This year marked the festival’s first edition after being acquired by New York’s biggest electronic music venue, Avant Gardner.
Electric Zoo was wild.
Over 100,000 people from 50 states and 51 countries took to Randall’s Island Park over Labor Day Weekend for the festival’s 13th edition. Fanfare is always high for Electric Zoo since it’s New York’s premier EDM festival, but the buzz was louder than ever in 2022 given its acquisition by New York’s most popular electronic music venue, Avant Gardner.
“Having spent 13 years with E-Zoo since its inception, I have to say that this was one of the most special editions we’ve ever had,” Michael Julian, Electric Zoo’s Chief Of Marketing said. “Working together with the new ownership we’ve brought about the start of an inspiring collaboration.”
Like past editions, Electric Zoo’s 2022 lineup spanned across a multitude of genres like house, techno, dubstep and trance. Superstar DJs like Martin Garrix, Armin van Buuren, Carl Cox and Porter Robinson were among the featured headliners while rising artists like Surf Mesa, QRTR and Rossy carved out a well-rounded lineup.
Electric Zoo has modeled past stages on elephants, snakes and phoenixes, among other creatures. But this year’s “3.0” theme eschewed the animal-themed stages in favor of a more minimal and futuristic aesthetic.
Antheon, Electric Zoo’s self-described magnum opus, was a unique construct of massive LED panels and textured natural rock.
Porter Robinson, who closed the festival on its first day, had one of the weekend’s most thrilling performances at Antheon. Fans were treated to classics like “Shelter” and “Language” alongside newer material from Robinson’s Nurture era, including “Look At The Sky” and “Something Comforting.”
But since he performed a rare DJ set in lieu of his patented live setup, Robinson deviated from his blissful style to explore trance, techno and melodic bass music. His headlining performance also incorporated a UK bass-inspired track featuring Sleepnet and Joker as well as “Rumble,” a coveted unreleased record from Skrillex, Fred again.. and Flowdan.
Perhaps the most visually stunning performance at Antheon was Chris Lake’s thunderous house set on Saturday night. The stage’s countless rotating LEDs were moving at full force, frenetically blanketing the crowd in a sea of lights. The lasers were programmed with precision, dancing through the air in spectacular synchrony.
To boot, Lake’s selections were typically top-notch, featuring fan-favorite originals like “Turn Off The Lights” and “I Want You” as well as a scary-good VIP version of “Deceiver.” He also dropped thrilling unreleased remixes of “A Drug From God,” his hit collaboration with NPC (an alias of Grimes) and “Mami,” Chris Lorenzo’s latest dancefloor smasher. Closing with Boys Noize’s unreleased “Fine Day” was the cherry on top.
The Landing, one of Electric Zoo’s three other stages, hosted full-day takeovers through the weekend. Tucked away in the southeast corner of the festival grounds, it felt like its own little world, a feeling made concrete by the portal-like visual panels bounding the ends of the stage.
Tchami’s Confession record label took over The Landing on Friday night, bringing forth an abundance of bass house with Malaa, Wax Motif and Matroda, among others. On Saturday the stage was home to Jauz’s Bite This! imprint, which delivered one of the festival’s most entertaining sets: a performance from NBA champion-turned dubstep headliner Shaquille O’Neal, who goes by the stage name DJ Diesel.
The Landing closed the weekend on Sunday with a “Carl Cox Invites” takeover. Not only were artists hand-picked by Cox himself—including renowned artists like Loco Dice and DJ Holographic—but the iconic DJ and techno producer performed at Electric Zoo for the first time in 11 years. It’s quite rare to see a Carl Cox festival set in the U.S.
Nested between Antheon and The Landing was Levitron, a stage that employed circular lighting design for a distinct visual experience.
Clozee’s Odyzey takeover on Sunday brought a colorful mix of euphoric and experimental bass music to Levitron. Trivecta had one of the most gripping sets here, ripping a live guitar solo of the Game of Thrones theme song during his performance.
Save for a high-octane takeover by Brownies & Lemonade on Friday, Morphosis was home to house music. Surrounded by gorgeous trees atop a hill in the southwest corner of the festival, the intimate, angular stage featured a slew of stellar house acts such as CamelPhat, Cristoph, AC Slater and CID. They transformed Morphosis into a proper dance party.
Beyond a great curation of artists and a variety of stages, Electric Zoo stands out for its fantastic location. Randall’s Island Park is easily accessible by public transport, car or foot. The festival grounds are lush, sprinkled with tall trees and long stretches of natural grass.
Towering green walls erected in the middle of the festival were built by sound engineers specifically to prevent sound bleeding, which has plagued Electric Zoo in the past. The walls provided termination points for the main stage’s lasers, allowing them to operate within New York state laws. Sprucing up the bare walls with art in the “3.0” theme would have been a nice touch, but it’s tough to complain with such a multi-sensory fest.
“We’ve done the best we could in the short time that we had,” said Billy Bildstein, the new owner of Electric Zoo said. “Now, with a full year of preparations, we are going to take the next step and welcome New Yorkers and guests from all over the world into a new era of festival experiences!”
Bildstein, who also owns Avant Gardner, only had a couple of months with Electric Zoo in his care before the festival took place. Naturally, such a short timeframe left little room for experimentation and new additions to the Electric Zoo experience. With a full year of planning and development ahead, it’ll be exciting to see fresh ideas brought to life under Electric Zoo’s new ownership for its 14th edition in 2023.
Check out our exclusive gallery from Electric Zoo 2022 below. Photos by Brian Rapaport for EDM.com.