Electric Zoo: Back in the New York Groove

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A scene from Electric Zoo By Doug Van Sant

A scene from Electric Zoo By Doug Van Sant

New York City—Once again, Electric Zoo brought the noise to NYC’s Randall’s Island. According to organizer Made Event, the third-annual EDM mega-fest drew more than 85,000 fans to its four stages of multi-genre frivolity—and DJ Times was there for the whole wobbly thing this past weekend (Sept. 2-4). To the highlights…

Lesson #1 Learned This Year: Trance does not get along with daylight. Above and Beyond’s Saturday afternoon set paled in comparison to ATB’s rock-solid evening rager.

High Marks for Sunday School: The tent featuring Carl Cox and Friends gets an A+ for trippy, techy, and brain-tickling beats. With headliners like Josh Wink, Carl Cox, and Danny Tenaglia, this stage was for the DJ’s DJs and was appropriately covered in moon rocks for each jock’s intergalactic journey. Cox started his Friday closing set with Green Velvet’s classic “Flash,” which we also later heard on Sander Van Doorn’s superb Sunday main-stage performance.

Playing to the Masses: “You know how when you see a musical, they play a medley of all of the songs at the beginning?” Perhaps that’s not the most generous way to describe a global DJ’s gig, but that was a friend’s take on Tiësto’s ClubLife set. It was the first time we’d seen him since his ’09 Kaleidoscope tour, but I wasn’t surprised by his mass-pleasing alterna-dance-pop choices, clearly reflective of his current Vegas residency. (One hopes his upcoming collegiate tour with Porter Robinson will prove more musically challenging.)

But Tiësto wasn’t the only jock guilty of mass-appeal sins, as DJ Snoopadelic (aka rapper Snoop Dogg) rolled out his “Now That’s What I Call the ’90s” iPod playlist Sunday afternoon. “Smoke Weed Everyday,” indeed—especially if we wanna erase our short-term memories of that one.

Under the Radar: The most pleasing surprises came from John Dahlbäck on the main stage and Fake Blood on the Hillside Arena, a stage clearly engineered with Daft Punk-like performances in mind. Sweden’s Dahlbäck played just the right house mix without trying to “Save The World Tonight,” while Fake Blood (aka U.K. jock Theo Keating) effectively brought the electro-crunch.

Fashion & Culture: Neon was the real winner in this year’s sartorial battle between Ravers and Juiceheads. One classy raver gal even accessorized her black booty shorts with Tory Burch flats and a Fendi bag—a far cry from West Coast style where tutus and generic slutwear are the norm.

Of course, back in the Land of the Fist Pump, it wasn’t odd to see one shirtless meathead riding the shoulders of another, as was witnessed during Van Doorn’s set—a two-headed Roid Monster, flashing pecs to the SVD’s “Koko Loko” beats. Grrr.

And from the World of Bass: Though I wasn’t there to see it, here’s the succinct report from our intrepid photographer Ashley Suszczynski, immediately after a manic set from one of the world’s most popular jocks: “Skrillex just melted this place!” Yow.

It’s no longer big news that electronic-dance music is back in America’s consciousness, but the big shows—like Electric Zoo, NYC’s premier DJ-driven festival—are doing their best to make sure that it doesn’t go away again. Bravo.

– Natalie Raben

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