Electric Zoo 2016 Continues Festival's Comeback: Top 15 Performances

Electric Zoo 2016
Courtesy of aLIVE coverage and PJMIII

Electric Zoo 2016 

New York City festival to return in 2017 after reportedly drawing 83,000 attendees.

Made Event's Electric Zoo dance music festival entered 2016 with plenty to prove. 

Following truncated 2013 and 2014 editions, respectively due to drug-related deaths and inclement weather, the New York festival passed without major incident last year, following a comprehensive relaunch that included expanded zoo-themed production in partnership with fellow SFX Entertainment subsidiary ID&T. 

Can Electric Zoo Bounce Back After Tragedy?

However, festival organizers were eager to demonstrate that 2015 was no fluke, particularly given ID&T North America and Made Event's new leadership under former Life in Color CEO Sebastian Solano and SFX's announced bankruptcy in February.

Electric Zoo's eighth edition boasted a new "Wild Island" theme, cobra-shaped main stage and partnerships with European event brands Elrow and ANTS. After reportedly drawing 83,000 total attendees over the weekend, Electric Zoo's organizers announced that it had sold out on Sunday (Sept. 4) and would return in 2017.

Billboard Dance was on the scene to recap the top performances from the three-day festival.


The Chainsmokers?

The New York natives returned to their hometown as conquering heroes with No. 1 hit "Closer" sitting pretty atop the Billboard Hot 100. The collaboration with Halsey featured prominently in their main stage set on Sunday, slotted in nicely alongside fellow Hot 100 hits "Roses" and "Don't Let Me Down" and well-received remixes of Taking Back Sunday and Dr. Dre. "Guess who's back?" Drew Taggart appropriately asked the crowd before dropping "The Next Episode."

Porter Robinson

Robinson makes arena-sized, combustible pop lullabies, full of cheesy, satisfying synthesizer riffs and cannon drums. This music is made for main stages: the massive, earsplitting sound system rendered Robinson's reassuring tracks in remarkable detail, and fireworks whooshed into the night at opportune moments.


The Santa Cruz native had quite the action-packed Labor Day Weekend, jet-setting between New York's Electric Zoo, Chicago's North Coast Festival and Nocturnal Wonderland in San Bernadino, Calif. If he was pacing himself for the holiday weekend, his headlining bass music bonanza sure didn't show it.



Carnage demonstrated the extent to which southern hip-hop has infiltrated the big tent electronic sound: there's no production style in the mainstream with more power. He selected a pair of songs from Travis Scott — including his hit "Antidote" from last year, and his gummy new track with Young Thug and Quavo, "Pick Up The Phone" — 2 Chainz's "Watch Out," and Desiigner's "Panda," one of the most successful love letters to the Atlanta sound. Another Atlanta pioneer, Lil Jon, popped up in "Welcome To The Jungle," originally by Alvaro & Mercer, and Carnage's own track "WDYW," included rapping from Atlanta's Rich the Kid

Flux Pavilion 

Flux Pavilion brought textured sheets of noise and rhythm to the main stage. The beats galloped and thundered, while the melodies approximated any number of violent scenarios: a set of dishes being hurled down the staircase, a drunk banging angrily on the door with increasing vehemence, a chop saw tearing apart a brick house, nails scraped against a chalkboard at extreme speed, a cement mixer overheating and then cooling down — only to overheat again. Voices drifted in and out of focus, awash in the maelstrom.


It was somewhat surprising to hear the Red Hot Chili Peppers as a go-to nostalgia play for DJs at Electric Zoo, but fans didn't seem to mind when Matoma put on "Under The Bridge." He also played a Jay Z remix and Dr. Dre's "The Next Episode," a tough, funky track at odds with much of the rest of Matoma's set, which focused on edgeless palliatives like his rework of One Directon's "Perfect." When he played Major Lazer's "Lean On," one festival goer sprayed everyone around him with bubbles.

Big Gigantic

Fresh off the release of new album Brighter Future, the Colorado duo delivered plenty of new material in their Saturday evening set, including "The Little Things" ft. Angela McCluskey and their GRiZ collab "C'mon." They even brought out horn hero Brasstracks for good measure.


---- #Ezoo

A photo posted by Big Gigantic (@biggigantic) on


Shaun Frank

It was a good time for Frank to play his very first Electric Zoo: he co-wrote the Chainsmoker's hit "Closer," which has been the No. 1 hit in the country for two weeks. He interspersed his own work — "Dope Girlz," a collaboration with Steve Aoki, and a remix of Duke Dumont's "Ocean Drives" — between a tour of recent crossover rap hits and pop house: Post Malone's "White Iverson," Calvin Harris & the Disciples' "How Deep Is Your Love" (one of the weekend's most popular tracks). Frank scratched every itch: for nostalgia, there was Kid Cudi's "Day 'N' Night;" in a nod to the New York crowd, there was A$AP Ferg's indispensable "Work" remix; to represent his own hometown of Toronto, try the Weeknd's "The Hills." At the end of his set, he brought out the singer Delaney Jane for live renditions of a couple of their tunes: "La La Land" and "Heaven."


What a Week-End!! Thanks @electriczoony , & @delaney.jane . Thanks @alivecoverage for this beauty !

A photo posted by SHAUN FR∀NK (@shaunfrank) on


Louis The Child

Louis the Child's Frederic Kennett helped write the Chainsmoker's No. 1 hit "Closer," and it's easy to see why: Louis's bread and butter is slow, feathery pop. The duo picked their own track "It's Strange" — a very light expression of complete and total infatuation — as the final song of their set. The pair's favorite dance move involved two-handed brush off in time to the drums, as if the producers were dusting a mantelpiece or brushing crumbs off a high tabletop.

Anna Lunoe 

"I'm playing lots of unreleased music tonight," Lunoe declared towards the end of her set. And her choices were pleasantly hard to identify, aside from a few rap favorites — Jay Z's "Big Pimpin'," the gunshot rattle of Skepta's "Man," D.R.A.M. and Lil Yachty's cheerful "Broccoli," possibly a snatch of Busta Rhymes light-speed rapping from "Look At Me Now." She also shouted out Uniiqu3 and DJ Sliink, both of whom will accompany her on the Hyperhouse tour this fall.

Moon Boots

Much of the Electric Zoo lineup hails from the more aggressive wing of electronic music, but Moon Boots used the small, covered confines of the "Sunday School Grove" stage to promote a different sort of club experience, one ruled by funky basslines, disco licks, piano runs, and vocals from '70s songs that you wish you knew. 

Andrew Rayel

Armin van Buuren's Moldovan mentee brought his euphoric brand of vocal trance music to the festival's main stage on Sunday, playing unreleased material alongside plenty of favorites off his Find Your Harmony radio show.


Patrick Topping

Much of Topping's set was linear and unsurprising. But as he brought things to a close, he suddenly played Midland's "Final Credits," one of the year's finest house tracks. The song has an extended intro, and Topping played it out, forcing the crowd to wait for the lovelorn vocal sample that eventually tumbles into the tune from above. "Final Credits" was a little too slow for the type of kinetic shuffle-dancing that dominates a festival like this, so the crowd was forced to adapt their movements accordingly. 


The two members of Bicep played a hard-driving set — and one of the longest at the festival. One track mimicked the inexorable build of the duo's own tune, "Just;" another seemed to loop part of First Choice's "It's Not Over" into a fierce mantra. At one point, the Kyla vocal sample popularized by Drake's "One Dance" peaked briefly out from behind a beat. Some DJs would linger on this to make sure the crowd realized what they were hearing; Bicep just moved on.

Henrik Schwarz 

Going up against The Chainsmokers ensured that the German producer/composer's Sunday School set was an underground heads-only affair. Those who ventured into the veteran's deep labyrinth of sound did not emerge disappointed.


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