out and about: electric zoo
  • WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 08, 2010

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New York City's electronic music festival, Electric Zoo, is only in its second year, but it brought hordes of ravers in varying amounts of clothing and varying states of inebriation, and a star-studded lineup of DJs and electronic music acts spread out over four stages on Randall's Island. One guy can only hit so many acts, but here are the highlights of my day.

The first really memorable act I caught was The Glitch Mob, who performed live with MPC pads, laptops and electronic drums. The live performance was eye-catching and set them apart from the multitude of dance music DJs, as did their funky but heavy, hip-hop based backbeats. Each of the three members also did a live MPC breakdown, which was an interesting break from the relentless dance beats. It's always fun to see talented individuals show off a little bit live, even at an electronic music oriented festival.

This was followed by legendary trance DJs and radio hosts Above & Beyond, whose set showcased their prowess as both producers and trance tastemakers. They spun a selection of hits from their illustrious career, including their recent Beatport number one "Anphonic" with Kyau & Albert, as well as new releases from their Anjunabeats label and fan favorites from their Trance Around the World radio show. They interacted with the crowd via a laptop with messages on the screen, which they occasionally held up for everyone to read, which was an interesting idea, but not one I see replacing the trusty DJ mic anytime soon.

A real hidden gem in this year's lineup was progressive house artist Chris Lake. He played to a half-full, but enthusiastic crowd on the festival's second-largest stage, and was far and away the best of any of the house acts I saw. His set was flawlessly paced with a mixture of anthemic melodies and heavy beats, and featured a few tracks by the absent man of the moment Deadmau5, including the older "The Reward is Cheese" and the recent Deadmau5-Chris Lake collab "I Said." It probably didn't hurt that it finally started to get dark at this point (he went onstage at 7:15) and the light show really started to kick in, but this gentleman is an amazingly talented DJ and producer and deserved a far bigger crowd than he got.

I opted to skip most of festival headliner and trance star Armin van Buuren and close out my night with dubstep pioneer Bassnectar, which was an excellent choice. This was no doubt the best performance of any of the acts I saw - Bassnectar turned the place upside down with an excellent, and extremely loud, mix of his hits and current dubstep, and the crowd went completely f&#king nuts for the entire hour and 15 minute set. Glowsticks and assorted bottles filled the air at regular intervals, and some daring individuals even climbed frighteningly far up the tent poles (no one fell, luckily). Bassnectar closed with his remix of Metallica's "Seek and Destroy," which works amazingly well for a metal/electronica crossover - I had never heard it and expected a bomb, but I was pleasantly surprised. At this point I was mostly deaf, but definitely committed to returning next year. -peter menniti

* * * * * * * * * * * *
The Glitch Mob Official Site
Above & Beyond Official Site
Chris Lake on Myspace
Bassnectar Official Site

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