Electric Zoo, the annual electronic music blockbuster celebrating its 10th anniversary this weekend, reinvents itself every year from a presentational standpoint, with new stages and festival-wide artistic concepts. But like many dance music festivals, behind the decks it can occasionally feel repetitive.
Whether it’s the sheer number of bookings necessary to fill the bill (the fest has five stages going on each of its three days) or the dance music pipeline being too controlled by nightclubs prioritizing proven headliners who can sell five-figure bottles of alcohol, it can feel like new superstars are rarely made in the genre.
There are plenty of names that show up repeatedly on lineups across the years; both Armin van Buuren and Above & Beyond have performed here six out of the 10 years. This year, four of the top six names on the bill have a combined 14 bookings (though Kaskade and Alesso each had a performance washed out by storms in 2014).
But 2018 will feature a rarity: Two of those “top six” main stage performers will be rookies to the Zoo. Marshmello and Martin Garrix need no introduction to mainstream crowds, but they will be first-timers at the Randall’s Island event.
Here’s a look at five of the highest-billing newcomers to the Zoo stage, including what fans should expect.
Biggest Hit: “Silence”
Nominated for Top Dance/ Electronic Artist of 2018 by Billboard, Marshmello has the 27th most monthly listeners in the world on Spotify. His radio-friendly EDM isn’t complicated, necessarily, but it’s a sugar rush that has attracted collaborations with Selena Gomez, Khalid, and Juicy J, among others.
What to Expect: Likely one of the younger crowds of the festival, and old-school (or maybe just old?) listeners in the back, griping about “gimmick DJs.” (Friday)
Biggest Hit: “Light”
The Dutch producer has six extended play efforts to his name since 2013, in a genre that prioritizes the single over any sort of collection. This year alone, Holo has played Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival and Tomorrowland.
What to Expect: Plenty of material from his forthcoming debut album, and remixes of old-school favorites (his “Don’t Touch the Classics” series included reworkings of Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode” and Blur’s “Song 2”). (Friday)
Biggest Hit: “Animals”
The Dutch hitmaker was profiled in 2017’s documentary “What We Started,” where he was shown as an avatar for the new wave of dance music superstars. Somehow, the creator of the two times-platinum “Animals,” released in 2013, is just 22 years old.
What to Expect: A potential star guest appearance? Garrix has been in demand, working with Bebe Rexha, Dua Lipa, and Zoo veteran David Guetta. (Saturday)
Biggest Hit: “Are You With Me”
This Belgian producer’s biggest hit was also the song that launched him as an artist; his take on country artist Easton Corbin’s “Are You With Me” hit No. 1 in several countries and was inescapable after its release.
What to Expect: A comparatively melody-friendly set, and, if his Tomorrowland performance is any indication, a “What is Love” singalong? (Sunday)
Bonnie X Clyde
Biggest Hit: “Bass Jam”
The duo only played their first festival in 2016 and are now already on the main stage — but if the weather doesn’t cooperate, there’s a chance they’ll just show up at your house party, as they did when a subtropical storm doused the last day of Tampa, Florida’s Sunset Music Festival this year.
What to Expect: Hardstyle drops, trap hi-hat rolls and, perhaps, live vocals from the “Bonnie” half of the equation, Paige Lopynski. (Saturday)
Electric Zoo takes place Friday through Sunday at Randall’s Island Park, electriczoo.com, day passes from $89.99.