Electric Zoo is a huge electronic music festival that takes over Randall's Island, right outside of NYC, every Labor Day weekend. For 3 days, the island is transformed into an immersive urban jungle. Whether you're a basshead or a part of the trance family, there was something for everyone. Every type of electronic music was represented. EZoo 2017 marked the ninth year of the festival. We had been dying to check out a new festival anyways and once EZoo’s full lineup was released (hint: it was stacked), we knew we had to go.
Every day, we took a short ferry ride to get to Randall's Island. When buying tickets, they made it seem like the only way to get to the festival was either by buying a ferry pass or a bus shuttle ticket. It obviously didn't help that we didn't know the area very well, but if we had known there was a foot bridge option, we might have tried staying in Manhattan instead and just walked. But I really did enjoy taking the ferry. It was a unique way to get to a festival and it was fun seeing the city by water.
Every stage each day felt perfectly curated. They scheduled the majority of the Trance acts on Friday night and then Saturday was very Future House/Bass focused. You could post up at one stage all day if you really wanted to and you didn't feel like you had to run from stage to stage and end up missing certain acts. I think the Riverside stage ended up being my favorite from the weekend. It also had some great visuals and felt like you were looking into a giant aquarium.
Everyone in our group had very mixed music tastes so we knew we’d be separating periodically throughout the weekend. How the festival was laid was perfect for that. Randall's Island was small enough where you could easily get from stage to stage and you could easily find your friends again once you did split up. There was plenty of room to dance and move around and I never really felt crowded. I hate crowds, which baffles people that know I go to these events all the time, so I was loving it. Even though there was plenty of space, most of the stages still felt small and intimate. Being a female, I felt incredibly safe the whole time and felt okay going off on my own, whether it was just to find a bathroom or check out another stage. Luckily my friend Sam was down to explore so I never really had to spend much time by myself. I was also incredibly impressed with how short the lines were, whether it was filling up my water, waiting for food and drinks, or going to the bathroom. Less time waiting in lines means more time enjoying the music.
Also whenever I’m in crowds, especially at a festival, I always worry that my phone isn’t going to get service and that it’ll be impossible to send and receive texts. I usually figure that once I lose my friends, I’m not seeing them until it’s time to go home. But fortunately, my cell phone service was reliable the whole weekend.
The entire festival was cashless which was less annoying then I expected. Every time you purchased anything, whether it was food, drink, merch, or a glitter makeover, you had to swipe you wristband. It definitely made the lines run quicker and more efficiently, you just had to keep an eye on your balance throughout. You were able to top up your wristbands throughout the whole weekend and they had an ATM available onsite as well. If you didn't use up everything on your wristband, they did charge you a $5 refund fee to transfer everything back to your account. I had 3 extra dollars at the very end of the festival so it was easier just to tip the girl at the drink stand extra instead of dealing with getting charged the $5 refund fee.
They brought in local food vendors from around NYC, they had everything from sushi burritos and tacos to chicken and waffles and Hong Kong bubble waffles. Pretty much anything you could crave! They definitely set the bar for your typical festival food. They sold wine in addition to your typical beers, which I loved (maybe a little too much...). They still served liquor and mixed drinks, but only in certain areas within the festival.
At festivals, I always make sure to come armed with extra toilet paper for when it all inevitable runs out in the porta potties, but the unthinkable happened. There was toilet paper and even running water and soap to wash your hands with every single day, no matter what time you went (okay, the soap had run out by like 9 pm on the third day, but I’ll let that slide). Guys, it was incredible. Truly incredible.
The vibes throughout the whole weekend were incredible and infectous. We routinely stumbled upon spontaneous dance circles, shuffle meet ups, got to meet some Twitter friends in real life finally and just met some of the nicest people all weekend. Sam and I spent way too much to get a glitter makeover on the last day and definitely spent way to much on tiny cans of champagne, but who cares. It was fun. My body and my bank account were both hurting at the end but I'm so glad we went.
My highlights from the weekend included Rezz (duh.), Blackgummy, watching Gabby David dance on stage with Don Diablo, the Deadmau5 b2b Eric Prydz set, and dancing in the rain to Tchami. I was a huge fan of the festival and definitely plan on going back next year if the lineup is just as good. 10/10 would recommend. I wonder what fun surprises they'll have in store for their 10th anniversary?