As the summer winds down and temperatures change from scorching to breezy, New Yorker’s start to reflect on months passed remembering the highs and lows of the summer season. One thing that sits bright in our temporal lobes is the ultimate summer send off that commenced at Electric Zoo Festival over Labor Day Weekend. Ever since Electric Zoo announced plans of transforming Randall’s Island Park into The 6th Boro, an urban adventureland inspired by the bright lights and grand spectacle of New York City, party animals all over the world eagerly anticipated how the theme would be brought to life, and the animals were not disappointed this year…
We got a late start on Friday, September 1st as we planned on conserving energy for THREE HOURS of Sasha & Digweed, but we left room for some afternoon delight. It was evident that ownership of Electric Zoo now lye in the hands of Gary Richards aka Destructo, who announced his departure from the HARD brand about a month ago. Richards sold the brand that he helped build and announced his move to Electric Zoo and ‘LiveStyle’ via Twitter last week. The change was felt in the selection of artists on this year’s bill; though Saturday and Sunday showed greater variety, Friday proved more mainstream with popular names like DJ Snake, Galantis, and Aly & Fila, which our younger selves would have bopped around aimlessly to. Not to say that we did not enjoy proper trance sets from fan favorites Seven Lions and marLo , who we thank for paying homage to the late, great Robert Miles by dropping ‘Children’ mid-set which had the main stage going wild! The main stage design of ‘The Elephants Roar’ made up for the mundane energy of Friday’s crowd. All five unique stage designs for The 6th Boro blew our audio/visual senses away. The Elephants Roar was a powerful choice for the main stage with lasers reaching miles across the park in sync with bass drops. The zoo outdid themselves with the Hilltop Arena, which was transformed into an underground subway station with 3D mapping trains racing ‘behind’ the DJ setup. The 6 Pointz Stage nestled in the far corner of Randall’s Island Park was designed “to a T” with the feel of old-school New York. Fully furnished with delectable food options and live graffiti acts to enjoy with some of New York’s top talent pouring through the speakers.
We walked the perimeter to get a feel for all the audaciousness that there was to witness. Festival goer’s in Deadmau5 heads, whale-ensembles, the go-to tutu’s, sparkles galore, and let’s not forget the gentleman in the hot pink slingshot piece that we will never be able to un-see. The afternoon crowd seemed more into their candy-flipping journeys rather than the music acts themselves, but nonetheless we stuffed our faces with Big Mozz Sticks (the BEST mozzarella stick you will ever eat) and pranced to trance classics from the legend, Markus Schulz as the sun settled. We were pleased with the overall setup as the zoo felt more spacious and clean in comparison to previous years, and the crisp clean sound did not go unnoticed at all of 5 stages. Hats off to Electric Zoo for adopting the cashless bracelet options which made the food/beverage lines run fast and flawlessly, making more time for music!
As dusk settled, the Awakenings Stage was where you found us parked. With its industrial, warehouse-like decor, Awakenings played home to some of the more preferred acts that The 6th Boro had to offer. Berlin legend Paul Kalkbrenner brought us ‘Back to the Future’ with an ethereal techno set that had us feeling all sorts of ’90s warehouse ways’. The crowd praised Kalkbrenner’s christened expertise and precision in laying down some new age techniques alongside classic Kalkbrenner sounds, leaving us in awe. Fan favorite, lost our sh!t moment was when we heard Kalkbrenner’s edit of Moby – Wait for Me, later followed by ‘Dockyard.‘ The Friday night crowd grew in density around 8pm as hundreds poured in to capture three straight hours of legendary duo, Sasha & Digweed. The duo who paved the way for dance music in the 90’s and 2000’s took us on a journey through the ages with a touch on their early progressive roots. An hour in, we were mesmerized by Adana Twins – Uncompromising being slayed across that crisp Awakenings sound-system along with some S&D classics. Other highlights included: the light show, of course, plus some young bucks claiming “nostalgic S&D moments.” We loved catching Sasha’s new tune ‘Trigonometry’ along with some sampled gems off the recent S&D Renaissance Collection. Having Sasha & Digweed close day one with a proper three hour set was the mother of all bookings for Electric Zoo.
Hats off to day one!