by levina | November 8, 2011

At 12:58PM on October 25, 2011, I took a break from speeding along with a project at the breakneck pace of approximately 100 words per minute to rapidly refresh the 2012 early bird ticket page for Electric Zoo.

In an incredibly unfortunate turn of events, my backspace was somehow pressed (I don’t want to talk about it), and the first round of tickets sold out during the fifteen seconds it took me to panic and try to get to the right page again. By 1:06PM, the ticket page crashed, and I resigned myself to reliving the magic through the newly-released 2011 recap video (can you find me? hint: look in the Hilltop Arena crowd between 1:17 and 1:20.)

As incredible as the video is, it only barely begins to capture the beauty that is Randall’s Island during Labor Day weekend. For three days this year, during the third annual EZoo, huge headliners and other massive international DJs wreaked havoc across four stages.

In a more intimate setting than Miami’s UMF, 85,000 electronic music fans gathered between the East River, Hell Gate, and Bronx Kill for 36 hours of some of the best sounds, lights, and vibes that the electronic music community has to offer. Surrounded by Kandi ravers, junglists, and cyber ravers, my friends and I made our way through DJ upon DJ until the headliners closed out each night at 11PM, stopping only when we desperately needed to refill our CamelBak.

Though we missed Rusko (arguably the DJ who brought my apartment as well as my guy friends and I together three years ago) by the time we got back into New York, we spent a good amount of our time reminiscing about our first experiences at music festivals together to the beat of familiar DJs: Boys Noize, Guetta, Diplo, Chromeo, Above & Beyond, Fake Blood, Markus Schulz, MSTRKRFT, Moby, Afrojack, Dirty South, Armin van Buuren, ATB, Skrillex, Sub Focus, Bloody Beetroots, and Tiesto frequented our friendship with their music and occasionally made live guest appearances.

Between familiar sets, we sprinted in and out of Red Bull Riverside, Main Stage, Hilltop Arena, and Sunday School Grove to discover some new sounds from 12th Planet, Big Gigantic, Alesso, Porter Robinson, Sander van Doorn, SBTRKT, Michael Woods, and so many others.

If these names by themselves haven’t convinced you to forgo your Labor Day ’12 BBQ plan, here is a breakdown of my favorites from the weekend:

Afrojack – Easily one of the best performances of the weekend. Always high energy with an impeccable feel for the crowd. Perfect transitions and drops, even though I believe he was only on turntables during his performance. As an added bonus, he dropped two new songs during his set. Zoo ’11 favorite.

Skrillex – While I’m typically not one of the many who eat dubstep for breakfast, there is no doubt that Sonny Moore is a talente producer. Hilltop was packed for his set, and hs crippling sounds got the crowd ridiculously rowdy. Best energy.

Alesso – Walking out of Alesso’s set, I wondered if I’d been living under a rock for the past year. I must have actively been avoiding good music because I never managed to listen to any of Alesso’s huge mixes. Discovery of the weekend.

Calvin Harris – I have never loved electropop as much as I did during Calvin Harris’ set on Sunday. Though my muscles were shot by Friday night, I couldn’t even think about resisting the urge to dance during his feel good, uptempo set. Top in dance-pop, hands down.

Diplo, Dirty South, Porter Robinson, Tiesto, Boys Noize, Moby, and Hardwell round out my list with their killer performances from Zoo ’11.

Three words: Get. Your. Tickets.