Electric Zoo: Day 1
Finally, y’all wanna know about the epic shit? (To see more pics, go here)
It was two days of musical genius at Randall’s Island Park, nestled inbetween east Harlem and west Queens. More than 50,000 people hopped the bus over to party their asses off. Nobody seemed to give a fuck that Hurricane Earl was supposed to come through. I wasn’t too worried. Being from south Florida, I knew a damn category 1 was nothing to write home about.
We got to Day 1 when Fake Blood was taking the stage (well, it was a long ride from where we were staying in lower Brooklyn). I was super stoked to see him. When I pulled up beside the stage, I noticed how he already seemed to have complete control of the crowd. I mean, Fake Blood was to the crowd what Mickey was to brooms in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice; as he slowed the speed of the music, arms were wailing in perfect synchronization, as if to say “We’re with you. Please, more.” He was constantly fucking with the tracks, which I would expect from one of the greatest sound-manipulators ever. The set he was laying down was real Dutchy, something I’m always happy about, and with each song, the people swarming before him went more and more ape-shit.
We ran over to the main stage where ATB was just finishing up. The crowd there was right massive and full of couples dancing. Ravers galore. The front rows were full of die-hards, one fan painted the DJ’s name on his forehead (and almost had a heart-attack when he got a kiss on the cheek later). He was a cool dude and came down after his set to shake hands and sign skulls.
After ATB came Dirty South, someone I hadn’t heard much from before but certainly will pay more attention to now. They opened their set with an acapella version of Temper Trap’s “Sweet Disposition” then started laying some nasty bass on it, and I mean fuckin’ nasty right at the get-go. He kept building on these straight raunchy noises then dropped the beat real heavy and the masses were lovin’ it. Later in his set, he played a great mash-up of the Killer’s “Mr. Brightside” and the drums from Blur’s “Song 2,” a huge crowd pleaser.
“Is anyone ready for some dubstep?” Rusko asked the crowd as he took the stage. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH was all they could say back. He was jumping around on stage like a jack-in-the-box behind the decks. He was going fucking ballistic, murdering our fucking ear drums. Totally destroying any previous concepts I had about what “dirty” sounded like. He laid down some new banging shit for us, and his sweet remix of “California Love,” because living in L.A., he’s certainly got enough of that. Something I didn’t know about Rusko, he’s pretty much his own MC. He kept grabbing the mic and asking the crowd, “hey all you dubsteppers,” did they want any more? I dunno Rusko, they might die if they rage any harder, don’t hurt em!
Motherfuckin’ Major Lazer hit the main stage with a fury. Everyone’s favorite daggerers were there, including Mr. Blonde Mohawk, and they ran around the stage dancing their asses off, working the crowd from beginning to end. Diplo was up there solo but no one seemed to mind. He dropped a remix of my favorite song on the radio, “Hold Yuh” by Jamaican-born Gyptian, as well as some reggae classics re-imagined into dancefloor bangers. He also dropped a bit of “Sweet Shop,” keeping his set at a nice mix between groovy and disgusting. At one point during Lazer’s performance, this one guy just got totally naked and security shut him down pretty hard. They dragged him out of the crowd and took him to the floor like “Fuck you naked dude!” A few minutes later, as he was being walked away passed me, I noticed he seemed pretty pleased with himself.
Ran over to catch Flying Lotus‘ set, he’s been one of my favorite DJs for a long time. I was sad because his crowd wasn’t as large as those who came before him, but it was really everyone else’s loss because this dude spins mad fire. He was all smiles as he bounced his way around the decks. He was playing his usual hip-hop-lounge tracks but kept it lively with driving beats on top. He was fun to watch, jerkin’ and gangsta leanin’ on top of his spacey jams. He dropped some Weezer and some Game on the bitches. All together, it was like the Adult Swim soundtrack meets Break Your Fuckin’ Neck.
We managed to catch Benny Benassi over at the main stage, well, I mostly listened from the next-door press tent as my phone charged, taking advantage of the free water. I heard him drop Satisfaction kind of early in his set, and I danced along. He seemed to like cutting the music out and listening to the crowd scream, but he didn’t do it in that annoying way, I mean, it made sense at the time for sure. At this point in the night, I think the bass was seeping into my brainwaves and making me dizzy, but I wasn’ done yet! Benassi played to the audience with tracks about NYC and a little Purple Haze. Both Gaard and I mentioned to each other how pleased with his set we were, good to know he’s still got it.
As the crowd waited for Pretty Lights to hit the stage, they started chanting “Ole, Ole Ole Ole.” The sun was down now and the place was bringing their own heat. The live drummer was set up on stage and as soon as the music started, the damn lights started going. They lived up to their namesake, the lights were fucking pretty. And intense. So intense that they actually sent a girl into seizure. They had to pull her out of the crowd and escort her to the med tent by stretcher. But the show never stopped and the good times kept rolling. The live drumming really made a difference, the place felt like a rock show, headbanging and all. The set was both funky and grimy, and every color in the technicolor rainbow was emitting from the stage. Pretty Lights are some straight masters, they brought the energy level up and down with hints of jazz and soulful melodies backed with heavy bass and the driving rhythms of a human drummer. Yessir.
Closing out the night on the main stage were The Chemical Brothers with the most sophisticated stage set-up of all. For me, it totally lived up to the youtube hype. Every visual was cooler than the last and the music was banging throughout. I’m a huge Chem Bros. fan, and I’d say it was a truly brilliant and beautiful set. At times, I found myself unable to do anything but just smile and laugh. These guys aren’t concerned with dropped the heaviest wobble or the latest remix, they’re about just pure fucking feel-good, make-your-body-move dance music. I kept taking pictures with my phone and sending them to friends back home, nani-nani-boo-boo bitches.
With only about ten minutes left in their set, and the entire crowd hanging on their every beat, the sound suddenly cut-off and died completely. You could hear the crying coming from everywhere. People hustled on stage, trying to figure out what went wrong and how quickly it could be fixed. Some spectators started leaving, thinking this was it, an unfortunate end to an awesome day, but they quickly ran back when, about five minutes later, everything started back up.
“Back with another one of those block-rockin’ beats.” BANAM BANAM BANAM BANAM BANANANA. It just made sense. And with one final blast of color and sound, the set ended, again. The screen stayed lit, leaving one simple message. “Love Is All,” it said behind them as they the duo took their bows, and love is all we felt as we, all some 50,000 of us, made our way to the gates to catch the bus. Fucking Love.