Hurricane? What Hurricane? Electric Zoo Blows Away NYC

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New York City—It’s official, it seems: Electric Zoo easily defeated a weakened Hurricane Earl this past Labor Day weekend and blew away throngs of area electronic-dance music fans. Billed as New York’s Electronic Music Festival and presented by Made Event, the two-day festival—held at NYC’s Randall’s Island Park Sept. 4-5—hit capacity and drew nearly 50,000 fans, according to organizers. The high winds contributed to some treacherous dust-ups inside the festival’s three dance tents, though not so much its main stage—and we’re happy to report that the fans adapted quite nicely. By Day 2, many Zoo folks were covering their noses and mouths with surgical masks, just like Marcus Welby, and kerchiefs, just like Jesse James.

(For a look at this year’s Electric Zoo fashions, check out New York Magazine’s report from our pal, Amy Odell.)

Program-wise, this year’s EZ offered plenty of balance—perhaps a little more than last year’s inaugural event. Saturday’s lineup was thrillingly diverse. Highlights were plenty:
Fake Blood strafed the Red Bull Music Academy Riverside stage with plenty of big-room blam, plus a taste of his electro windup “I Think I Like It.” Then in the same tent, Rusko dropped a withering dubstep set—subs were taxed, weak bowels tested.

Over at the Sunday School Grove tent, Steve Bug dropped warm techno grooves; then, typically, Richie Hawtin carried everyone into the Twilight Zone.
But on the Main Stage to close the night, The Chemical Brothers were just plain overwhelming. Working heavily from their fine new release, Further, the duo punched out a whopping set, complete with enough visual aids to make the Merry Pranksters blush. With this set standing as more proof, The Chemical Brothers are probably the only festival act going that can make everyone else sound piddly.

Sunday’s trance-leaning program—which included genre giants Armin Van Buuren, Above & Beyond, Cosmic Gate and Sander Van Doorn—also featured its own notables:
At the Hilltop Arena, Avicii dropped an energetic and well-received set, a mixed bag of genres leaning heavily on vocals, as in his frenetic hit “My Feelings for You” and his anthemic mix of Tim Berg’s “Bromance.”

On the main stage, Moby did his retro-rave thing. Wearing a Bad Brains t-shirt—but no pictures, please—he worked his winning formula of gorgeous pianos, testifying vocals and crowd interaction. “I See the Stars,” indeed.

Back at the Sunday School Grove, the trio of Martin Buttrich, Matthias Tanzmann and Davide Squillace tag-teamed an irresistible two-hour DJ set of spectacular grooves and properly twitchy techno—the festival’s best.
—Jim Tremayne