We could hear the teasing thud of distant dubstep from the moment we skipped onto festival territory. After several stressful lines, we were finally bearing witness to summer’s end in all of its glory. Hordes of people shifted about, clumped and scattered across an extensive field, laid out before a sunlit New York skyline.
With this year’s season of outdoor music festivals drawing to a close, these addicted ravers felt the moral obligation to migrate east for their final electro fix of 2010 as New York City’s Randall Island Park played host to the much-anticipated annual Electric Zoo music festival over the course of last Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The crowd was superb. A quirky conglomeration of festivalgoers that left one pondering the question: Do any of these people have day jobs? The general dress code was standard dance-tent clubber with a few eccentrics thrown in the mix. Accessories ranged from mirrored motorcycle helmets to full-face aviator goggles. Everything from blow-up rhinos to Blue Men Group impersonators surfed the energetic crowd. Music aside, we concluded, Electric Zoo truly is people-watching at its best.
With over 30 acts set to play, our first stop was Fake Blood. Burrowing our way through the wild crowd, we reached the front just in time for “I Like it” which was, without a doubt, the highlight of the set.
Having successfully supplied the crowd with the stamina needed for the next act, Fake Blood turned the tables over to dubstep prodigy Rusko. In the following hour, the DJ dropped some of the heaviest bass lines of the entire festival on his adoring crowd.
Major Lazer took the sunset slot on the main stage. The usual subspecies of the dance music diaspora assembled before the main stage. The duo played a few crowd-pleasers while throwing in the occasional surprise to spice things up, and boy did it work: not a head bobber in sight. Solely wacky moves; the kind that you would be hard pressed to find in any other terrestrial setting.
We then dashed across the sparse acres of New York greenery to return to the Red Bull stage where Flying Lotus had already begun his diverse set of electro hip-hop. Although the tent was undercapacity, it didn’t seem to be a problem. He was just as animated as every face forming the active crowd before him.
Pretty Lights proved to be a slight visual distraction from Flying Lotus. Their relatively chilled beats sound tracked a mesmerizing state-of-the-art light show whose finale cued the Chemical Brothers.
All other stages were silenced while roughly 25,000 music fans flocked to the main stage. The brothers blew us away with their shuddering sub-bass and crazy remixes. By that point the music had become incoherent. All had gladly surrendered their bodies to the vibrations while the visuals illuminated their already-radiant faces. We ducked out a couple of minutes early to avoid the inevitable chaos and boarded a waiting bus, which took us to the nearest station.
The usual tumult of the Harlem subway station blurred and dulled as we sat in what felt like a perfect state of contentment, reluctantly retreating uptown after an outstanding day of open-air dub. For those who didn’t go this year, make sure to mark it on your calendar for the first week of September next year.