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Electric Zoo Celebrates 5 Years of Dance Music in NYC and What You Won’t Find on This Year’s Main Stage(s)

Dada Life @ Electric Zoo 2012
Dada Life @ Electric Zoo 2012

Compared to festivals like Ultra and Coachella, both having celebrated their 15th anniversaries in 2013, Electric Zoo is a infant. Yet the impact made by the festival cannot be overlooked. What started as a relatively small celebration of dance music in 2009 with only 26,000 attendees has grown to be one of the largest destination festivals in the country and expects to see well over 100,000 fans in attendance this year. As comes with recognition and tradition, the lineup has grown to almost 140 DJ’s and artists announced for this year’s event to date, with a few surprises sure to crop up in the coming month.

Having personally attended three of the five years of Electric Zoo, I have, like many others, come to experience the transformation of the festival from a niche celebration of dance music to a (sometimes gross) representation of the enormous popularity of “EDM” and the droves of young, irresponsible kids and illicit drugs that it attracts. And while this may have led many purists to turn their back on the festival to avoid such things, the fact remains that Made Event, the NYC-based promoters of the festival, consistently put their best foot forward to deliver an experience and a lineup that can appeal to just about everyone.

In order to accomodate what will probably be their biggest crowd yet, Electric Zoo has implemented two main stages this year in addition to the regular players: the Hilltop Arena, Riverside and Sunday School Grove. Perhaps also to host what may be their most massive lineup as well. Delivering almost every major DJ in the world in one three-day weekend, Electric Zoo promises to satisfy the mainstream EDM fan’s wildest dreams, at least until they get to the scheduling conflicts.

But if hearing Avicii drop his latest electro-country track or seeing David Guetta press play on his decks isn’t your bag, Electric Zoo makes up for it with a long list of must-see artists spread across the stages. Here’s some of my picks for each day, away from the madness of the main stages:

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Columbia’s Spring Concert Gets Turnt Up by Macklemore & Flosstradamus

Once every year, the kids at Columbia manage to ditch the books for the day and leave the library to throw down right outside of it. This year, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Flosstradamus helped us celebrate Bacchanal and the festivities couldn’t have been better. By 11:30 the steps outside of the old library were jam-packed with people  awaiting the opening band and the debauchery was in full swing. DJs were filling empty time out of the back of a red bull truck, girls were splashing around like kids in the fountains, and the crowd was about as violent as at an Odd Future show.

Macklemore hopped on stage at noon donning a Knicks jersey to a crowd 5000-strong. Since I don’t listen to him, I wasn’t expecting much; he delivered the goods and then some. Dancing around through the hits and chatting with the crowd, his on stage presence was a force to behold. Before hopping into the massive sing along that was “Thrift Shop,” he nabbed a fur coat out of the crowd to don before “making it crowd surf” back to its owner. Towards the end of his hour-long set, he delivered the line of the day to the sweaty-riddled masses, “I’m in front of a big ass library! Thanks for letting me come to your school on a Saturday and dry hump your women.”

With that, the transition between the EDM haters and the trapped out maniacs made things even messier. The Silver Triangle was inflated behind the DJ booth as the Hoodie Boyz came out all, well, hoodied up. This being my first time seeing a full Floss set (I caught about 20 minutes at Ultra), I had no real frame of reference. Regardless, they blew the stage up as they tore through an hour and a half of their unmistakable style. Dillon Francis’s “Suit & Tie” Remix flew right into Jah No Partial and there was no time to catch your breath as the pulled out their “Same Damn Time” & “Total Recall” mash to bring it home. Then they had just about the everyone belting it out for “Backseat Freestyle” right into Carnage’s trapped out “Spaceman” remix. The crowd stumbled back and forth en masse, girls got peed on (yes, I’ve heard a couple of stories already), and everyone raged on until they closed it out with their classic “Original Don” remix.

At 2:30, the kids with some degree of energy remaining moved to the Red Bull truck, the less tolerant crowd returned to their dorms to nap, and everyone else fled out onto Broadway as the festivities carried on into the wee hours of the night where thousands of kids took over the bars and frat houses of Morningside Heights.

And then everybody got back to the library. Below are a couple of sounds from the day as well as a humorous video of a girl in the Columbia library fountain after the jump!

Major Lazer & Flux Pavilion – Jah No Partial

Hardwell – Spaceman (Carnage Festival Trap Remix)

Flosstradamus – Total Recall

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Two New Tracks from Branchez

Photo Credit: <a href="">Shoot People</a>
Photo Credit: Shoot People

I’ve been a big fan of Branchez‘ song “Shake” since it came out a few months ago and if you have yet to pick it up, you need to do so immediately. The NYC-based producer takes a more musical approach than can usually be expected from trap productions, which was perfectly exemplified on “Shake”, which featured jazz influence in the form of piano and horns, creating an atmosphere of old and new. His latest comes in the form of two singles, one a high-energy trap original and the other a Rihanna “Stay” bootleg. The former is made most intriguging by the child-like samples that make up part of the beat. The Rihanna bootleg, while it has quite the indie feel to it, was the standout for me. Right off the bat, Rihanna infamous voice is hardly recognizable due to the incredible vocal treatment. The song never leaves the comfort of its minimalistic hip-hop flavor and that’s just what you have to love about it. 15K plays in 2 days can’t be wrong… Free downloads on both of these over on Branchez Facebook page.

Q&A: The Knocks

The Knocks, made up of James Patterson (left) and Ben Ruttner, have been churning out fanciful indie dance tunes since 2009 but have really become something of an online sensation as of late, with seemingly every single remix and original of theirs receiving massive blog support (for good reason) and quickly climbing to coveted spots on the top of the Hype Machine charts. The two hail from New York City but have been touring more and more lately; in fact, they have even been asked to perform alongside acts like Major Lazer, Justice, Boys Noize, Diplo and A-Trak on the second Holy Ship cruise, setting sail early next year. We had a chance to connect with James and ask him some questions about The Knocks’ past, present and future. Click through and be sure to grab the free download of their newest remix after the interview.

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Junior Byron – Dance To The Music (Gigamesh Version)

Gigamesh has had an unbelievable summer of touring in the states with the support of some of his best friends in the business. Jamming some of the grooviest tunes all summer long, it was a pleasure catching him not once, but twice this summer. His sets fill me with happiness as he masters the nu-disco sound on stage or wherever his music is playing. As he prepares to set sail for Australia and then Europe he leaves us with one final remix that is sure to keep the good times rolling.

Junior Byron – Dance To The Music (Gigamesh Version)

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New York City: Gigamesh will be playing at the Beekman Beer Garden tonight as one of his last stops before going overseas for the remainder of the year. This show will be tight!

Survival Sunday: EDC NYC Announcement and New Tracks From Madeon, Laidback Luke and Friends, Wolfgang Gartner and More

Well, I must say, the announcement released this week for Electric Daisy Carnival to make a stop by NYC on its way to Vegas came pretty unexpected. It only makes sense that NY would finally get a piece of the action, even if they have been behind the EDM curve for quite some time, and those of you on the east coast who have yet to have a Daisy Carnival experience are in for one hell of a ride (pun intended). No details on the lineup, ticket price or venue (although speculation is it will take place in the Giant’s new home MetLife Stadium) but, with tickets going on sale Friday, there isn’t a whole lot of time to waste thinking. I have no doubt this one will sell out sooner or later and suggest anyone with the means attempt to hop on tickets immediately, lineup or not. If you’re wondering what the awesome song from the trailer is, you might remember we posted that a while back (it’s the Charles Deluxe remix of Revolr’s “The Beat Goes On”) so be sure to add it to your collection. Keep an eye on the website for more details.

But enough of that, let’s get into the regular deal. First up, French prodigy Madeon’s big single “Icarus”, which we’ve all been waiting for for a long time, finally dropped today. It’s more amazing French electro from the youngin’ and is sure to make you groove. Don’t say I didn’t tell you about Keys N Krates as their remix gives the original a real run for the money.

Madeon – Icarus (Extended Mix)

Madeon – Icarus (Keys N Krates Remix)

Next, Laidback Luke teamed up with French producers Arno Cost and Norman Doray to produce this new jam. The vocal sample is fun but I kind of expected more out of these three. Still a worthwhile jam for sure. Definitely good to see LBL putting out a steady stream of tunes but I’m still waiting on the next “Timebomb” or “Turbulence”.

Laidback Luke, Arno Cost, Norman Doray – Trilogy (Original Mix)

Wolfgang Gartner, one of THE BEST ELECTRO PRODUCERS EVER, if you didn’t know, released an interesting remix of LMFAO’s “Sorry for Party Rocking” alongside R3hab this week. Featuring some of his strange yet and heavy electro sounds, it give a much more respectable sound to the song. Also, today Wolfgang received 200K Facebook likes (that’s IT? Are you kidding me??) so he released a bootleg/mashup pack for free on his SoundCloud. Nothing amazing but worth checking out, especially if you’re a DJ.

LMFAO – Sorry For Party Rocking (Wolfgang Gartner Remix)

Finally, a lesser known producer and DJ, Bailey Smalls, released this funky, bassline-driven house track this week for free through his SoundCloud. While his name may not stand in the same vein as the others mentioned here today, this song speaks for itself. No doubt you’ll hear this one working its way into sets this summer.

Bailey Smalls – Music Is The Answer 2012

BONUS: I don’t really feel like this deserved the cut for the top four but you’ll definitely be hearing this one around. Seems like it’s a bit late as this song already got played out hard over the summer but maybe they’re hoping to breathe some life back into it. Whatever, it’s still my ringtone…

Sebastian Ingrosso & Alesso – Calling (Lose My Mind) [Vocal Mix]