For the 11th time in history, the Electric Zoo music festival took over Randall’s Island this past Labor Day Weekend. As one of several music festivals that resides on the little island right nestled between Manhattan, Queens, and The Bronx, Electric Zoo focuses mainly on, you guessed it, electronic music, covering all the subgenres and intricacies that span the style. House, techno, trap, bass, and so many others; there’s more to electronic music than the titular E.D.M. This past weekend was my fifth time attending the festival, and while there were somethings that bugged me, over all, I enjoyed the festival, and would recommend it to anyone into electronic music looking for something fairly lowkey and close to home.
Electric Zoo, or EZoo as some call it, means something different to everyone every year, but this year it wound up on a pedestal for me. To keep it short, post-college life is hard, and so is trying to budget for a festival ticket when so many other things are demanding your attention (and money). EZoo signifies the “end of summer” for most people. It falls on the weekend of Labor Day every year, and gives folks the chance to have one last big summer bash before breaking out the flannels and going crazy over pumpkin and apple flavored things.
EZoo’s lineup was particularly enticing to me. I am always willing to see the big names like Eric Prydz, Oliver Heldens, Diplo, and Kaskade, but I’m also slowly getting into the harder, “wubb”-ier, moshpit-inducing style of music. As such, I was excited to see 1788-L, NGHTMRE, Slander, Subtronics, and of course, Dog Blood. There are people that like to nitpick the lineup every year but I personally don’t see the point of that. So with a hydration bag on my back and my ticket on my wrist, I set off at noon on Friday to enjoy the last piece of summer I could.
The first day of a music festival is always a bit rough. You have to acclimate to the environment, coming from working or being in school for the past few days. I had to remember the “rules of festival life” as I have come to call them (Stay tuned for my article on those “rules” here.) But once I jogged my memory, I had a blast. I enjoyed the music across all three days and have plenty of news artists to listen to. The stage designs were interesting and colorful, and I got to try some wonderfully (overpriced) festival food. The art installations were amazing as well and I even got to watch a local artist, Dirt Cobain, throw up some of their iconic pill bottle designs, which was a great experience. The fashion also never disappoints and neither did the signs and totems. A personal favorite was “Tomorrow isn’t promised; be a hoe today.” Amen.
However, there were things that annoyed me that I had hoped would have been fixed since last year. Again this year, there were only 2 water stations of about 10–15 spouts each for people to fill up the water bottles and hydration bags that are absolutely essential at a festival like EZOO. Having so few water stations means in super long wait times, and it can be dangerous when people decide to forego water because of how long it takes. A friend of mine remarked that it was likely a ploy to get people to purchase the $5 water, and unfortunately, it’s likely they were correct. Also, all the stages other than the main stage suffered varying degrees of sound bleed, meaning that you could be at one stage and hear the music and bass from the others. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to be done about this unless the organizers want to get Escherian with their layout; the space allotted for the festival grounds might be getting too small for the crowd EZoo attracts.
Despite these grievances, I will most likely be going again next year; and I have a good reason as to why I’m “likely” going, and not “definitely” going. EZoo was a great electronic music festival for me back in 2014, when I was first timer. It was close to home, fairly affordable, didn’t go on too late, and I could get there and back with public transportation. But since then, I have been to other festivals and I can feel myself getting increasingly curious about some of the bigger productions; Lost Lands, Electric Forest, Ultra Miami, and even the meccas of electronic music, Tomorrowland and EDC Las Vegas. It’s not that I have outgrown EZoo, or that things are forcing me to leave it behind, but that I have enjoyed it so much, that I feel a strong pull to see what the next level looks like. At the risk of sounding cliche, EZoo will always be my first and it will always have my heart. Again, I recommend it to anyone looking to go to their first electronic music festival. You won’t regret it, and I might even see you there.