Electric Zoo 2011 Review

Electric Zoo 2011 Review

by Taryn Haight
09.07.2011


Electric Zoo hit New York City this past weekend with a force so strong that it could have easily rivaled Hurricane Irene. Seriously, Mayor Bloomberg should have warned others not attending to hunker down and stock up on water.

For three days, ravers, ragers and all sorts of EDM-fueled fanatics ferry-ed and shuttled their way onto Randall's Island looking to channel their animal instincts and kick up some dust to bass-infused dubstep, classic house, minimal techno and everythin`g in between.

Friday attracted the lightest crowd of the three days with a total of 25,000 festival-goers in attendance. (Saturday and Sunday each brought in 30,000 people, capping off the total for the weekend at 85,000). Artists like Nick Catchdubs who kicked off the festival at 11 a.m. and Serge Devant who hit the main stage just before noon set the vibe for the weekend off right.

“It was very cool to start the main stage,” said Devant. “Got to play tracks I wouldn't normally play in the set and set the vibe for the rest of the day. Tested tracks from my new album ‘Recollected’ that's out in November and people turned up nice and early so it felt great.”

The crowd continued in throughout the day for Felguk at 1:30 p.m. and young beatmakers AN21 and Max Vangeli at 2:20 p.m., but the sea of people really started to amass heavily by the time Rusko got on just around 5 p.m.. Funky womps and a bit of hip-hop flavor graced the set in true Rusko fashion. Following his performance, Benny Benassi took to the main stage, starting his set with the traditional house beats he’s famous for and ending with even a bit of dubstep, which was shocking, but not at all disappointing for the crowd who seemed to like watching the iconic DJ switch up his style. Sebastian had the most talked-about show of the day, which you can catch a snippet of in the video below.

Not only did the pure Ed Banger/French electro DJ captivate the crowd with his powerful sound and stoic motions, but the Redbull Stage on which he performed (which was set up with four LCD cubes projecting mind-bending visuals) was the most visually appealing of all four stages.

Carl Cox was one of the most high-energy sets of the day, full of techno, acid and amped-up rhythms that had his entire audience in a frenzy. While he closed down the Sunday School stage, Tiesto took to the main stage for a two-hour set. Meanwhile, I was bummed to catch word that the Plastikman production, which was intended to close out the Hilltop Arena stage, was a no-go due to “unforeseen circumstances caused by Hurricane Irene.” However, Richie Hawtin didn’t let that stop him from putting on a stellar-sounding show with a visual production by Ali Demiral.

“My production team has been on site in NYC since Tuesday working alongside the Electric Zoo production team preparing for this show, and they have done everything within their powers to address the challenges that have been presented at the event. Sadly it has not worked out,” said Hawtin. “We are excited, in light of the situation, that we are able to present this LED visual show similar to the shows that we present at other festivals around the world".

After an exhausting first day, crowds rallied and headed back to the Zoo for Day 2 of the festival. While it didn’t seem like the lineup could top the day before, the Saturday lineup kicked off with a wild dance party early-on with Daedelus on the main stage at noon and masked beat-maker SBTRKT on the Red Bull Riverside stage at 12:15 p.m.. After Kid Sister and Beardyman followed SBTRKT, keeping the vibe upbeat and animated, the young but well-versed Porter Robinson hit the crowd at the Red Bull stage with some new and other little-known bangers, taking the cake for my favorite Saturday show.

"Electric Zoo was a fantastic time,” said Porter. “The crowd was highly energetic and the people seemed educated on the music; my favorite audiences are those who know the more obscure tunes that I play."

The day continued with big name after big name from Above & Beyond to Dirty South to 12th Planet (who was joined on stage by Skrillex), David Guetta (who debuted a song to his U.S. fans), Joachim Garraud and Bloody Beetroots.

Sunday, the last day of the festival, was a struggle for those of us yielding a three-day pass. I do have to commend Made Event, however, for choosing to schedule the last day on Sunday, so partygoers could rest their legs on Labor Day rather than try (and likely fail) to make it to work the day after. But crowds definitely didn’t dwindle on the final day of Electric Zoo, showing up early to catch Tokimonsta at 11 a.m. and Felix Cartal at noon on the main stage.

“It was amazing to get to play the main stage at a big festival!,” said Cartal. “The perfect end to summer.”

Big Gigantic and Calvin Harris were obvious crowd-pleasers as the day progressed, while DJ Snoopadelic (yes, that would be Snoop Dogg’s DJ alter-ego) drew a curious crowd that I’m not sure was impressed by his song selection. Chromeo continued on the main stage with their trademark synthy beats and Robert-Palmer-styled backup dancers as Nicolas Jaar took to the Sunday School grove tent proving that there’s a place and much respect for live musicians in a sea of deejayed dance tents. 

As the night fell on the final day of Electric Zoo, Gabriel & Dresden cranked up the energy at the Redbull stage.

“It's not often in a DJ's day that the anticipation for a show pays off into something better than imagined, but that's exactly how our Electric Zoo experience was this year,” they said. “We were given a packed tent of our fans and that allowed us to play everything from our most loved classics to the obscure new tracks from our new Armada Music compilation Mixed For Feet, Vol 1. Bravo goes out to Made Events for once again giving the us and the fans the platform for something we won't soon forget!”

Afrojack took on a massive crowd at the main stage, debuting a new track, which you can watch him drop to a sea of festivalgoers below. It was nice to hear new stuff throughout the weekend rather than a repeat of SHM’s “Save The World Tonight” and the Skrillex/Benny Benassi collaboration “Cinema” which are killer tunes, don’t get me wrong, but definitely worn out by day 3.

Although Boys Noize, Infected Mushroom, Armin and Richie Hawtin played the final beats of the festival, Diplo was my last show of my three-day stint, leaving the weekend on a high note full of bangers from all over the board (including “Look at Me Now”) and lights that probably caused a couple of seizures.

All in all, the weekend was a success. Props to Made Event, the dumpling truck, beautiful weather, talented DJs and lots and lots of Redbull, making Electric Zoo 2011 one to rival years to come.
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