Another year of our much-covered Electric Zoo has come and gone, this time with about 20,000 more attendees than last year’s inaugural events. As a matter of fact, the festival sold out both days. Make that three major US dance festivals in a row (EDC and Ultra being the previous ones) that have sold out in a summer concert season that has been quite dreary for most genres. Not even the clouds of flying dust on Randall’s Island could dissuade the dancing and revelry.
Proto, Shmurkio, Phange, and myself were the members of the LessThan3 crew who attended, and all of us couldn’t stop singing EZ’s praises after it was over. The representation of genres was a bit better than our last experience at EDC, so each set seemed like a welcomed palate cleanser from what we had just digested as well as in preparation for what we were about to hear.
Saturday, the weaker of the two days, started off with Gareth Emery at 12:30. This is where I will bring up my one complaint about Zoo this year – what was with some of the set times? I don’t know about you guys, but 12:30pm isn’t exactly the hour I am ready for Gareth Emery-style trance, nor is 1:30 the hour that I’m craving some Cosmic Gate (that was Sunday). But anyway, Gareth put on an excellent set as usual, although, to his and the crowd’s misfortune, the CDJs died right when he was dropping monster track (and personal favorite) Stranger To Stability, leaving the crowd with somewhat of musical blue-balls. Following Gareth, we caught about the last thirty minutes of Markus Schulz, who was dropping some unbelievable tech trance bombs, although unfortunately my favorite has not been ID’d yet. Stay tuned.
Afrojack was one highlight of the festival, as it was apparent he had a large fanbase there. His trademark Dirty Dutch sound was well-received, as was his newest hit Take Over Control – I was actually a bit surprised at the number of people who knew that track in the audience; surefire evidence that it is a hit in the making.
Axwell’s occasional tendency to overtalk during his sets was mostly absent at his Saturday set, where he was more than happy to provide us with some Teenage Crime and some Sweet Disposition, as well as some of his other current major hits – there are quite a few floating around! I think he should have been one of the only ones allowed to drop One at the festival though, as it is partially his own song. The track was a bit overplayed, if I do say so myself – I kept hearing that synth riff all over the place both days. I’m sure the Swedish House Mafia are quite happy about that, though.
We didn’t catch much of The Chemical Brothers, but what we did hear was an interesting, psychedelic turn from what we had heard the rest of the day. They had the best visuals that I saw by far – possibly because they’ve been around for so long so they’ve probably got quite the crew working for them at this point.
Sunday was really the day to be at Zoo–I was not the least bit disappointed with a single thing I heard all day. Starting off the day was a massive tech/minimal set done by three famous DJs in that scene–Matthias Tanzmann, Davide Squillace, and Martin Buttrich. Tech/minimal is a very “New York” scene, so it was good to see that these artists were getting ample representation.
Following the three minimal musketeers was the electro house deity himself, Laidback Luke. This man never ceases to amaze me – somehow he always manages to keep his sets very dynamic, playing tracks that most people aren’t playing in a scene completely dominated by electro house at the moment. This is not an easy task to achieve, but LBL has pulled it off every time I have seen him. One interesting moment was when Brooklyn native Jonathan Mendelson joined LBL onstage for their hit ‘Til Tonight, still a crowd favorite all these months later.
Above & Beyond really knows how to connect with their fans, which was apparent at their Sunday performance in the hilltop tent. Most of the tracks were recognizable to the crowd, which always helps, and the two-thirds of A&B who were there typed out messages to us dancing fools on a laptop, some unifying and some endearing, which elicited even more of a response. Suffice it to say that it is no small wonder that they have such an enormous fanbase. Well, Trance Around The World helps too, but you get what I’m saying.
Bassnectar was perhaps the highlight of my entire Zoo experience, possibly because he was one of the only artists I saw who I hadn’t seen prior to EZ. It was a raw, sweaty grindfest in the Redbull Academy tent, which had seen quite a few dubstep acts over the two days, including Rusko and Martyn. Bassnectar absolutely destroyed the very genre of dubstep though, with tastefully interwoven hip-hop beats and samples. I think Bassnectar’s highly advanced use of sampling may be among the best in EDM, if not the best. Biggie samples combined with Fugees samples and some serious WOB WOB made the crowd go absolutely wild. I am definitely sold on the Bass-man.
All in all, Electric Zoo 2010 was an unforgettable experience, and even more musically satisfying to me than EDC. I am very pleased that Made Event has decided to continue this franchise, and I hope the Zoo continues to be a hit for many years to come.
PS: if you are one of the many who asked us for LessThan3 shirts at the festival, do not fret – we should have a merch store up within the next couple of weeks!