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Electric Zoo
Photograph: Bennett Sell-Kline

The best acts to see at Electric Zoo Festival 2015

The annual music festival returns to Randalls Island for its seventh year, hosting countless DJs over Labor Day weekend

By Vivienne van Vliet and Christopher Tarantino

It's almost Labor Day weekend, which, to many of us dance music fans, means that the wonderful season of outdoor summer music parties and festivals is coming to an end. For all of the die-hard EDM fans out there, there's no better way to cap summer in New York than by spending the weekend on Randalls Island for Electric Zoo Festival. Since it started in 2009, the event has grown exponentially, now spanning three full days and hosting some of the industry's biggest names. The seventh edition also premieres the Zoo's new “Transformed” theme, a concept built in collaboration with ID&T and dedicated to a more immersive festival experience. Check out our 10 acts to see at this year's Electric Zoo Festival—and our list of the best parties the week of, for updates on after-parties.

RECOMMENDED: Complete Electric Zoo guide

Best acts to see at Electric Zoo Festival

The Martinez Brothers
Photograph: Courtesy INFAMOUS PR

1. The Martinez Brothers (Fri 7pm)

Chris and Steve Martinez were raised in the Bronx and fostered into global house music at a very young age, thanks to their father, a former Paradise Garage patron. Even at 23 and 26 years young, respectively, the Givenchy-laced brothers have held a residency at Ibiza institution DC-10 for four years and now travel the globe sans chaperone, deejaying back-to-back alongside techno's biggest names. Named “DJs of the year” and “crown princes of DC-10” by DJ magazine Mixmag last year, the Martinez Brothers always know how to throw down on the decks.

Adam Beyer

2. Adam Beyer (Fri 9pm)

Swedish techno vet Adam Beyer is the head honcho of Drumcode Records, which has released techno tracks from some of the world's most renowned producers—including Alan Fitzpatrick, Harvey McKay, Joel Mull, Joey Beltram, Joseph Capriati, Marco Carola and Victor Calderone—since its inception in 1996. In addition to his role as label daddy, Beyer is known for laying down his steely and hypnotically driving rhythms in DJ sets.

The Chemical Brothers

3. The Chemical Brothers (Fri 9:25pm)

Elder ’90s statesmen Tom Rowlands & Ed Simons just dropped Born in the Echoes, their eighth studio album, and first in five years. It’s filled with all the classic Chems’ hallmarks: bangers (“Just Bang”), pretty psychedelics (“Radiate”) and collabos with their cohorts (St. Vincent, Beck and Q-Tip (who sounds a bit tired and old on “Go”). They set the gold-standard template that basically all live acts use today and still know how to put on a proper audio-visual extravaganza, even though Simons is staying in England this go-round. 

Photograph: © 2015 KOMPAKT

4. Kölsch (Sat 3:50pm)

The deep Dane released his techno-opus 1977 on Michael Mayer’s Kompakt Records in 2013 with hard-edged acid like “Opa” and the more-romantic-but-still-highly-danceable “Der Alte.” He is an anomaly in the world of dance music: an old-school techno producer who spins with underground legends like Ricardo Villalobos and Sven Väth and has also collaborated with overground pop stars like Nicki Minaj and Shakira, making him the perfect Zoo artist, appealing to the lifers and day-glo teens alike.

Henrik Schwarz

5. Henrik Schwarz (live) (Sat 5:20pm)

Ranging from dusky dubs to crackly driving house revisions, Henrik Schwarz makes a mean remix—but don't let it overshadow his original tracks. With side stints fronting an electro jazz trio and working with the Berlin State Ballet, the versatile deep house master combines an eclectic mix of musical sensibilities into distinctively haunting, elegant club tracks. He even released a record of experimental classical arrangements recently. But regardless of what source material or genres he's working with, one thing's sure: Schwarz spins a killer set.

Paco Osuna

6. Paco Osuna (Sat 7pm)

Barcelona techno maven Paco Osuna is a DJ and producer known for a machine-tooled and driving (yet pleasingly wobbly) sound. In addition to managing Mindshake Records, Osuna has been a resident at Ibiza's critically acclaimed ENTER party since 2012, playing alongside techno veteran Richie Hawtin and countless other top-class DJs. Check out his set for some serious electronic music.

Get Real (Green Velvet & Claude VonStroke)

7. Get Real (Green Velvet and Claude VonStroke) (Sat 9pm)

The combination of bearded bear VonStroke and the flamboyant green-tuft of Green Velvet seems odd at first, but the pair's shared Midwestern roots and longtime immersion in the worlds of techno and house make them perfect bedfellows. What started as one-off back-to-back sets has grown into a true collaboration—but only for their “special occasion” sets.

Com Truise
Photograph: Aaron Richter

8. Com Truise (Sun 3:05pm)

Though Com Truise stays pared down for his live sets (an APC Ableton controller, one keyboard and a live drummer), the analog-gear aficionado boasts a vast array of vintage drum machines and synths in the studio. With the elaborate production setup, he's somewhat of a sound sculptor, forming chrome-plated computer compositions that sit at a groovy neon middle-space between ’80s Mac commercial music and electrofunk.


9. Claptone (Sun 5:55pm)

Their superb recent Essential Mix was filled with dubbed out hip-hop and funk samples from the likes of Dr. Dre, Herbie Hancock, James Brown, Wu-Tang Clan, P-Funk All-Stars and even Velvet Underground mashed in with catchy house tracks and their own edits. 

Hot Since 82
Photograph: Courtesy Neighbourhood PR

10. Hot Since 82 (Sun 9:30pm)

Daley Padley’s professional music career started at an after-party in Ibiza in 2010. When the music unexpectedly cut out, he graciously volunteered his phone to take over and when one of his work-in-progress tracks came on, the crowd went nuts. He emailed them to his producer friend Noir, who released them on his label the next year. Since then, his heavy old-school house sound has found favor on remixes for Green Velvet’s “Bigger Than Prince” and on Pete Tong’s Essential Mix.


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