Photo from consequenceofsound.com
By Hunter Frederick
For the uninitiated, Electric Zoo (EZOO) is a 3-day electronic music festival that takes place during Labor Day weekend on Randall’s Island in New York City.
This year had a “Wild Island” theme. All the promo and signage at the event referring to festival-goers as “animals.”
The festival area comprised of 5 stages: Main Stage, Hilltop Arena, Riverside, Sunday School and Treehouse. Each stage featured a different style and mode of performance. DJs and artists performed a “set” of music for the attendees, ranging anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes long.
Sunday School had its usual bevy of uncharted artists that produced a day-long track of deep and chill house. It served as a calmer spot you can head to cool down but still keep the dance vibe going. The beat literally never stopped – it was amazing. Riverside was also super fun, although I was only there for a set or two. There was just something endearing about the sun setting behind a giant inflatable octopus-stage.
Hilltop was “lit”; there is no other way to explain it. From the satisfyingly filthy drops of artist like Getter and Bogore to the undeniable charm of Lil Dicky, the Hilltop arena wound up being a wilder party than the Main Stage itself. Still, the Main Stage had solid, constant performers. The two closing headliners I saw, Tiësto and Hardwell, definitely earned their spots closing on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
As for the Treehouse, the stage is literally no bigger than a standard cubicle. The sound system resembles what one would expect to see at a SBU Campus Lifetime event. I only ever passed through to fill up my water bottle.
The people you will meet at EZOO will often be dancing or just swaying and nodding their head to the beat, enjoying the event that they paid for. Beware of any users who constantly ask if you have got illegal substances with you and/or if you would spare a hit, puff, pull, sniff, etc. and the kind of people that like to dance shirtless and end up sweating on you. Gross.
An issue I had with Electric Zoo were their EZ Bucks, the festival’s proprietary form of currency. Cash, credit, or debit are used to load up a small plastic wristband with EZ bucks. This wrist band also functioned as your ticket to the festival.
I appreciate how streamlined everything is through the wristband, but the conversion rate from US dollars to EZ Bucks is 20 to 9. Twenty dollars, turns into 9 EZ Bucks, which is less than 50%. A lot of attendees often forgot putting money into their wristband and wound up paying insane prices.
Despite my gripes with the currency system, Electric Zoo is a still a great festival. After the attendee deaths in 2013 and serious inclement weather in 2014, ID&T, the company behind the festival, has given a lot of effort into restoring the EZOO name, and it shows.
EZOO pales in comparison to the some of the larger names, like the Electric Daisy Carnival or TomorrowLand. However, it serves as a good starter festival and help determine whether or not that kind of concert environment is for you.
Even if you do not attend all three days (as wristbands are sold by day and as a 3-day packages), Electric Zoo may provide an opportunity to spice up your Labor Day break next year.