3 Sep 2017: Randall's Island New York
Electric Zoo 2017 was by no means perfect. Having attended only the final day of NYC’s major EDM fest, I arrived fresh on site to find the fields full of mud. I should have known better given the rain on Saturday, but I managed not to slip, nor get any mud on my camera. And the crew worked hard to get hay on the field to prevent any one else from falling. So that counts as a success.
I caught part of a variety of acts, including Ookay’s set which interspersed some rock, the drum and bass heavy set from Sub Focus, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano’s energetic set and of course the headliners, Armin van Buuren, and Deadmau5 & Eric Prydz. I still didn’t know most of the music, but I did enjoy more of what I heard this year than last. So there’s another point for EZoo. (Photos of many of these acts are below.)
One stage/set, however, put me off a bit, and that was elrow’s unique Hilltop Arena theme. Supposedly stirring notions of Bollywood production, the little I saw of the stage and some of the dancers and other entertainment that was brought out was in some ways offensive. Maybe it was okay that white folks dazzled the crowd; elrow didn’t need to get actual desi people to perform. But they managed to confuse Hindu iconography with Bollywood flair and topped one man with a Ganesha mask. Then there was this costume that was super unclear as to what it would be (a travesty?). Was she aiming to be Bollywood in a fat suit? I didn’t get it. There goes a point for EZoo.
The fest managed to move the Hilltop Arena from its old location down the field this year making Randall’s Island more compressed. And this worked to the festival’s advantage, given there was little to no noise bleed if you were aiming to hear a specific stage/tent. (One more point for EZoo if we think keeping score is necessary.)
The other major let down was not seeing a lot of women or minorities in the lineup (Bollywood stage but no South Asian artists?). The ebb and flow of the EDM scene may have meant few of those kinds of performers were at the top of their game when the festival organizers selected performers. I can’t say for sure.
But many bracelets were traded between attendees. So I was happy to see people from all walks of life, like penguins and lions and a dog dressed as a lion, enjoying the music and each other’s company. e pluribus, PLUR.
// Notes from the Road
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