Sunday, August 31, 2014
NEW YORK (AP) — The Electric Zoo music festival was shut down in the face of powerful thunderstorms Sunday, forcing thousands of people to leave its island setting and marking its second cancellation in as many years.
As some of electronic music's big names — including Kaskade and Jack U, a collaboration of Grammy Award-winner Skrillex and DJ Diplo — prepared to play the three-day event's final night, organizers and city officials called it off and ordered Randall's Island evacuated around 4:30 p.m., organizers said. The National Weather Service had issued flash-flood warnings as downpours and lightning loomed.
"We apologize to our fans, but ultimately our main concern is for the safety and security of all attendees, artists and staff," spokesman Stefan Friedman said in a statement.
The festival's final day was axed last year after two fans died of overdoses of MDMA, also known as molly or ecstasy, combined with overheating. Organizers tried to set a safer, more security-conscious tone this year, shortening each day by two hours, compelling festival-goers to watch a video about MDMA and adding drug-sniffing dogs, peers watching for people feeling ill, a cooling tunnel and other measures.
This year, the cancellation came about three hours into the last day, with throngs of music-lovers already at the 27-acre venue in the East River. Many had to board ferries or shuttle buses to get off the island.
Organizers said the evacuation was orderly. Police had no immediate information. The fire department hadn't gotten any reports of injuries during the festival or its evacuation.
As fans headed for the exits, some tweeted their frustrations, noting that it was the second year in a row that the show's final night hadn't gone on. And some artists posted their regrets.
"I can't believe this!! I was so looking forward" to playing Sunday night, tweeted the Swedish DJ Alesso, one of the night's headliners.
The Australian duo What So Not, meanwhile, wrote, "Sadly won't be playing NYC today. ... Who wants to hit the bar?"
Earlier Sunday, Friedman said there hadn't been any major problems, with some fans making use of the cooling tent and other safety features.
Police had no immediate information on whether there had been any arrests.
The 5-year-old Electric Zoo has become a popular stop on the circuit for fans of electronic dance music, a growing presence in pop in recent years.
Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @jennpeltz.