The sun finally shined down, in more ways than one, on Electric Zoo New York this year. The festival needed an event that was borderline supercalifragilistic to bounce back from two previous dramatic and rather tragic years. And 2016’s Zoo, delivered…hard. The fest was blessed with breezy weather, an adrenaline-infused crowd, and stages with tentacles meters long. The surprising mash of seasoned talent with fresh-breath acts made for a weekend filled with raveiness.
Jackal’s early set
Marketed as Electric Zoo Transformed, an attempt to reinvent the festival’s blunders, EZ brought the heat, with five stages and installations all containing zoo-y spins. Each day began early—the first sets kicking off at 1 PM, typically a pregame or rest period for most attendees. But the early sets were ones actually worth getting rave-ready for, particularly Jackal. The bass-heavy Saturday performance in the tented Hilltop Arena was filled with colorful visuals featuring herds of animals running and moving in time to the beat of songs like “Animal Style” and “Chinchilla,” and with a tag like Jackal, the U.K. DJ-producer fit seamlessly with the immersive zoo theme. The dynamic set drew a crowd of early-risers needing a boost to make it through Day 2.
Alison Wonderland spun an absolute falling-down-rabbit-hole type set. The tiny Australian stood scratching at her discos creating electrifying mixes of hip-hop, trap, future bass, and R&B. Her debut album Run was released in March and created much hype. Her set had a strong taste of Run but was also expertly mixed in deep bass instrumentals with hip hop favorites. One of the best sets of the weekend, for sure.
Transformed, for real
Randall’s Island Park seemed like a totally different EDM village than previous years, as the landscape took on a whole different format. Talk of the more logical layout could be heard passing through the crowds.
To go along with the “zoo” theme of Electric Zoo, this year’s fest featured two animal-inspired stages. The four stages were modernized and ravified as well, each cultivating their own unique flavor and atmosphere. The Hilltop stage brought the heat, with an enclosed tent and nightclub environment. It featured high quality lighting, visuals, and trickling water from the roof to cool off dancers. It was sweltering, but people loved it.
Across the way from the massive, bird-themed main stage sat the smaller but more intricate Riverside stage. Surrounded by rich forestry and encased with an inflatable, black and white backdrop with an octopus-like design, you thought you were tripping even if you weren’t tripping…Trippy right? Thomas Jack and Markus Schulz performed here, and were two of the better performances of the weekend.
Adventure Club’s New Music
Adventure Club definitely gets an honorable mention for releasing a ton of new music during EZOO. It seemed every song was one they’d never played before. And their afterparty at Webster Hall? Well…pretty legit, too. There was no shortness of fan love—the group featured seven special guests from Electric Zoo on stage.
The coveted ‘Best of the Fest’ award has to go to Alesso. Alesso has clearly learned a lot from his mentors in Swedish House Mafia and may have surpassed them as the perfect main-stage EDM act. The closing set of the festival was dynamic and cutting-edge. A mesh of Z100 songs dripping with Alesso boomed through the speakers. Popular singles like Maroon 5’s “This Summer’s Gonna Hurt Like a Motherfucker,” were paired with trippy, energy packed beats. He finished off with his noticeably more popular hits like “Heroes,” and “Sweet Escape,” and the crowd was going wild, a perfect end to a getting-closer-to-perfect Electric Zoo. Check the Alesso closing set to reach a level of jealousy you didn’t know existed.