Review: Electric Zoo 2013

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We’re all f****ing animals!” has a whole new meaning after this past weekend at Electric Zoo 2013. The dance music festival we were all anxiously counting down the days for has come and gone, leaving us mostly satisfied with two out of three days of enjoyment. Made Event, as always, put on an incredible production from start to finish, with so many improvements to one of the absolute best festivals in the US. Electric Zoo 2013 may have abruptly ended on a couple of bad notes, but I want to highlight the positive experiences I shared with the many friends and fellow responsible animals who were all about getting high on the music alone. Here’s a brief recap of my 48-hours of #Ezoo5…

FRIDAY:
Spirits were high on the first day of the festival, as usual. I quickly noticed how many more people seemed to be there this year, which made navigating through the crowds with a heavy camera bag a major struggle. There were plenty of inventive outfits, costumes, and happy people to create the elated festival vibe which can only be captured at E-zoo. I quickly spotted the infamous Techno Penguins, plenty of flags from all around the globe, and of course those who insisted on drawing negative attention to themselves by wearing drug-related clothing.

Delegated for the third year in a row with the task of covering the entire festival with photos, live tweets, and a post-zoo review, I was excited as always to hit the ground running. I was especially pumped to see two of my Refune boys, Deniz Koyu and Otto Knows, but due to the most absurd amount of traffic I didn’t walk through the gates until after 5pm, allowing me to catch a little bit of Cassy at Sunday School after meeting up with my partner, David Guzman, to devise our attack plan and get to work. I then met up with my handsome and quirky friend Rob who volunteered to be my photography assistant and accompany me as we bounced around the stages all day. (Thanks, Rob!)

Before going to see Alesso, I took some photos in the Hilltop Arena and Riverside tents. I have to say, the rotating center stage at Hilltop was awesome! I also loved the massive 3D screens at Riverside, adding to the improved lighting effects and black ceilings inside the tents.

I can’t say enough great things about Sebastian Ingrosso, but his young protégé, Alesso, is following in his footsteps and destroying every venue he hits with massive bangers and mashups. If you missed the set everyone was buzzing about on Friday, here it is:

After Alesso, I caught as much Knife Party as I could tolerate (about 10 minutes) and then went back to get schooled by Danny Tenaglia for the rest of the night. There’s just something special about the techno tent, and the vibe in there rocks. I always walk into that tent feeling like I should make the sign of the cross before I enter, as if it’s a holy place, because I love it that much.

Completely satisfied with my dose of techno, I left a few minutes early to head over to Pacha NYC for the Toolroom afterparty with Gina Turner, Stefano Noferini, MK, and Mark Knight, and didn’t leave until nearly 6am. I have always avoided afterparties because I’m always too exhausted, but with Gina, Stefano, and Mark on the lineup, I couldn’t resist a night of dirty tech beats. Plus, I hadn’t seen MK before and he impressed the hell out of me. Needless to say, the afterparty was the highlight of my day!

SATURDAY:
I followed in my own Friday footsteps and arrived fashionably late on the second day at around 3pm. I ate at the Hibachi Heaven truck outside the Main Stage East stage, which was absolutely bangin! After stuffing my face full of the most delicious steak and rice dish for only $10, I caught half of Fehrplay‘s set, and half of Azari & III, who I had never seen or heard of before and really enjoyed. Since the Grove had the groove, I took up residency there for Claude VonStroke, Justin Martin vs Eats Everything, and John Digweed over the next several hours. While there I ran into my friends Matty, Mike, and Justine who were all along for the ride on the techno bus.

I also stopped by Hardwell‘s powerhouse set for a short while, but long enough to hear him drop “Reload” (Clockwork Remix) and the crowd went nuts as soon as the melody started. I took a well needed break in the media tent and heard parts of both David Guetta and Tiesto‘s sets before heading home early to prepare for the best day of the festival.

Guetta included a track I surprisingly love, considering how my taste has shifted from that electro house sound, “Booyah” by Showtek, and of course everyone sang along to “Titanium”. One of the highlights of Tiesto’s closing set was hearing the Zaken Remix of “Escape Me”. It was really great to hear that since Niel is a NYC local and friend of EDMNYC’s. Congrats, Zaken, and happy birthday to you!

Fehrplay earned the “set of the day” award, in my opinion, so here it is:

SUNDAY:
Waking up to countless texts and emails about the cancellation of the one day I had been looking forward to more than anyone I know was overwhelmingly sad. When I read that two people had died, and there were nearly 19 other reported instances of overdoses and worse, I actually cried. I laid in bed for two hours reading tweets and comments all over Facebook with hateful words from other disappointed fans who had come from other countries, as well as our own NYC fans who were just pissed that two people ruined their good time. Needless to say, there wasn’t much “PLUR” going on that morning.

I stand behind Made Event in their decision to shut down the 3rd day, however, I was furious that drugs had ultimately caused the demise of the day of Drumcode and Sebastian Ingrosso I could hardly wait for. Now, as a result, these instances have made national news, and our beloved EDM culture is even further scrutinized because everyone thinks we are all looking for Molly. The dance music scene needs to wake up and realize that this music is not synonymous with doing drugs so that these events won’t get shut down, clubs won’t be closed, and we’ll all leave at the end of the night together.

“This scene is amazing because of the music and the people – not drugs. Dance music is about celebrating life.” -Tiësto

Nicole “Swedeheart” for EDMNYC

PHOTOS: Day 1 Album on Facebook… CLICK HERE.

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