Electric Zoo: A How-To Guide (Day Two)

Posted by on August 24, 2012

Middy and I are back with our picks for Day 2 of the whirlwind parade of awesomeness that is Electric Zoo. There’s no clear theme to Day 2 (it’s not the “dubstep” day or the “trance” day), but there is a wide variety of excellent talent to look forward to and spectacles that are sure to astound and delight. Without further adieu, let’s Aoki-jump right in — fun, excitement, and madness await…

Main Stage

Must See: Above & Beyond- Above & Beyond is the single act we are most excited to see at Electric Zoo this year, and if it weren’t for Pretty Lights coming in and screwing things up with his awesomeness we’d also be seeing their Friday set in full. Above & Beyond’s shows have been compared to religious experiences — and for good reason. You will see people will tears in their eyes at the end of this performance. Jon, Tony and Paavo are able to connect with their audience in a way that very few can; their live typing creates a real bond with the crowd and their stirring, transcendent, otherworldly music is guaranteed to transport you to another plane of reality. One of my favorite memories from Electric Zoo 2011 was watching the sun set behind the New York skyline as the crowd sang along to “Sun and Moon,” arm in arm. That epitomized the kind of small moments in life that stay with you, and it is these small moments that Above & Beyond specialize in creating. We’ll stop now, but know that this isn’t one to miss.

Can Miss: Axwell – This was a tough decision because the mainstage lineup on Saturday is solid the entire way through. However, we’re making this call because there are exactly two directions for Axwell’s set to go in — and one is definitely worse than the other. Either way, you’ll get to see his technical prowess on display, but for whatever reason festivals tend to bring out the commercialized side of Axwell which means that there is clear potential for this to disappoint. If you look at his past setlists, you’ll see what we mean; on Saturday night you may wind up seeing a label-head who happens to be one-third of an international EDM conglomerate, who takes the stage and presses play on “Save the World” and “Greyhound,” instead of the independently talented DJ and producer who keeps the crowd on its toes and spins his own material (sidenote: it would be criminal if he did not play his remode with Henrik B of “Teenage Crime”). In other words, you could get an amazing and skilled performance, or you could find yourself on an endless downward spiral into Swedish House Hell. Ultimately, this is a medium-risk but potentially high-reward decision that could either pay a fat dividend or lead you to walk out halfway through. The choice is yours. Either way, I think your time will probably be better spent seeing Sasha in the ‘Grove.

Sleeper: DJ Eco – Former architecture student and New York native DJ Eco will bring his unique style of trance to the mainstage on Saturday afternoon, a style that works not only in dark and sweaty clubs but which is also conducive to starting your day off right. We’re assuming that many of you will be working out the kinks from a full and amazing Friday (and perhaps even an after party that had you dancing into the wee hours), and Eco’s smooth, melodious vibe might be the perfect way for you to ease back into the festival groove. While he is more widely appreciated overseas, he has also been a staple at ASOT and other US festivals of late which has in turn allowed him to grow his American fanbase. With his recent compilation “The Constellations in You,” as well as numerous singles on Armin Van Buuren’s Armada, he will be ready to come through with a fresh and innovative set with plenty of new material.

Hilltop Arena

Must See: Mord Fustang- Rusko and Wolfgang are also credible must-see picks in Hilltop (though FYI, I have seen Wolfgang Gartner twice already this summer and he performed basically the same exact set both times — and it wasn’t like he was inside of a spaceship with Ultra-quality light shows happening…okay, I digress, whatever). But since we feel like most of you probably know plenty about Wolfgang and Rusko already, we’re giving the spotlight to Mord Fustang. Mord Fustang is definitely underrated given his talent level; it’s surprising that people aren’t more loudly and overtly obsessed with him because he truly occupies an amazing and unique niche. He can technically be classified on the house spectrum somewhere between electro- and progressive-, but it’s house with a lush, colorful, and almost diabolically psychedelic twist. He has the opulence of Zedd and the groovy, disco-infused funk of Madeon. His sets are uplifting, innovative, unexpected, and totally engaging. In short? Mord Fustang is awesome and a definite must-see. I already have the feeling that he might be my sleeper favorite set of the weekend.

Can Miss: Martin Solveig – “Ehhhhh.” That’s kind of how we feel about Martin Solveig’s live performances. Martin’s definitely had some great hits, but ultimately we’re not going to go out of our way to see a set that has even the slightest potential to underwhelm when literally every single other thing happening is so much more awesome (see: Dada Life; 12th Planet; Sander Van Doorn; Maya Jane Coles). Accordingly, we will be sitting this one out and taking our business elsewhere. (Note: We assume it goes without saying that you can miss The White Panda.)

Sleeper: DallasK – 21 year-old DallasK used to be known primarily for his energetic but ultimately safe bootlegs of well-known tracks (like SHM’s “Leave The World Behind” and Porter’s “The Wildcat”), but he has recently begun to delve into the far more interesting realm of remixes and original production. While I’ve yet to see anything that seriously distinguishes this newcomer from the rest of the electro-house pack, we can definitely expect a hard-hitting and uplifting set that could potentially serve to broaden his fanbase. Hey, I remember seeing Porter Robinson early in the day last year at Electric Zoo when barely anyone knew who he was…and every single person in that crowd left completely blown away. You never know.

Riverside – Dim Mak

Must See: Kill The Noise – There are a few good arguments to be made here, but for me this title goes to Kill The Noise. In the past year he has established himself as one of the most innovative dubstep producers in the game, thanks to a truly original sound and the ability to wring genuine musicality out of the dark and the very guttural. Oh: and his debut EP basically blew everyone away. Though his style is definitely on the heavier side of heavy, and the rough, growly synths that have become his trademark aren’t for the faint of heart, expect a raw and intense showing from this young OWSLian that will get you in touch with your primal side. Bonus: he’s also sure to drop overlappy OWSLA tracks (because OWSLA is effectively a giant bromance), so if you’re going to be missing Dillon, Porter or Zedd during the weekend you can probably count on hearing some of their stuff in here.

Can Miss: Steve Aoki – Ah, Steve. Steve Steve Steve. You seem like such an awesome guy, and some day I’d really like to join you on a magical dolphin ride into a vat of cherry jello, or whatever the hell it is you do in your spare time, but I’m going to be giving your set a pass on Saturday. Why? Because this is how it will go: Steve takes the stage in a wife beater and neon Nike Dunks. He puts on “Turbulence.” He rubs a genie lamp, conjuring up Lil Jon, who emerges bearing a case of champagne, an inflatable zebra, and a mic. He promptly begins hollering unintelligible pump-up nonsense under the pretense of hyping the crowd. Back to Steve, who has since leapt athletically onto the DJ booth and is now doing jumping jacks in time to the beat. “Earthquakey People” cuts in. Steve chucks an enormous, heavy-looking sheet cake with remarkable accuracy into the face of a chick who is half naked and screaming bloody murder…but like, she’s not, because she really wants that cake in the face. Aoki remix of “Pursuit of Happiness” into Tommy Trash remix of “Ladi Dadi,” and…that’s it, ladies and gentlemen. Steve out. And now you’ve experienced an Aoki set in under three minutes and won’t feel like you’re missing out when you make it a point to go somewhere else on Saturday night.

Sleeper: Angger Dimas – Indonesian DJ / Producer Angger Dimas has a sound that varies quite dramatically depending on the collab he is doing (Tiesto, Laidback Luke, Bassjackers, Steve Aoki), the remix he is doing, or simply the song he is doing. His sound is part Dutch, part electro, part tech…but all madness. He is one of those guys whom you see on remix duty all the time, and you know immediately that he will put out a top-quality production that will be unique, interesting, and distinctive in the package. His recent collab with Laidback Luke, “Night Like This,” will get a huge crowd reaction, but do not sleep on his other productions or miss out on his incredible energy on stage.

Sunday School Groove

Must See: Sasha- Before Avicii and Afrojack were embarking on monster arena tours in the US, before Live Nation had a financial stake in festival production, and before there was a three letter acronym for dance music, electronica vanguards Sasha and John Digweed had already been there/done that/ bought the t-shirt, dominating major cities around the globe and establishing their status as legends behind the decks. Sasha is simply par excellence in the dance music community. While he will not be flanked by his right hand man at Electric Zoo, he is absolutely certain to bring incredible vibes to the Sunday School Grove tent. In today’s world of predictable builds and crowd-baiting drops, some may claim that Sasha’s style of trancey, intelligent techno is too repetitive and boring. Those people are wrong. The slow-burn chromatic builds are the ones that are the most gratifying and if you give this master a chance to perform his craft for you, you might find that you actually lose yourself — as you immerse your mind in what is sure to be one of the most nuanced and innovative sets of the weekend.

Can miss: Frank & Tony – Earlybirds Frank & Tony spin incredibly deep, ambient house, and from noon to 1 pm on Saturday afternoon you’re probably going to want something that energizes you a little bit more. You may not even be trying to get to Randall’s Island this early in the day, but if you do, we advise that you check out Eco and Kyau & Albert on the mainstage. Warm up with some trance before the harder stuff kicks in at around 3 pm.

Sleeper: Sleepy & Boo – New York duo Sleepy & Boo also spin deep house, but their particular variety features quicker, snappy kicks and funked-out, disco-inspired riffs with choppy vocals. If you’re committed to getting to Electric Zoo when the gates open, they are your clear choice. Grab a beer and make sure you’re ready to dance, because their set will get you moving and strike the perfect balance between mellow and upbeat.

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