Just when I thought I was done with festivals for the summer, I got free(ish) tickets to 2 days of Electric Zoo! Which was fantastic because for once I could go to a festival during the day and then take a proper shower and sleep in my comfy bed at night. I love camping festivals, but it’s nice to feel clean, sometimes. Here’s how it all went down:
Seeing as last year’s EZoo had tighter security than an airport, it was really refreshing to be able to walk into the festival this year without having to take off my socks and shoes or having someone run their fingers through my hair. The lines went pretty quickly and even with having to wait in the will-call line first, it never took too much time to get inside.
The EZoo crowd is not my favorite type of EDM fans, but I didn’t encounter any particularly obnoxious people. I would prefer not to see men walking around in tanktops that say, “PARTY WITH SLUTS,” but at least no one bothered me.
Every year the Zoo has animal art, and this year was no different. There was a life-size giraffe that lit up at night, a hippo made out of pink and white pom poms, a stage that was basically a giant black and white octopus, and more. There was also a pretty cool treehouse stage for lesser known artists that had lanterns hanging from the nearby trees which made for a pretty and mellow dancing experience in the downtime between other, “bigger” sets.
I was pretty bummed on Friday because I left for the festival straight from work, and when I was still at the office I realized that I left the top of my water bottle at home, meaning I would have to shell out probably $5 for a bottle of water. Luckily for me (and everyone), though, right when I walked into the festival they were handing out a) free Vitamin Water, b) free bottles of regular water, and c) free empty collapsible water bottles. Plus, there was never a line at the refill stations. I think we all know how strongly I feel about keeping people hydrated at festivals and this was probably one of the best water situations I saw this summer.
EZoo used to be small and it’s gotten even smaller. I love being able to cross the entire surface area of a festival in less than 5 minutes, though I will say that there was one drawback to this. The Hilltop tent – an enclosed stage where almost every act I wanted to see was playing – was pretty small, and at one point I was trying to go inside to see Galantis. The crowd inside the tent was so packed that it spilled through to outside, but because Hilltop was so close to the main stage, if you weren’t within the tent walls you could still only hear the music from the main stage, not what was going on inside. This was the only time I had to miss a set because of the crowding and the sound bleeding from one stage to another, thankfully.
Most people take a shuttle bus or ferry to EZoo, but because my “free” tickets didn’t come with transportation, I walked across the bridge at 125th Street. This is my preferred way of getting to Randall’s Island anyway, since there’s no wait to walk. Even if I had the option of taking the ferry or shuttle I probably would have taken the bridge anyway.
Even though I got my tickets through Jukely (more on that for a future post) and didn’t pay full price, tickets this year were wayyyy cheaper than they have been in past years, I assume as another aspect of the festival’s “Transformation” theme for this year (AKA “we’re sorry the festival has been terrible the last few years, it has new owners now and we’re going to try to make it better”). Last year I paid $160 for a single day pass, which wasn’t even the highest price tier. This year, if you bought a single day ticket online even right before the festival I think it was only around $125.
The real sham of the pricing though is the cashless “EZ Bucks” system, where you load money onto your wristband and then pay for everything with that money. $20 loaded onto your wristband gave you 9 EZ Bucks. The cheapest beer cost 4.5 Bucks, which meant that it was basically 10 “real” dollars for a Coors Light, plus whatever you decided to tip the bartender. After buying 1 beer I realized that I would have to load another $20 onto my wristband in order to buy a 2nd beer, and that sucked. If you have extra money on your wristband at the end of the festival it gets refunded back to you, but they take out a $5 fee first. So you basically have to pay 2 separate fees in order to have the privilege of buying food or drinks.
I HATE CASHLESS FESTIVALS.
Overall, I’m pretty happy that I got to go to EZoo, because I wasn’t originally planning on it and it was a fun last minute addition to my Labor Day weekend. I’m not sure how I would have felt about it if I had paid full price, but at the low low price of next to nothing, it was a great way to close out festival season. Which I think is happening for real, this time. (Don’t leave me, Summer!)