Electric Zoo 2015: Fans agree, the transformation was successful
Amidst the skyscrapers and concrete streets of the jungle known as NewYork City, is an inconspicuous island, which on every Labor Day weekend attracts its own breed of jungle animals. Randall’s island is made home to music-lovers, partygoers and some of the best DJs in the world, as it hosts the world famous music festival, Electric Zoo.
A festival that has been going since 2009, and gaining more publicity each year has been pitted with tumultuous odds in recent memory. With the tragic over-dose deaths in 2013 and inclement weather conditions in 2014, the festival has had to cancel its last day two years in a row. How could they come back from that?
Some may say that in previous years Electric Zoo was characterized by the latter definition. With Made Events having to cut the festival short, its wild party animals and the festival as a whole definitely needed some TLC; a transformation was in much need.
But the question stands: Would the Transformation be Successful?
Revamped and recharged, Electric Zoo worked with it’s sister company at SFX, ID&T, the same creative minds behind TommorowWorld, Mysteryland USA and other delightfully gaudy festivals, to deliver top-notch aesthetics, safety and crowd management. In addition to bringing more creativity to the table, Electric Zoo brought in vendors and partners to make the experience not only better than the past two years, but also different.
“Well what do you think? Did you go last year? How do you think E-Zoo has transformed? If you did, or didn’t go last year, what do you think of this year?”
These are the questions I asked as I walked around the crowd. I wanted to get honest opinions from newbies and veterans alike. Here’s what the crowd had to say:
“The stages are a lot different” and with further elaboration “…they are more spread out this year. Everyone is not packed so close together.” Said some grass loving animals. By having the stages placed along the outside of the festival grounds, dancers were pulled closer to the outside while traffic was free to flow through the middle and allow people to rest on the grassy medians in between. “Transformed” was not only a marketing tool to promise change and draw back in the cautious crowd, but a promise, needing to be delivered and held up by the festival.
Everyone I talked to seemed fairly comfortable in the hot summer sun.
Dehydration being a major issue in the past, E-Zoo made plentiful FREE and NOTICABLE water refill stations, something that sadly, many festivals still fall short on. They partnered with Vitamin water, Core Water and Celebrate Safe, a company whose mission is to help people party safely. Celebrate Safe’s tents had large, red crosses and were handing out free water, tasty electrolyte packs, ear plugs and had safety information. The medical tents were easy to spot, well lit and near each major stage with onsite medical care at the ready.
E-Zoo had innovative ways to escape the heat. Dance areas had water misters occasionally spraying breezy waves of mist and the natural shade of the trees were turned into welcoming, groovy groves, stylized with disco balls and green eyeball lanterns hung in the branches.
The island-turned-zoo festival was “colorful and its design [was] artfully fun” noted one leopard print, first-time festivalgoer. The zoo had life-size, interactive art installations like a glitzy zebra print rhino, pink fluff-ball fleshed hippo, flower covered elephant and a bossy looking, straw studded gorilla.
I found it interesting that only about one in every five people I asked were a return guest of Electric Zoo. Most people in attendance were there for the first time.
Did a whole new crowd replace the less-than-pleased fans from last year? Or had the changed line-up targeted a different market?
“The crowd is a lot older this year. It cuts out a lot of the riff raff” one twenty-three year old girl said with a laugh ”… it lets everyone have more fun when the crowd is more mature.” When I inquired why the crowd might be older she relied
“The line-up! It’s a lot less mainstream than the last years and it also has more variety, less dubstepy. More techno and house too.”
The previous years have seen huge names like Skrillex and Diplo but this year’s line up focused on less mainstream DJs. By providing a wider variety of artists and genres it welcomed a wider variety of people.
This year hosted artists, Oliver Heldens, Ferry Corsten and Ummet Ozcan, who brought the beat and attitude Electric Zoo needed; enhancing the transformed musical experience. Amid the international beats were also many sub-genres of the EDM music scene, such as Gramatik’s unique brand of glitch-hop, Alison Wonderland’s electropop, Justin Jay’s bass-house and Thomas Jack’s tropical house.
The selection of homegrown artists also featured Mija, Destructo and Cashmere Cat at the Riverside stage; an octopus themed stage, standing four stories tall with curling giant black and white tentacles surrounding the DJ deck. Across the festival at the Sunday School stage and the Hilltop Arena, both tent covered and streaking with jungle-leaf green lasers, other genre specific artists such as Galantis, Pete Tong, Glitch Mob and Griz threw down some gnarly beats to the raging crowds.
Although the tents limited the crowd size, it made for a cozy feel with the artists preforming and the friends dancing nearby.
“Even though the stages seem smaller this year, they look pretty cool. I was at the big winged one all day.” The “winged one” referring to the main stage, was an expansive, confetti spraying, smoke streaming, electrified bird, encircling the crowd in a giant sprawl of spread wings. On the last night, Alesso ascended the mainstage and delivered his
happy house style of progressive to a sea of animal print, feather flying, neon-painted party animals getting down on the dance floor. Each unique stage offered an excellent sanctuary for the music hungry creatures to get their fill.
So the question to be answered: Was the transformation successful? In my opinion, and from the opinions I gathered from asking people in attendance, yes. By selecting from a wider range of artists and genres, the transformation was really seen in the audience and their love for that music. A different Electric Zoo from years past, yes, but every festival doesn’t have to be headliner after headliner, and big bang after big bang. Sometimes a great festival is one that creates an environment to explore, learn, meet and love new people, and Electric Zoo: Transformed, did just that.
With the transformation a success, Electric Zoo looks to grow a new breed of animals for years to come, and leaves us looking forward to the next time the zookeepers open their gates.
Words by Lindsey Bein