Electronic dance music is a multi-billion dollar industry that's taken over festival grounds across the world. At multi-stage events throughout the year, pounding beats are methodically synchronized with blistering lasers and fireworks that split the sky in neon hues. From fairytale-themed stages to sci-fi spectacles with 3D visuals, festival productions have been replicating the cinematic experience of Hollywood blockbusters for tens of thousands of fans. This year, we went behind-the-scenes at Electric Zoo, one of the biggest festivals on the east coast, for an exclusive peek at the people and the technology that bring dance music to life.
For its seventh installment this year, SFX Entertainment brought in the creative capabilities of one of its subsidiaries, ID&T, a Dutch company that's largely responsible for the explosion of the dance music scene in recent years. Having designed Tomorrowland (a festival that turns Belgium into the largest dance music arena with over 180,000 attendees) and Mysteryland (a 22-year old festival that continues to lead the way), the organizers came armed with expertise to infuse the festival with architecture and design.
Despite a more contained Electric Zoo, with a tighter lineup and intentionally smaller side stages, this year's festival delivered a gigantic bird-like mainstage and a multi-sensory experience that's now de rigueur at dance music events. The experience was systematically achieved through months of planning and production. Conceptual designs were carefully translated into engineered structures. Hundreds of miles of cables created a web of technology that powered the experience. Per usual, they brought out the force for their headliners, including The Chemical Brothers, Above & Beyond and Alesso. It was an all-out attack on the senses. But the fleet came prepared. Throngs of young, delirious faces contorted their bodies and stomped their feet to the music. Their expressions revealed a constant shift between celebration and contemplation -– feelings that are synonymous with dance music culture.