Electric Zoo returned to Randall’s Island Park this Labor Day weekend, but not without some conflict. The first day of the festival was canceled on Friday, hours before gates opened, due to incomplete construction of the main stage. Agitated crowds breached the gates Sunday after being informed the venue reached its capacity. Despite stage design errors and start time delays, the artists who were able to perform during the remaining two days electrified audiences with bass-heavy hits and hypnotic visuals.
Best Guitar Solo: Gryffin
Ravers blared at the top of their lungs to Gryffin’s melodic house tunes as he performed on the Convergence stage Saturday. During the latter end of his 75-minute set, the San Francisco native crawled onto the DJ booth, electric guitar in hand, and begun jamming out to “Feel Good,” as fire shot out of the stage. Gryffin, who became a classically-trained pianist at a young age, head banged his shoulder-length hair as crowds pumped their arms in unison.
Most Suprising Announcement: Alison Wonderland
The Australian producer Alison Wonderland held nothing back, including announcing her return to the festival circuit after having a baby, during her performance Saturday. Amid bass-heavy tunes and death-defying drops, she shared that her two and a half month old was becoming a young raver himself and said he listens to techno as a lullaby to help him sleep.
Best Energy: Zedd
If there was a raver starter pack, it would come equipped with a half-dozen Zedd songs. The Grammy-winning producer-DJ closed out Saturday with a 75-minute set overflowing with his chart-topping singles like “Break Free,” featuring Ariana Grande, and “We’re Beautiful Now.” The show reached a climax when attendees raised their phone lights to the classic tune “Clarity” and fireworks rocketed through the sky.
Best Crowd for an Early Set: Layton Giordani
Those lucky enough to get through the Ezoo entrance before 6 p.m. got a taste of techno newcomer Layton Giordani. Audiences were unfazed by the baking temperatures as Layton blared techno hits through the crowd, with some attendees performing with hula hoops and yo-yos.
Best Stage Design: Nora en Pure
While Nora en Pure’s melodic beats rippled through the crowd, the Morphosis stage design pulled attendees into a underwater escape. Reflective of Minecraft building blocks, schools of fish, sharks, and praying mantises snaked from screen to screen in a sea of blue. The design was refreshing, in contrast to the blinding colors associated with neighboring stages, and meshed well with the Swedish DJ’s hypnotic sound and emotionally-driven music.
Best Sunset Set: Tiesto
As the Sunday sun created an orange hue across the sky, the globetrotting DJ overwhelmed the park with trance and bass house. With decades of experience, the Dutch DJ’s performance was unrivaled at the Convergence stage as a colorful light show and blasts of smoke mesmerized the crowd.
Best Visuals: Zeds Dead b2b Griz
Zeds Dead and Griz closed out the Continuum stage Sunday night, complete with psychedelic clips and a hypnotic laser show. Along with dub mixes, the duo sneaked in classics like “The One and Only” by Snoop Dogg and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye, forcing the crowd into karaoke. The half-DJ/half saxophonist Griz also took to the stage to play his woodwind instrument, providing a jazz break from the pounding bass.