Electric Zoo @ Randall’s Island Park

NEW YORK, NY—Looks like the word is out on Electric Zoo. This year’s dance music festival was bursting at the seams with concertgoers, making the already large concert space on Randall’s Island almost impossible to move about. And this is why the only thing you could do was join in and dance along with the crowd in order to get from stage to stage.

The layout flow is what Electric Zoo gets right, lining up tents next to each other with enough space to gently bleed each artist’s sounds with the other as you walk through. The main stage took a minute to get to, but with the intense and sometimes fiery visual show, you wouldn’t want those lights reflecting into any of the tents that allowed for their space to be night any time of the day.

With David Guetta, Tiesto, Axwell and Skrillex bringing in big visual shows and some scary pyrotechnics, there was no denying them the main stage for takeover. David Guetta rounded out the first night with his mainstream dance music that ended with his collaboration with Usher on “Without You.” To close the festival turned out to be Skrillex, whose DJ platform, similar to the spidery, mechanical creature on some of his album covers, moved about the stage.

Another interesting and unique stage setup featured this year was 3D vision for a few sets, the first coming from A-Trak, who is also one half of Duck Sauce. Even without the 3D glasses, the layering of the screens, with the artists themselves projected on them, was enough to have you feeling as though you were moving right alongside the artists.

I finally got my chance with the 3D effect for one of the top artists of the weekend, Diplo. Mixing up some of the harder side of the electronic weekend, he provided a lot of Space Invader style visuals. The 3D novelty was a nice effect and was pulled off well. If you were looking to get a bit more involved in the music, Steve Aoki’s set was where to be, with Aoki crowd surfing along with several other current traditions of his stage show that involved audience participation.

Going back to my earlier statement of the seemingly overcrowded grounds, sets from Aoki, Zedd and Zeds Dead were impossible for me to wind my way through the masses that gathered under the tents for each. One artist I almost missed because of this was Wolfgang Gartner, who remained in the shadows as dark and hip-hop infused beats moved the crowd. Also to hide from the crowd were The Bloody Beetroots, who remained masked during their set.

The festival was full of love and chill attitudes. Dance music is all about borrowing from others’ beats and it felt as though fans reacted more when tracks of other artists were mixed by those replicating them. After Mord Fustang’s ‘cooler than you’ electro beats were winding down, Martin Solveig took a minute before taking over the controls to applaud Mord. Then it was off for Solveig, who was getting ready for his American release of his album Smash, “Hello” included.

While Skrillex remained the crowd’s dubstep favorite, I had to crown my own champion of the genre and hype man as 12th Planet. No over-the-top frills or gimmicks, it was good at times during the festival to have artists like 12th Planet and Rusko, who just kept with the music and smiled as much as the fans dancing.

I was a little disappointed with Dev’s set. Obviously, I did not expect a long set from the dance music songstress as others on the bill, but she ran through maybe four or five of her top hits and left the stage almost as fast as things started. Bummed out, but not for long as no matter where you went, you were bound to find entertainment. Sometimes just the reaction of the crowd, especially to favorites like Bingo Players and Knife Party, made you forget there was another world outside the island.