Whether you were at last year’s Electric Zoo, NYC’s biggest and most notorious electronic music festival, or not, the chances are pretty likely that you heard about the final day’s cancellation, delivered straight from Bloomberg’s office as related to the “serious health risks” posed by the event. The decision sparked massive controversy and upset tens of thousands of would-be festival goers who were excited for the final day of the festival. The events that spurned the decision were undoubtedly tragic – two deaths – but many, including myself, were disappointed that the questionable actions of so few could mean an early ending to the weekend for so many. Even worse, the longtime reputation of the famous festival (and, frankly, dance music in general) became undoubtedly tarnished on its fifth anniversary, despite the best efforts of the organizers to provide help to those who needed it and to keep festival goers hydrated and happy.
Made Event, the company responsible for the event, has gotten back up on the horse, however, and have postitioned Electric Zoo for a strong return – same time, same place. This Labor Day weekend, the massive event will once again take over Randall’s Island for three full days jam-packed with DJ’s and producers from all ends of the spectrum, from the most mainstream to some of the most underground.
Having attended Electric Zoo for four of its five years thus far, I’m glad to see Zoo dust itself off and make a strong return to the Big Apple. The organizers have always managed to make a tremendous event out of increasingly mediocre and irresponsible crowds and a venue with limited space for the vast attendance numbers. This year, Zoo again shows their willingness to innovate, bringing back the dual main stages from last year to satisfy the mainstream crowds, while expanding upon the underground Sunday School brand with a Vinyl Only stage.
On the mainstream side, all the heavy hitters are in attendance, including David Guetta, who’s likely still tripping acid from his psychedelic journey in Belgium, Nicky Romero, Zedd, Armin Van Buuren, Knife Party, Kaskade, Alesso and the much anticipated Jack U (Skrillex & Diplo). Even relatively new stars like Oliver Heldens and The Chainsmokers will be making an appearance on the mainstages. The lineup is mind-bogglingly huge, almost as if were intended to make up for last year’s catastrophe. Notably absent this year, however, are longtime Zoo’ers Tiesto and Above & Beyond.
Electric Zoo has always maintained a strong dedication to its roots as a true electronic music festival, however, and not just an EDM fuck fest. That spirit is as alive as ever this year with what’s sure to be some knockout performances from the likes of Sasha, Victor Calderone, Dubfire, Hot Since 82 and many more coming through the Sunday School Grove. Tech-house not your bag? Every other genre is represented somewhere or another on the lineup, spread out amongst the Riverside and Hilltop Arena stages; Griz bringing his edgy electro-soul, Brillz with his relentless trap tunage, Gestaffelstein blowing eardrums and some chunky disco from Kill Paris, just to name a few.
Lineup aside, I know many people my age may be reading this and wondering what could be so amazing about an 18+ festival, headlined by some of the biggest (and least respected, in some circles at least) names in electronic music – one that played scene to several MDMA-related deaths last year no less. To truly understand, you must attend to see the music and energy for yourself. Electric Zoo may not follow in the footsteps of so many newer “glam” festivals like Tomorrowworld and Mysteryland but has always focused on being a definitive event for people of all music tastes, giving them the opportunity to come together and celebrate what makes electronic music so inspiring in the greatest city in the world. Hope to see you all there.