Before I begin, I must remind people that what you are going to read is my personal opinion of the festival, one I had the great pleasure to witness in New York City this past Labour long weekend. My musical taste has evolved with time and I thank all the deejays that have played and are still spinning in Montreal, in a way or another they have all influenced my taste for music, being trance or house and all the hyphenated styles in between.
It was too much fun to have the privilege to party for two days to the sound of some of the best deejays I've seen in a long time. Yes indeed, I was invited to another event happening not far away from Randall's Island, unfortunately, for this other event, Electric Zoo was able to captivate me for the whole time.
The idea was to arrive early on Saturday, in order to avoid the big line to get in, but it never happens, specially when you have to synchronize the schedule of more than one person, so by the time we were walking by the entrance it was already 3:00pm and I had already missed Paul Kalkbrenner set (saw him in Berlin once and he was divine). Let me tell you something, when I heard the music, and looked towards the main stage, which was located in the "valley" of the park, and saw the whole place packed there was nothing else that would stopped me from getting goose bumps, it was just I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E.
Getting in was another story, you could see where everyone had to go, not because someone was telling you but because this was where everyone was standing holding a ticket in their hands, we could not see where the actual entrance was - Love Parade in Germany was the first thing that came to my mind. It took us more or less 45 minutes to get checked, if that is what you call it, and then ticket scanned to get your bracelet - I spoke to people that waited for 1h30 and they were not happy campers, but when you have a big festival like this one, you know you will encounter some problems, you just don't have to let those "minors" details to get you down.
The Zoo people had established 4 locations for what the undercover police car called, while we were walking the bridge towards the island they blasted thru its speakers, "you suck party ravers". Let me tell you that was funny, and there were tons of suck ravers in this place. There was the main stage (with no tent), two big tents one called Red Bull Music Academy Riverside Stage and another the Hilltop Arena, and a smaller and cozy tent called the Sunday School Grove. Personally after looking at the schedule for both days I had the feeling that most of my time was going to be spent at the Sunday School Grove area, and that made me a happy man and I'm still smiling.
Right at the beginning I could hear Claude VonStroke really rocking the boat with his ghettotech music, and I wished I actually had the chance to dance to his sound, but unfortunately I was too busy pushing myself thru the gates.
Not too long after you had entered the premises of the festival, you encountered a minor problem that I had not been warned about it, or maybe people did not remember from previous year, dust. Oh my gosh! The weekend was just gorgeous, great weather, blue sky everywhere, dry like a monkey, and the result? well, imagine thousand of suck party ravers dancing at the same time and you have a cloud of dust everywhere. If you look for pictures or videos in the internet, you will notice people wearing their t-shirts or bandanas in their faces, why? Because the dust was too much and it was making breathing difficult for a lot of people. Reports were that at the emergency tent, people were arriving with asthma attacks, and after a while your throat started to hurt and coughing was under way. The practical solution was to take your t-shirt off and rolled it around your face, and it worked for me.
My believe is that the Piknic Electronik, people from Montreal, should talk to the Zoo people and lend them their fake grass carpets, so suck party ravers can enjoy their time at this other festival. I do not believe this type of carpet is expensive, and yes, I do not expect the main stage to have it, but it would help big time in the 3 tents.
Guys, there was so much talent to chose from, if you had decided to experience it all, you probably wouldn't had enjoyed the festival, it is like visiting 22 countries in Europe for 5 days, not a good thing. I did wonder around but the Sunday School Grove tent was my home away from my second (((Home))).
Afrojack was really incredible, I personally wasn't expecting, and ATB was a total disappointment, who booked this guy for god sakes? I could had done better by playing his CD in my living room, and the bonus would had been that I wouldn't had stopped the music or talked. It is a festival and I want to see you work the crowd, and ATB you had the main stage man, wtf?
Pete Tong was grooving the Hilltop stage, when a friend told me I should check out Fake Blood at the Red Bull stage, by the way, this stage was the weird one, there was always something weird happening there, can't put my finger on it, but you really had to enjoy the music in order to understand what was going on in this tent. Fake blood with their funky electro couldn't keep me there, instead I went back to Pete Tong and then Reboot. What can I say, Reboot had this uplifting sound, credible and positive at the same time, global techno maybe? I don't know man, but I just know I enjoyed whatever time I spent at his tent.
Paco Osuna also did an interesting job with his techno minimalistic tunes, and I also checked Chuckie, which if my memory doesn't fail was playing a more commercial electro house style of music, the crowd looked like they were having fun, so why not eh? Benny Benassi was raved by many of my friends that saw him, this was happening while I was jumping between Kaskade and Steve Bug, talk about different styles eh? Like Steve say, music is about passion, not about fashion.
Boys and girls, the quantity of good looking people at this festival was unreal, I couldn't stop looking at the guys, t-shirtless straight guys walking around that was their natural state of mind, more straight people should learn from them. Joke aside, it was really cool to have found an easy going crowd, one that you could easily approach and start a great conversation, everyone was there for the same reason, to enjoy the music and have a good time. Didn't see any major problem, beside the funny toasted guy been moved by the paramedics while his friends were taking pictures of him, don't think he is going to be very happy to find himself in facebook the day after.
There were many talented people spinning on Saturday, and I like to enjoy the sets as much as I can, but when Richie Hawtin took over the Sunday School Grove tent, this is when I knew my moment had arrived. Don't take me wrong, I had a great time jumping around all day long, but Richie made me move from inside out. I get chills just thinking about it. Last time I saw him was at the Piknic Electronik in 2009, and he did not disappoint, did not expect anything less this time around. How can I describe his music? Just too delicious to label it with just one name, think electro, think techno, think minimal, think Detroit, and then put them all together and you have something just amazing to dance. The vibe was just intoxicating to the point I didn't care anymore about the dust I was breathing, and man there was dust everywhere. Richie was my highlight in day 1, and I will never forgive myself that I left the tent 15 minutes before the official end of his set, I had to find my friends and it was almost over. Moved over to the main stage were the Chemical Brothers were doing their magic, unfortunately they were not David Copperfield for me, but I enjoyed seeing people enjoying their set.
The surprise and horror came when the music ended at the main stage and I could hear that Richie Hawtin was still spinning in my now beloved Sunday School Grove tent, he played until almost 11:00pm and I had just missed it!!! No big deal, I had a great time with my friends, and that boys and girls was the end of day 1.
Looked outside and it was sunny, but not as warm as the previous day, and I also remember what my legs looked like when I left Randal's Island the night before and right there I decided jeans was the attire of the day. One more addition was the bandana most of us brought, and what a life saver that was, my lungs are still thanking me today - you see, people learn fast and adapt to all situation.
Not wanting to face the long lines from the previous day, we decided to arrive earlier, we tried super early but the best we could do was 2:00pm, which was okay, given that most of the suck party ravers already had their bracelet and it seemed there were less people in general on Sunday, I actually would love to know the statistics for both days. It took us only 5 minutes to get in.
Funkagenda was on, but honestly I cannot remember if I went to check them out, so do not ask me if they were good or not, I just go with the word of my friend that told me they were super good, instead I stayed behind checking Dusty Kid, how old is this Italian kid anyway? I have read some of his interviews and he claims to be an Italian girl, and if he wasn't producing the delicious tunes, he would like to be a rich wife, so power to the girl, because he showed me music has not boundaries and he was able to captivate me for a long time. Only if those live sets from the Sunday School Grove tent were to surface. You can find almost every other single stage live sets already but the ones from my favourite tent. I was told there were some technical problems in recording the sets, but in my opinion, being Sunday School Grove the best tent of the festival, I wouldn't be surprise if the deejays requested no recording during their sets, I just hope I'm wrong.
The Red Bull stage was off my limits, there was nothing that attracted me to this tent, but to fair for the deejays spinning there, the place was always busy and people really seen to enjoy whatever was going on there, the funny part was that everyone seemed to be dancing in the same way, like a wave approaching land, kind of cool.
If you are not doing the Stereo diet during those 2 days, be prepared to dish out some major cash for drinks and food. The cost of the a beer was USD 8.00 and a vegetarian curry chicken with salad (small plate) was USD 10.00 - I actually ate the veggy food because at the time was the one with the smallest line, and I ended up talking to these interesting people.
Martin Buttrich, Matthias Tanzmann & Davide Squilace had already taken over my third home, but I couldn't feel their music (I'm probably going to be sacrificed by this statement), instead I ended up joining my friends at the Hilltop where Avicii, another young kid and this one from Sweden, was ripping the floor, with his somehow commercial but totally reworked tranceish pop house music. Love his energy and was the hit I needed to keep me going. Love the productions he delivered, love the choice of vocals, but more importantly, enjoyed how such a young kid can perform with such a professionalism, this guy is going far and I'm glad I was able to catch up with his music.
After that I was moving around checking Above & Beyond (good set in my opinion), Popof, Moby (all my friends were raving about this guy), and Sander van Doorn, I only stopped when Marco Carola took over the decks at the Sunday School stage.
Marco Carola for President, it was an refreshing and inspiring set, kept me going with such a positive energy, and I did not wanted to stop, people were going crazy with his music, and I must add, this was my first time seeing this guy, and now I want more. It was techno, hard but not dark, easy but not commercial, busy but not easy, just enjoyable to your ears and capable of uplifting your mood, even with so much dust flying around. Marco was for sure one of my highlights of the evening.
Victor had a hard act to follow, and he started with a small technical problem which was quickly resolved, and Victor been Victor worked the crowd. Clearly in a happy mood, he started a bit mellow but rapidly evolving into the main musical meal. The set was tecky house music, not the best I've seen from him, nevertheless enjoyable, or was it perhaps because I was still digesting Marco Carola' set?
After two days of dancing, sun, good friends and dust, your body finally start telling you enough is enough. By the end of Victor' set, I moved out of the tent, found a tree and sat underneath looking toward the tent, the main stage and the sky. Magical moments flashed thru my mind while I witness the euphoria of the people dancing and having a good time. One of my friends came to join me, and we stayed there for a bit, until we decided to check out Armin van Buuren in the main stage.
In case you don't know, I'm totally a house head, but I'm very open to other style of music, not a super fan trance, but I'm able to join the fun with the rest of the people. Due to the fact we were so tired, we just sat in the sidelines and observed Mr. Jesus Christ in action. There were tons of people jumping, enjoying and screaming for this guy, music somehow epic as expected from a trance deejay, but not sure, maybe too many vocals? We stayed for a bit until we moved hack to the smallest but the best tent of this festival, John Digweed was in action already.
Definitely great choice of deejay to end a super weekend of music, the combination of Digweed techno, combined with the progressive prody house was just delicious, unfortunately by them my energy was almost gone, and I just wanted to go back home, take a shower and go to sleep. Stayed until the end, enjoyed what I heard, by I apologize to Digweed because he deserved better from me, full attention was required and a rested body was needed.
The Electric Zoo Festival was perfect for everyone, and even if you complained about it, I know there was something there for you. Actually that was the beauty of this festival, there was something for everyone, if you didn't like the music been played in one tent, you just had to move on to the next one. Trance, techno, house, commercial, progressive, you name it, got to hear it all. I even saw people line up to pee illegally guys, so civilized and at the same time, well you know what I mean.
Thank you New York, until the next one.
Below you will find some of my videos, but you know how it is, no video would ever be able to make you feel as if you were there.