Labor Day weekend has arrived and that means for me, Electric Zoo. Heading to my fourth one brings about the same level of excitement of past years with names like The Chemical Brothers, Above & Beyond, Galantis, Jonas Rathsman, Gramatik, Goldroom and RAC all on the three-day lineup.
Will we make to three days this year? We will find out, but see what happened on Friday, Sept. 4.
Here is what we saw.
12:00 p.m. - I can hear soundcheck from my apartment. Someone is dropping the bass quite early.
2:20 - First thing you notice is the biggest stage. The main stage is totally different this year - made to look like a bird and it is awesome. Glad somebody transformed that thing.
2:30 - All sets were pushed back a half-hour because of issues at the main gate. You would think they might have this down by now, but these issues seem to always come up. Anyway Piece Fulton is going in to pretty small crowd. He will have a bigger crowd at E Zoo soon.
3:30 - LA-based trap duo Slander are next and they are playing straight bangers. It just got heavy in here.
3:40 - Security gives me an attitude for not knowing where the media tent is when I ask them. They just happen to be standing in front of and blocking the signs telling me where it is. Thanks guys.
3:50 - I eventually make it to the tent and in the middle of my interview my interview with Haywyre, Slander play some screechy, abrasive dubstep sounds. I am completely thrown off.
4:40 - Wrap up talking with Galantis. Their seafox shows up not wearing the mask. What does she look like? You will just have to ask them.
4:45 - Walking back out there, Don Diablo is dropping his new tune with Tiësto "Chemicals." The change in sound has worked wonders for the Dutchman and this could be his biggest track yet.
5:43 - Audien is dropping some drum n bass right now. Am I at the right stage?
6:00 - Audien gets back to his soothing trance and all is right in the world.
6:05 - 3LAU = Bangers on bangers on bangers. This is food for the main stage
6:10 - Speaking of food, my wristband can't load E Zoo dollars onto it and no vendors take any cash. Filling up on water and beats is my only option for the night.
6:30 - Alison Wonderland is spinning an absolutely monster set. The small Australian is scratching on the CDJs in front of her an electrifying mix of hip-hop, trap, future bass and r&b. She released her debut album Run in March, so the set had a strong taste of that, but she also expertly mixed in trap and bass instrumentals with hip-hop and r&b vocals to give the songs an air of familiarity. It has only been a few hours, but this is the set of the weekend so far.
Her stage, Riverside got a major upgrade as well. It used to be a tent, but now it is outdoors and
6:50 - I wander into the Hilltop Arena for the first time to catch a little of Keys N Krates after seeing them the night before. The tent is sweltering hot because it is enclosed to avoid soundbleeding. The three-piece live electronic group is going in with their single "Dum Dee Dum." The heat and humidity is worth it.
7:05 - Cashmere Cat is getting sexy with the crowd. Stone faced and sad looking as ever, he is caressing his audience with a sultry mix of r&b and sexy electronic beats.
7:20 - Getting close to the Sunday School Tent, the number of shirtless, muscled, tanned dudes grows exponentially. Awakenings has brought techno to NYC and we are being baptized in it by The Martinez Brothers. The tent also has some awesome production with lasers, lights and a large LED screen. Impressive for the underground.
7:30 - Cashmere Cat has turned things up with a little bit as he drops "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)". He is much more animated on stage, reflecting his more turned up song selections.
7:45 - Galantis in the Hilltop Tent is beyond hot. The tent is overflowing with people as the duo play a similar set to that of Lollapalooza, but with some noticeable differences like including Deniz Koyu's classic "Tung" in the mix. The crowd loves this set (myself included) as they elevate things a little more with live drum machines and occasional keyboard work.
8:15 - Madeon keeps things interesting with a wild and sometimes chaotic mix of deep house, electro house and bass music together with some of his own tunes. The sun has almost set and now things can really get going.
8:18 - He plays "Deep Down Low." It is the third time I have heard it today and probably the electronic, non-radio track of the year.
8:30 - Zeds Dead have the second to last headlining slot on the main stage and they are doing their thing with a blend of hip-hop, drum n bass and dubstep.
9:15 - Who wants some funk on a Friday? Everyone at Gramatik in the Hilltop Arena, which has cleared out considerably from its overflowing state during Galantis, is. He is up there with his two Exmag brothers, Russ Liquid and Gibbs who are playing keyboard, trumpet and sax and guitar and singing respectively. The heavy, funky bass lines are just what the doctor ordered.
9:25 - Time for the main event - The Chemical Brothers. They kick off their set with the classic "Hey Girl, Hey Boy." It is on like Donky Kong.
10:20 - These dudes are absolutely crushing the main stage, which is not that crowded. The festival wasn't that packed in general, but there is plenty of room to dance on the blacktop, which is normally packed to the gills. They take a short break to soak things in as the crowd heaps praise upon them.
10:55 - The Chemical Brothers wrap things up with "Block Rockin' Beats" and nobody wants them to stop. After putting together a proper rave set with new material and old, these dudes proved what a live electronic music set should be. It was all synced to top-shelf production with lasers, eclectic visuals and lights.
Sorry Alison Wonderland, The Chem Bros just took the top spot for set of the weekend.
— Music Times (@TheMusicTimes) September 5, 2015