EDC New York 2016 Day 1 Highlights: DJ Snake, Sleepy Tom, a Marriage Proposal & More
EDC returned to New York this weekend with a stacked lineup: a mix of stars (Zedd), youngsters with fresh hits (Sleepy Tom, Yellow Claw), and bare-bones techno veterans (Green Velvet). Billboard recaps the best moments from the first day at Citi Field.
12:37 p.m.: A man in a red, blue, and yellow Mohawk gets on the 7 train heading to Queens. Many of his fellow travelers are similarly decked out, leading him to quip, “I guess we’re on the right train, huh?”
2:34 p.m.: During the middle of a particularly fierce segment from Will Atkinson, a large homemade sign depicting Hillary Clinton wearing an EDC-appropriate headband makes an appearance. After a brief, soothing lull in the music, Atkinson redoubles the attack at faster speeds, and the Clinton sign bobs furiously. Outside the tent, another fan is holding a sign that repurposes a now-legendary quote from the rapper Birdman for dance music purposes: “put some respeck on my drop.”
3:22 p.m.: A dance circle in the middle of the crowd at Sleepy Tom dissolves as the producer throws on Young Thug’s “Digits.” As a consolation prize for those who wanted a stiffer beat, flame throwers belch jets of fire into the air.
3:31 p.m.: Despite the fact that Sleepy Tom is now playing Big Sean’s “Blessings,” a man in an unwieldy banana suit has restarted the dance circle. “Don’t be shy, New York,” Tom says to the crowd. “Sing along!” But in this part of the audience, everyone is too busy chanting “BA-NA-NA! BA-NA-NA!”
3:43 p.m.: 4B segues into Future’s gnawing hit “Fuck Up Some Commas.” It’s only a few hours into the festival and this song has already been played several times; it appears to be the go-to rap track for dance producers at the moment.
3:48 p.m.: Just as Ben Nicky unleashes his latest pile-driving beat, a man in a white tank-top clambers onto his friend’s shoulders to wave a long-poled flag with a simple message: “orgy partners.” The crowd goes wild, either signifying an appreciation for orgies or an excitement over Nicky’s latest rhythmic pattern.
4:46 p.m.: Marlo has four dancers on stage arrayed in the colors of the Mexican flag; he also employs synths that arrive with the force and grace of jackhammers. Someone in the crowd waves a sign that reads, “help me I’ve fallen and can’t turn up.” It’s a ruse: in fact the sign bearer appears highly mobile, jackknifing from side to side.
4:53 p.m.: Bixel Boys bring their set to an end by moving back in time: transitioning from ‘00s southern rap (Crime Mob, “Knuck If You Buck”), to priapic ‘90s R&B (Ginuwine, “Pony”), to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” It’s an easy but effective way to gain a crowd’s affection – and Sinatra sits boldly outside the sonic pallet of EDC. Sticking with the New York theme, Bixel Boys then moved into Nas’ “Made You Look.”
5:15 p.m.: In the middle of the scrum watching TJR, another circle forms. But this one is different: a man gets down on one knee, pulls out a ring box, and proposes to his girlfriend. She says yes, the crowd hoots, a beat drops. If only the banana man were here.
5:19 p.m.: The wildly theatrical main stage – the defining characteristics are a waterfall and a massive owl face – is officially opened by a master of ceremonies. (Defining characteristics: shirtless, blue-bearded.) He invites the crowd to “join me and the owl community”; more impressively, he seems to have control over when the stage emits fireworks.
6:44 p.m.: Green Velvet (Curtis Jones) brings out a group of dancers, all of whom are wearing American flag outfits. These colors mix with Jones’s neon color scheme – emerald, chartreuse, harlequin – to approximate a debauched techno-Christmas. Green Velvet plays his classic “Shake And Pop,” which seems fitting for a festival offering a panoply of electronic options: “I like electro/ I like retro/ I like ghetto/ House and techno.”
7:18 p.m.: Afrojack eschews the Atlanta rap that has appeared frequently at EDC so far in favor of Desiigner’s “Panda,” the No. 1 hit in the country for two weeks. Afrojack makes a few modifications to the song, adding a strafing, steroidal breakdown.
7:29 p.m.: The Master of Ceremonies returns for more faux-fantasy mumbo jumbo. At this point, the gargantuan, glaring owl face turns green, and his pupils appear extra-dilated. Adventure Club takes the stage and opens with a broadside of bunker-busting synthesizer, which makes the fireworks seem superfluous.
7:42 p.m.: Madeon is a hyper-active DJ, thrashing around behind his equipment like a wild man. He plays Daft Punk’s “Digital Love,” which came out in 2001 – an antecedent to today’s scene, and a reminder of the longevity of electronic songs with crossover ambition.
8:35 p.m.: Paul Oakenfold brings some edge to the evening with a dense, relentless, and rhythm-heavy set.
9:01 p.m.: Ferry Corsten (as Gouryella) takes the stage armed with some heavy philosophical questions. The screen flashes these in rapid success as the music begins to pick up speed: “who are you? Who are we? Where do we come from?” And finally, “Where will we go?” These are head-scratchers, but the thorny inquiries don’t derail the dancing.
9:16 p.m.: The members of Yellow Claw transition between a remix of Rihanna’s “Work” and their own successful collaboration with DJ Mustard and Ty Dolla $ign, “In My Room.” The light pulse of Rihanna’s single doesn’t quite meld with Yellow Claw’s heavy artillery approach, but the placement of “Work” next to “In My Room” suggests a savvy act of self-promotion: you like that hit? Try ours.
9:58 p.m.: DJ Snake works his way through a characteristically pugnacious set. He unveils a rigid, staccato version of what sounds like Alvaro and Mercer’s track with Lil Jon, but instead of Jon yelling, “welcome to the jungle,” he roars, “welcome to New York!”
11:20 p.m.: All the day’s excitement can’t entirely pull one group of college students away from worrying about their finals. “I’m curious about how we did in stats,” one boy announces as the 7 train pulls away from the festivities. The girl next to him replies, “I’m 50 shades of done with this semester.”