Filled with excitement, the ElectroJams team arrived to the Zoo 11:00 AM to Randall’s Park Island, ready to take on the 3-day festival madness. After some initial hiccups, the day would turn out incredible. There was a certain energy in the air that surrounded us; a buzzing sense of effervescent excitement. Everyone was smiling, even though they hadn’t yet entered the festival. When the team first arrived, we surveyed the area, scoping out the various spots: The media tent (where all the interviews would take place), the different food vendors, and of course, the water refill stations.
After casually checking out all four tents, we made our way to the Group Therapy stage where Jaytech brought his skillful mixing, and deep Anjuna catalogue. Fresh off his sophomore album release, Multiverse, Jake was especially eager to see how his sound would play with the early afternoon crowd. The crowd reacted with the same energy and uproar that Jaytech brought to the decks. Filled with excitement and energy, Jaytech set the stage for what would be a very memorable first day.Following the uplifting and progressive vibes, the team ventured over to the Main Stage for Alvin Risk. While we were both excited for the breadth and depth of acts on day 1, Shannon was most excited for Risk’s set. Even though he posted his first track just in 2011, he’s already gotten recognition from some huge names like Skrillex, Nero, Steve Aoki and others. Looking quite dapper in his signature cardigan and big glasses, Alvin Risk killed with his remixes of “Dirty Dancer” and “Make It Bun Dem”, and one of Shannon’s personal favorites, “Pendejas”. Not only did Risk bring a high-energy, ass-grinding set, the man even grabbed the mic where he laid down his own live vocals, separating his performance from many of the others. After Risk’s set, we stayed at the Main Stage for Hospital Records’ star Netsky’s set. Netsky brought a flair that few other DJs would match that day, liquid funk that just had everyone grooving. While the set was enjoyable and funky, MC Dynamite’s presence seemed to take away from Netsky’s magic. Knowing that the day would be long, the ElectroJams team found some shady, lush green grass to chill and re-group.
At this point, the ElectroJams team split up with Shannon heading to the Fool’s Gold tent for Dillon Francis and Jake returning to Main Stage for Dutch DJ Nicky Romero.
While Shannon’s personal affinity for fellows Los Angelan Dillon Francis might be strong, it doesn’t change that the cat-loving, moombah master Dillon Francis straight killed it. At one point during his set, he and the Fool’s Gold Radio mascot got to the front of the stage and directed the half of the crowd to say “Fuck” and the other half to say “You”… only Dillon Francis. No shame, all game. Protocol Recordings chief Nicky Romero delivered a set that had the crowd going from end to end. Playing his own hits such as “Toulouse”, “Generation 303”, as well as collaborations “Wild One Two” and “Sparks”, and the banging, “WTF” and mashups that included Deniz Koyu’s “Bong” and Eric Prydz’s remix of Depeche Mode “Personal Jesus”. Un-phased by the festival crowd, Nicky took the chance to push the forthcoming releases of his label, Protocol Recordings, such as Michael Weermets’ “Bounce”. With Nicky Romero’s set, it was clear that the day’s top talent had arrived.
Fellow dutchman Hardwell would take the Main Stage next and from there the ElectroJams team would at once be struck with an uncontrollable sense of groove and move, to that of awe. After witnessing Hardwell’s LAVO premier back in July, Jake knew that this set would not be one to miss. Hardwell would not miss a beat, seamless mixing in his own stellar productions such as “Spaceman” and collaborations such as “Zero 76”, “How We Do” and standout hits such as Avicii’s “Silhouettes”, Porter Robinson’s “Language”, Knife Party’s “Sleaze” (which would definitely be one of the weekend’s most played tracks), and many more. The crowd would love every second of it as well, shuffling non-stop, chanting along (“until they kick us out… x1,000”). and even a few would be lucky enough to get a Hardwell fitted hat. At multiple points during the set, Jake turned off this camera and was in awe. Watching Hardwell flawlessly command the crowd, mix, and just have everyone move was a sit to be seen. If you ever have a chance to catch a Hardwell set, it is a must see. Hardwell’s track choice and mixing skills are among the world’s élite.
After Hardwell’s set, the ElectroJams team would begin to float around much more, wanting to catch a variety of acts. First moving back over to Group Therapy where Ferry Corsten would be going “Full On Ferry”, it would seem that trance heads don’t care at all about the allegations surrounding his relationship with DJMag. Happy big beats, trance vibes, we didn’t care either, for what we caught of Ferry, it was highly enjoyable. But after witnessing Tommy Trash’s set earlier this summer at Laidback Luke’s “Super You & Me”, the team knew that it could not be mixed. Unfortunately, do to the set up at the Fool’s Gold tent, the limited sight lines and the temperature would rise to over 90 degrees in there. Again though the team would float through Group Therapy where Anjunabeats star Mat Zo brought his distinct blend of progressive house and trance, before heading back to the Main Stage for Laidback Luke and Polina. Now usually, live vocals hurt the performance, but surprisingly Polina’s singing and on stage energy would actually serve to turn it up a notch. Sultry dance moves and more, Polina complimented Laidback Luke’s jump up set that had the crowd turnt up!
At this point, it would become a game of decisions. With headlining acts on all four stages worthy of the price of admission, it would become shuffle-city. Deciding to start at Sunday School and working our way to the Main Stage would prove to be a good plan of attack, catching a good part of sets from Luciano, A-Trak, and of course Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy closer. Although A&B remains one of Jake’s personal favorites, knowing that they’d be closing out Saturday on the Main Stage, the team would make the executive decision to head to David Guetta’s set.
While the uninitiated and the haters might poo-poo this, the set that Guetta put on was stellar. With his recent pop-inclination, Jake went to the set with some apprehension, but with Shannon’s excitement and sureness the team would soldier on and would be grooving along with everyone else. Even though he gets a lot of heat for how he performs (aka “pressing play”) he still is a great artist. I have nothing against him or other big artists who get heat for their methods of performing. It is about the music, anyways, right? Lots of the huge artists today, (like Skrillex and Solveig,) in electronic music have the skills to be able to attract audiences of all areas (like Jake’s mom), regardless of how they DJ. Plain and simple, they know how to make good music. ElectroJams admires that.
Closing out the night with his unique visual illuminations and glitchy, electro, funky beats was Colorado producer, Pretty Lights. For many fans , Pretty Lights represents their first electronic experience. With a sound that blends hip-hop beats, glitched-out bleeps, and a funky feeling, Pretty Lights has become a master. Having toured the world on the strength of his FREE music, Derek Vincent Smith, the man behind the name, has featured in documentaries, started a very successful music label, and more. Closing out the first night provided a wonderful opportunities for fans to revel in his “pretty lights” Playing such hits as “Finally Moving”, “I Can See It In Your Face” and “I Know The Truth”, Pretty Lights’ set had everyone moving and grooving. From the fans in the stands, to the security in front of the stage, the media in the photo pit, everyone was feeling the funk.
Overall, Friday was less crowded than the other two days, but the first day was visibly passionate and energetic than on Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps it was because there was more space to dance and rock out? Maybe it was the anticipation of the whole festival actually starting. Everyone was so into the festival and all of the outfits were so creative. Yoshi on a stick, an inflatable pink flamingo, numerous people dressed as animals (it is a zoo after all), and flags from all over the world. And it was only the first day.
Photo Credit – Jake Lang & Shannon Horowitz