Electric Zoo @ Randall’s Island

NEW YORK, NY—The fifth installment of Electric Zoo was set to outdo previous years, expanding the grounds with a second main stage. A heavy lineup of the biggest names in the EDM scene spanned over three days and there were a couple artists performing incognito. However, the weekend took a tragic turn and festivalgoers woke on the third day to somber news.

Over the first two days, two attendees, both in their early 20s, died from drug overdoses and about four concertgoers were hospitalized. The city ofNew Yorkasked for the last day to be canceled, which was carried out by promoters and everyone had the families of those lost in their thoughts.

This brings the issue of drug use in the dance music scene in the spotlight. It’s no surprise people partake in drug use while at concerts and let’s also not forget how plentiful alcohol was on the grounds. So where can the blame be placed? Was what they took a bad dose or has using become commonplace and is just part of the concert experience to the younger generation?

Another question is how this will affect the future of Electric Zoo or any other festival. Through the festival’s phone app and on-site security, statements were continually being made to rest, eat, help others and drink water, with plenty of medic tents on the grounds. There was even water being offered for free. With all this available, these deaths should have been avoided.

But the music had played those first two days and following is a recap of the music and sights.

Upon walking through the main gate, it was as if I was overlooking a sea of people. This year certainly had grown and climbing down the stairs to the new second stage, I thought this was the landing area for aliens to take EDM enthusiasts to their own planet. With the light show each artist brought, I’m sure those in the neighboring boroughs thought something extraterrestrial was going on.

The first day was an eclectic build-up to the night’s headliner, Avicii. From Alesso to Excision then Kill The Noise, the beats got harder and seemingly louder as the night sky came down. The act not to have missed was Big Gigantic, who performed on another new stage this year.

The Hilltop Arena tent featured a rotating circular stage, making it easy for all fans to have an up-close view, and it was interesting seeing Big Gigantic play the saxophone and drums alongside their computerized beats from all angles. Then you also had the stage come out at you with the Riverside tent making the last act there 3D. This night, Dog Blood was up, and is composed of Skrillex and Boys Noize. They were mysterious and together, harder than Skirllex’s normal dubstep beats.

To end the first night, it was a bit of bouncing back and forth between stages for fans. Benassi stuck to his staples that never disappoint and Knife Party took over the stage once Benassi said goodbye. Avicii did not play as many mainstream hits as I thought he would have, but it was a spectacular party ending with his current radio single “Wake Me Up.”

If you weren’t tired from the first day, the second would make sure you were. The day started early and had acts such as Cazzette, Bingo Players and Sander Van Doorn thrown in the mix. The evening turned into a tour de force starting with Dada Life, whose unique beats matched the visuals projected on stage, with Adventure Time-like cartoons playing.

One odd and otherworldly artist was Bassnectar, who was an interesting presence on stage with long hair that made him seem like he was headbanging as he moved about against a kaleidoscope of lights. Even more trippy was A-Trak, one half of Duck Sauce, who closed out the 3D tent and was one of the few who mixed in pop hits with his beats.

David Guetta and Tiesto went back to back on the one main stage, closing out the night. They were a breath of fresh air with easy dance music and worth the price of admission. Acts like Krewella, Diplo, Zedd and Steve Aoki were set for the final day, but now will have to wait till next year. Fans did have the chance to still dance the night away as after parties went on at various NYC clubs.