Electric Zoo Festival NYC 2010: Intro into RUSKO’s set

Electric Zoo Festival was certainly beyond my expectations. I have to admit, given its situatedness in New York, I was somewhat expecting EZF to be rather similar to what I envisioned Woodstock might have been like: Chaos, nudists, hysteria, mud, and general barbaric mayhem. But rather, and thankfully, the whole experience was quite opposite of that:

The set-up for Electric Zoo was just, splendid, absolutely splendid! Perfect for ambitious types like me who like to "get around" when it comes to stage-hopping at festivals. At first, I was upset with whomever put together the insensitive set-time schedule, making it seemingly impossible to attend any one set for even more than 30 minutes, without feeling guilty that you were missing another one of your favs. (Prime example: Wolfgang Gartner and A-Trak‘s sets started and ended at the EXACT same times!!!!! 🙁

However, given the close proximity of each stage and tent, and the easiability of slipping through the sides of the tents, similar to what was set-up at Coachella but actually even more open and accessible for weaseling in from the perimeter, it made the coinciding set times a little less infuriating…

The Electric Zoo attendees themselves, were highly-matured and appropriately-dressed — ha, well, for the most part…

Whereas furry boots and underwear were the Electric Daisy Carnival standard, the Electric Zoo Festival norm, was, well, relatively normal. And when those few exceptions came strutting through, it was still an environment where I didn’t feel too out of place, dressed simply as a regular human being… This was personally reassuring: proving that one could still be fanatical about electronic music without having to give into the "candy-eyed" skimpy neon get-ups, if that simply wasn’t his or her jive.

It’s apparent that NYC’s crowds aren’t your typical hula-hopping or aggressive front-row bro-raver types. The only unfortunate consequence of this is the fact that you’ll see and HEAR everyone throughout the crowd conversing in all of the live videos we found: shaking hands, intermingling, and forming dancing circles. There isn’t so much concentration of trying to get the best view of the DJ or waving light-up fingertip gloves around, as there was on just having a good time, making friends — all while listening to great dance music. While there was still a lot of enthusiasm and energy for the DJs and the music, there was that additional sense of control that I did not expect to see — and have rarely, if ever, experienced at a festival, of any kind.

From stage to stage, it was a very elemental experience: each artist/DJ was thoughtfully placed according to not only the expected crowd turnout, but also his sound, conveniently lining up DJs within similar sub-genres on the same stages, for the most part.

Main Stage:
At the beginning of each day, crowds already had immediately started forming with excited attendees who were anxious to claim prime real estate early on, preparing for the enormous names to hit the stage, later in the day. While most names were unsurprisingly chosen frivolously based off Beatport/iTunes selections, there were however some extremely standout performances from these mainstream-ish chart toppers that validated their rightful proprietary on the Main Stage. One especially memorable set came from ATB, where he actually SANG the lyrics to Rage Against the Machine’s blood-boiling track "Killing in the Name of", resulting in instant crowd approval in the form of total-crowd synchronized headbanging and even the formation of what appeared to be your classic bro-circle — a sincere rarity at any EDM gathering!

Three massive screens burst with eye-catching graphics and lights throughout the day, with displays by Major Lazer, Boys Noize, and the series of Power Ranger-inspired robo-creatures including dinosaurs and elephants that galloped across the screens during The Chemical Brothers’ sets were among the most memorable.

Standout sets on the Main Stage
The Chemical Brothers
Major Lazer

Boys Noize
Laidback Luke
and Armin van Buuren

Sunday School Grove:

Famed and named for its Winter Music Conference (WMC) notoriety, the Sunday School stage was definitely the perfect place to park your body during the daytime. Breezy, tropical, almost like sitting inside one of those Disney-monopolized restaurants "Rainforest Cafe" — where it like randomly rains, and there’s creepy mechanical animal puppets that make jungle noises, and a monstrosity of a dessert involving fiery sparklers at some point. Yep, it’s a pretty fancy joint…

Although there was an unfortunate absence of the chocolate cake, there was no doubt that there were certainly still sparks flying inside the Sunday School tent, which was by far the most crafty and eclectically designed tent I have ever seen. Win.

Standout sets at Sunday School 


Claude VonStroke
Reboot (live)
Richie Hawtin

John Digweed
Marco Carola

Martin Buttrich x Matthias Tanzmann x David Squillace

Hilltop Arena:
With a backdrop reminiscent to a mansion of disorienting mirrors in which an endlessly, colorful array of bright lights bounced off of in every which direction as the big names that graced the Hilltop Arena stage played to massive crowds that spilled out the sides of the tent during those particularly tumultuous sets.

Standout sets at Hilltop Arena
Pete Tong


Wolfgang Gartner
Above & Beyond

Red Bull Music Academy Riverside Stage:
This inevitably tightly-packed tent contained some of the biggest acts of the entire festival for those EDM enthusiasts who like it filthy, long, and hard…
No expenses were spared on the immense light shows and lasers that made it easy for attendees to lose themselves in the enclave of heavy-hitting EDM and let their senses take control of their inhibitions, or rather lack thereof, as they danced in coherence with the array of mesmerizing sounds and high-energy performances.

Standout sets at Red Bull Riverside Stage
Fake Blood
Erol Alkan
Pretty Lights

The Glitch Mob

Photo by Nathalie Brilliant for TheMusicNinja.com & TheMixster.com Copyright 2010

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