Running alongside Labor Day weekend, on the visually pleasing Randall's Island, is one of America's biggest dance music festivals, Electric Zoo. Branded this year with the inquisitive 'Transformed' label the three day festival was somewhat smaller than its usual self, boasting only 85 acts - still an insane amount of music compared to the European festival scene. Along with the lineup blowing the English scene out the water, the sheer scale of the festival and general crowd is certainly something worth mentioning - expect a plethora of bright colours and truly extravagant costumes across the three days of partying.
With such a wide array of musical talent on show it’s a challenge enough knowing where to start. Taking the three headline slots were British duo Chemical Brothers, who have recently soared to the top of their game with their recent come back packed with chart smashing releases. Joining their fellow countrymen, Above & Beyond took control of the Saturday with Alesso closing the show on the Sunday.
Having left the 'EDM' scene as I began to discover the more underground sounds of Techno over the past four years I was immediately drawn towards the Awakenings double day stage. It was such a pleasure to see a such a well respected brand from the European sector finally pushing through to an American market that, away from the neon, dancing girls and Kandi bracelets, do understand a strong techno scene.
Wanting to experience the festival as a whole, I set out to see as many artists as possible over three days. Friday for me was dominated by a mesmerising set, playing within a gigantic black and white, trippy staging design that really helped take the show to another level. Playing cuts from Porter Robinson, Martin Solveig and of course a healthy helping Madeon originality, the Friday night certainly set an impressive tone for what lay ahead.
Saturday had everything you could possibly want once again, displaying everything from the dirtiest dubstep with Excision, to Trance with the masterful Ferry Corsten, to the deeper sounds of Kolsch where I decided to kick off my second installment of Electronic Zoo. Doing what he does best the Danish artist launched into a rhythmically driven and melodically captivating set which left me in awe still to this date. Above & Beyond also need a special mention for their beautifully crafted performance. The insane production that goes hand in hand with an American festival really had the chance to plume its feathers with A&B creating some seriously spine tingling moments. Forming a bond with the crowd through their personal messages on the big screen, the two, normally three guys brought both the old and new together in one of the best headline sets I've seen.
Deciding to keep it deep and techy for the Sunday, most of the day was spent in the old Awakenings arena which overnight had been transformed into the land of one of the scenes most influential man, Pete Tong. With the likes of Patrick Topping, Hot Since 82, Jonas Rathsman and the main man himself it's safe to say I'd be more than content with staying within these surroundings for the foreseeable future. Amine Edge & Dance brought the more American sounding tech house and bass sounds however stand out performance came from Leeds' Hot Since 82, whose rolling tech house grooves sat just right for a final day or partying.
One thing is for sure Americans know how to throw a festival. The crowd, staging, organization is just incomparable to elsewhere on this planet, transforming New York City into a rave capital for three days of pure madness that has something to offer for every brand of the electronic music tree.