NEW YORK, NY—Remember that scene in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World when his band went up against the Katayanagi Twins and giant creatures materialized from their sound and battled each other? Well, that’s pretty much the best description I can give of this year’s Electric Zoo on Randall’s Island. Three tents and one giant main stage dominated the island and when moving between each space you felt the battle between each DJ rattling in your head.
Electric Zoo was one of the best festivals I’ve been to in a really long time. Everything from the helpfulness of the security guards to the overall chill attitude of fans and the eclectic mix of food stands made this event a great experience. It would take forever to go over all the artists of the weekend, especially with activities going on simultaneously on each stage the entire day.
I’ll start off with the one artist whose music seemed to be incorporated in almost every other artists’ sets. Skrillex, whom I still only see as that singer of From First To Last, has become one of the scene’s most popular DJs with his dubstep dabbling. The crowd he drew and the control he had over them was immense, especially when he played “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites” and his remix of Benny Benassi’s “Cinema.”
While Skrillex remained atop the DJ booth on stage with his enormous hipster glasses, the main stage artists were able to move about a lot more. From Benny Benassi to Moby, both men took time to engage the audience. Gary Go came out provided vocals for Benassi’s “Cinema,” and Moby, whom I thought to be merely a purveyor of mellow, chill beats, got up on the DJ table and danced along with the audience to his own trancey concoctions. AfroJack also made quite the splash with a huge crowd cheering the whole time and he gave them what they wanted halfway through with “Control.”
Away from the main stage were the tents that even in the daylight, darkened the dance floor and allowed for the light setups to be really showed off. You had artists like SebastiAn, who embodied their music with a sexy, blasé attitude, smoking and drinking while mixing. Diplo was a prime example of how the DJs hypnotized the audience with fast-paced, straight-up dance music that felt inescapable. My favorite to show was the Super Mash Bros, who took everything from Michael Jackson to No Doubt and intertwined them perfectly with a video mash-up on the screen behind them.
I was impressed when a couple artists actually had live bands. Chromeo brought it to the main stage with songs like “Bonafide Lovin,” with stylish back-up singers, singing Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing.”
A really intriguing set came from Nicolas Jaar, who just released his debut album, Space Is Only Noise, off his own label, and brought a whole band with him that created an intense jazz, funk, dance mixture. Another amazing set came from trance group Infected Mushroom, who fulfilled a bit of yearning I had to hear something industrial-like. They also had devilish blow-up mushrooms on stage that embodied the band, who appeared oh-so happy to be there.
Probably the best of the weekend was David Guetta. He had just released his fifth studio album, Nothing But The Beat, and played his latest track “Without You” for the first time in New York City. When he wasn’t thanking fans for all their support with his French accent, he ventured into a whirlwind of pure dance beats. It’s no surprise to see how popular he is within the dance community and the mainstream. My only wish is that he will be at next year’s festival.