Nail in the coffin? Electric Zoo 2023 places heavy emphasis on the word “Zoo”
Electric Zoo was far from electric – but “zoo” would be an understatement after the chaotic strain of occurrences over the weekend. Major problems arose on day one of the annual event at Randall’s Island in New York City, and they kept snowballing like Christmas came early. Event organizers clearly struggled from the start, well before the festival’s weekend slot, and every single crack broke throughout the duration of the three-day festival. “Fyre fest 2.0,” one X user even remarked online.
Day one never even made it to full fruition – it was canceled due to the main stage not being ready. Electric Zoo released a statement on their social media stating that they were a victim of global supply chain issues and promised refunds for ticketholders. However, further investigation has presented a much different story.
Post-festival, it was revealed that Electric Zoo actually had permit issues preventing the festival from getting underway. Sources also revealed that vendors from previous years remained unpaid – creating staffing issues and headaches. Safety issues with the main stage also brought things to a halt, Billboard reported, and city officials specifically demanded certain things were to be fixed before the festival was given the green light.
Day two commenced, but unfortunately, the major issues continued. The gates were delayed two hours (and it was reported that the delay was actually three hours) with minimal explanation as to why via social media. In a long-worded post, the sentence stating that doors were opening late was almost hard to find – it was hidden amongst gaslighting paragraphs that promised attendees a memorable and amazing experience to make up for the cancellation of day one. This is where things got worse – and safety issues began to really take center stage.
Pre-festival, Electric Zoo promised to ship wristbands out to attendees. However, many attendees did not receive their wristbands and were instead instructed to pick up their bands at will call. If you thought that the building of the main stage and the failure to secure proper permits and safety clearance was a disorganized mess, it did not hold a candle to the organization of will call. This was one of the biggest catastrophes of the event.
Fans waited for over 3 hours to pick up wristbands in unshaded areas with no access to water or seating. Some never made it in to experience day two. There were so many lines that attendees did not know where to go – no one bothered directing or assisting, and there seemingly was no signage. It was reported that there were only three booths open to accommodate the hundreds of people waiting in line. Fans became agitated and upset – and many chose to jump the fence instead of waiting in line.
With Sunday came the grim finale. Once again, will call lines continued to cause exasperation and frustration. But the real day three “nail in the coffin” was a tweet, which came a little over four hours after doors, letting attendees know that the festival was at capacity and no one else would be allowed in. Once again – the festival organizers posted a longly worded tweet in an attempt to soften the blow. But at this point, attendees were fed up with the chaos and disorganization.
A little over an hour later, a video was posted to social media depicting hundreds of people rushing the gates to get in. Cops stationed near the entrance seemed unbothered – in fact, they even moved aside for fans to make a mad dash into the grounds. The situation at the festival had now become dangerous – thousands of people had now entered the festival grounds without going through security. The festival was also now well over capacity, creating a very real potential of crowd crush.
Luckily, no injuries or deaths were reported at Electric Zoo. However, the poorly put-together event still had major woes looming. On Tuesday, September 5, two days after the conclusion of the festival, the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, announced that he would be looking into and taking action against Electric Zoo. The festival was allotted a 42,500-person capacity for the event – and it was revealed they oversold tickets by 7,000 on Sunday.
In the aftermath, Electric Zoo has promised refunds for those attending Friday and Sunday. The fest has also promised to cooperate with the mayor’s inquiry. Electric Zoo’s organizers are also the owners of the new, trendy venue in East Williamsburg; the Avant Gardener. Despite their poor attempts to make amends after a weekend of mistakes and pandemonium, this may very well be an embarrassing sendoff to the festival graveyard.
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