. Whether it was Dash Berlin’s “Better Half of Me,” Porter Robinson’s “Language” or Knife Party’s “Rage Valley.” I got to hear these tracks played they way they were meant to be played by the masters who created them.

I had a long night ahead of me so I chose to stay for just two more acts, and I chose wisely. Tiesto took the stage like a champion opening with “Chasing Summers.” The sun set as he played, and the sight was absolutely amazing. If my Electric Zoo 2012 ended there I would have been content, but I had to see Boys Noize, if only for a few minutes. I pulled into Sunday School to catch a DJ to whom at EZoo two years ago. Since then I haven’t missed a Boys Noize show in NYC. I had only planned to stay for a few minutes, but stayed until his set was over. I still can’t believe it all came to end just a few days ago. A part of me is still there at Sunday School, raising my hands in the air, waiting for the bass to drop.

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