The annual gathering of dubstep junkies, furry neon leg warmers, and many of the world’s greatest electro acts — that animal of a dance party called Electric Zoo — came and went this past weekend on Randalls Island. Headlining the three-day festival were some of the world’s most influential and beloved DJs, including Tiesto, David Guetta, Armin van Buuren, and Chromeo, and watching the more than 75 acts in attendance was an audience in the tens of thousands. Sound overwhelming? We made note of a few of our favorite artists to share with you; while newer to the scene than the superstars, in many cases these guys delivered sets that were even more impressive. From a 19-year-old Swedish kid to everyone’s new favorite dubstep producer, click through for our top five to watch from Electric Zoo 2011.
The Swede knows how to rouse a crowd. Alesso — who’s only 19 — played on the festival’s main stage, and within the first ten minutes of his set (which you can download here), filled the audience and had them jumping up and down, screaming along in unison. Sticking primarily to electro house in both his remixes and original tracks, Alesso knows what his fans expect and gives it to them. But his ability to make them go absolutely nuts seems to stem more from his exuberant on-stage persona; about halfway through his set, he jumped onto and over the DJ booth in order to fling his hands up and dance along with his listeners.
Gramatik (aka Dennis J) didn’t draw as big a crowd as some other performances of its caliber, but those who were there for the morning set clearly came for a good reason. The Slovenian DJ first came to the States while touring with Pretty Lights in 2009, but settled down in Brooklyn this summer, where he’s aggregating a bigger and bigger New York following. His Sunday set (which you can download here) was full of that good old bass-heavy mid-morning dubstep, but his recorded music tends to integrate a funkier downtempo groove.
It’s not easy to get clubbers excited about Fatboy Slim leaving the DJ booth, but Bart managed to do so at the official Electric Zoo afterparty Friday night at Pacha NYC. Summoning back to the dance floor the moshers who had come out to see him play earlier that day (see above), Bart’s house- and techno-, remix-heavy, dub-lite set picked up where Fatboy Slim left off without so much as a stall — some sonic proof of his devotion to the dance floor. Bart first made his break spinning in Holland, but the success of some of his crowdpleasers has since put him on a global radar and helped him launch his own record label.
Also only a teenager, North Carolina native Porter Robinson started producing while he was still in high school before playing alongside Skrillex on several tours and finally joining its label to produce his first EP, Spitfire, out this September. In the meantime, his single, “Say My Name,” made it to #1 on the Beatport charts. His music is house-party heavy, but his set at Electric Zoo incorporated some bassier dub, all brought to you from the homemade production studio also known as his laptop and bedroom.
Originally from the Bay Area, this dubstep producer has been welcomed into the West Coast music scene with open, eager arms and has played next to top talent at a number of recent festivals, including Burning Man and Coachella. It’s hard to tell where exactly a MiMOSA track is going to take you; Tigran Mkhitaryan does some non-traditional things when it comes to syncopation and mixed meter, and at Zoo this year, he mixed up his heavier, grimy bass beats with interjections of top-40 and trance in unusual ways. His new 5-song EP, 58 Degrees, is available for free download on his site. The new stuff is a little different, and a little faster, but still great to bang your head to while being kept on your toes.
Main image: Bart B More