Written by Mara M. Mannella
Photo credit: Electric Zoo
Labor Day Weekend is around the corner and for many electronic music lovers that means a journey to New York’s Randall’s Island. Just like the 5 boroughs themselves, Electric Zoo has character all its own with a lineup just as diverse as the city it takes place in. Any true New Yorker can tell you, each borough has its own personality, so to help guide your way around the stages of “The 6th Boro”, we’ve matched up a few DJs you can catch at Electric Zoo with the borough we think suits them best.
DJ Snake, Zedd, Above & Beyond
Manhattan is synonymous with the Big Apple. Featuring attractions like the Empire State Building and Times Square, even the most sheltered traveler knows they can find some of the most iconic spots in the world here. DJs matched up with Manhattan have that same crossover notoriety, appealing to the masses. DJ Snake’s hits have gone beyond the reaches of the electronic music realm. Let’s face it, even your mom probably “turned down for what” at your cousin’s wedding. Zedd’s catchy tracks can be heard everywhere from pop radio to TV commercials. His sets are the perfect mix of stunning new tracks and feel-good hits. Above & Beyond, who may not qualify as household names, are icons in the industry, having sold out Manhattan’s own Madison Square Garden for their stellar ABGT 100 gathering.
Danny Tenaglia, Victor Calderone, The Black Madonna
Much like the borough itself, DJs aligned with Brooklyn are determined and eclectic, constantly evolving and inviting new followers into their fold. Brooklyn natives Danny Tenaglia and Victor Calderone bring their world-renowned sounds up the East River to Electric Zoo, pleasing house and techno heads alike. Out of towners would do well to see these icons put on a clinic in their home city. The Black Madonna, though hailing from Chicago, has a smooth yet funky sound that oozes the vibe of BK. She appears on the same day the famed elrow experience takes over the Hilltop Arena so prepare to get groovy between confetti blasts. Honorable mention goes to Wingtip, a producer with promise operating out of Brooklyn, who’s bouncy tunes would be a welcome companion on a breezy walk through Park Slope.
Yellow Claw, Wax Motif, Seven Lions
Hard hitting, raw and a touch of street are a few characteristics that embody the Bronx. Home to the superstar Yankees, creator of some of the world’s best rappers and yes there is even a zoo – the Bronx brings the New York flavor like no other. Surely no one has ever categorized Amsterdam heavy hitters Yellow Claw as “soft”. Their sets grab audiences from the first beat and don’t let go until the mic is dropped. Maybe it’s no coincidence the founder of this borough, Jonas Bronck, was Dutch. Wax Motif is a god amongst men, expertly weaving house and bass with a hip hop influence to create an infectious sound that would make the most solemn fan in a Yankees fitted shuffle into the early morning. Seven Lions has a certain calm about him but don’t let his chill demeanor fool you. His sets blast witnesses into new dimensions, providing incredible mixes of feels and filth. But sure, maybe we just couldn’t resist including him here thanks to the whole zoo thing – the lion’s den is no joke!
Thomas Jack, Dada Life, Armin van Buuren
Staten Island offers sandy beaches, waterfront views and a certain sense of history and belonging. A day in this borough could consist of an umbrella and a beach chair or a local museum binge. Thomas Jack is in tune with Staten Island’s relaxed and beachy side. Undoubtedly, his tropical house groove invites thoughts of fruity drinks and a salty breeze. Staten Island has also spawned its share of tight knit crews, the borough is the birthplace of the Wu Tang Clan. And who provides a more community feel at their shows than Dada Life? Dada Land is known worldwide for its welcoming nature and Dada Life sets deliver a message of family – in short, it’s bananas. History buffs, we’ve got you covered too – did you know the inaugural Electric Zoo took place in 2009? Present at the monumental event was the one and only Armin van Buuren, among many others. His now legendary A State of Trance podcast wasn’t even 10 years old yet and Electric Zoo was still a 2-day event featuring just 55 other headliners.
Oliver Heldens, Claptone, Claude Von Stroke
The borough of Queens brings together an intoxicating mix of people, flavors and entertainment. Quickly becoming a go-to spot for lovers of the eclectic, Queens is unassumingly cool. The DJs that fit here? One is Oliver Heldens. A set from this loveable Dutchman provides nonstop good vibes, his sunny and upbeat pace makes it hard to stand still. Claptone brings an international flair to the festival, mesmerizing fans around the world . His sets have a magical house-inspired feel and he’s appropriately playing the colorful elrow stage on Sunday. Finally, Dirtybird founder Claude Von Stroke brings his irresistible brand of house and techno to E-Zoo on Saturday. His well-rounded catalog mimics the melting pot of Queens, with sets that provide anything from dark, brooding beats to addictive hip-hop inspired basslines.
Being held in the heart of the Big Apple gives Electric Zoo a certain gritty persona while still providing a whimsical sensory experience. Don’t be surprised by curious zoo animals creeping their way around the grounds and prepare yourself for a whirlwind musical experience all taking place in the best city on Earth.