Mismanagement Abounds At Electric Zoo With Cancellation, Cap Limits & Security Breaches

Electric Zoo Festival resumes after canceled on the first day in New York
People attend the Electric Zoo Festival on the second day, after canceling the first day, at Randall’s Island in New York on Sept. 3, 2023. (Photo by Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Update: Sept. 5: New York City Mayor Eric Adams has suggested the city will take action against Electric Zoo’s organizers during an NYPD briefing on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

“It’s unfortunate that the organizers wanted to turn our city into a zoo, and we were not going to allow that to happen,” Adams said. “And we will be dealing with them in the next few days based on their behavior and actions.”

Electric Zoo festival on New York City’s Randall’s Island on Labor Day Weekend suffered cancellations, late starts, a capacity limit closure and a security breach due in large measure to mismanagement and poor planning.

Electric Zoo was purchased by Avant Gardner in June 2022, when the investment group behind the Brooklyn venue purchased New York promoter Made Event for $15 million. This year marked the first time the promotion company put on Electric Zoo in its entirety without the festival’s previous organizers. The festival holds up to 100,000 guests over three days.

While Avant Gardner did not immediately respond to Pollstar‘s request for comment, in a statement not addressing the event’s mismanagement, Electric Zoo’s organizers said, “The vast majority of Electric Zoo attendees had a great experience, but our job is to make sure everyone’s experience is phenomenal. We’ll be working closely with our partners to review the planning and execution of the event from start to finish.”

Day one (Friday, Sept. 2) of Electric Zoo was canceled after the main stage was reportedly not completed in time for the festival’s doors to open. None of the first day’s acts were able to perform the festival, including Excision, Kx5, Galantis, Chris Lake and Fisher, Madeon.

On day two, the festival opened its gates at 3 p.m. ET, two hours past its intended scheduled opening at 1 p.m., preventing the openers from performing. For fans who needed to pick up their wristbands at will call, wait lines were reportedly as long as four hours. During Moore Kismet’s set, the visuals on the Continuum stage glitched repeatedly.

Day three wound up becoming perhaps the most mismanaged of all, with ticket holders turned away at the doors and roads onto Randall’s Island shut down after the festival announced via its official social media channels that it had hit capacity at 6:35 p.m. ET. Fans denied entry were informed via social media that they would be issued a full refund. However, hundreds, if not thousands, of fans were still waiting in line to attend the festival. By 7:54 p.m., hundreds of fans pushed through the festival gates and crashed the event.

By the time the roads to the island were closed off, the majority of the festival’s headlining acts still had not yet arrived onto the island. In order for them to make their sets on time, they needed to enlist police escorts in order to be granted entrance onto the island.

Following Electric Zoo, New York Mayor Eric Adams defended the response of the New York Police Department and said action will be taken against festival organizers, according to CBS New York.

“The NYPD was on the scene. You had thousands of people who were not allowed to enter the location because of over ticket sales, and we handled the influx appropriately,” Adams said.

The mayor added, “It’s unfortunate organizers wanted to turn our city into a zoo, and we were not going to allow that to happen. We will be dealing with them in the next few days based on their behavior and actions.” – Ariel King