Foundation Fridays at Toika Lounge have quickly become the Toronto trance community’s safe haven for a guaranteed good time. To kick off a stacked #Trancegiving weekend (a term used to describe the insane lineup of all-star trance DJs playing in Toronto over the Thanksgiving weekend), Ozmozis Productions brought Max Graham back in town on October 5th for an extended 4-hour set. The anticipation seen over Facebook and Twitter was enough to get any trance or techno fan riled up and ready to go. We finally got #MaxInTo.
Knowing it was going to be a packed house, we arrived at Toika around 11pm, enough time to catch a good portion of resident DJ Mr. Morton’s opening set. If you are familiar with Foundation Fridays, you know Mr. Morton plays for his audience. He tailors his set to get us in the right mood for what’s to come with the next DJ in line. Starting off with soothing progressive trance, Mr. Morton blew us away with Coca & Villa’s La Noche (Five Elements Remix). When a song can take you back seven years and you feel the same emotion it once sparked in you so long ago, you have nothing but respect and appreciation for the man at the decks. As the night went on, Mr. Morton’s tunes got funkier with techno sounds that got the energy flowing and the people on the dance floor.
It was around this time when Max arrived and was spotted at the bar feeling the Toika vibe while greeting his fans. With a huge smile on his face, Max took his turn on the decks around 12:30am. If you tune in to his weekly show, Cycles Radio, you know that Max likes to take his crowd on a musical journey. The first hour was a total warm up, and to emphasize this point he put his hands in the air and did a nice long stretch – “We’re just warming up!” he told the crowd, to which they responded, bring it on.
By the one-hour mark Toika was packed and the dance floor was buzzing, perfect timing for Max to play Super8 & Tab’s Fiesta, which seemed to be a turning point for the night. The dynamic of the crowd suddenly changed as bouncing and swaying turned into jumping with hands in the air. As the sound became more intense each person in the room absorbed the vibe and got just a little crazier with their moves. Max must have read the crowd right because the moment he dropped Orjan Nilsen’s Magic the place went wild.
With a DJ booth that can comfortably hold one person, Max was left to his own devices, as he so prefers while DJing. What I love about the crowd at Toika is their respect for the DJ – yes, there will be an occasional camera in the face and a few fans trying to shake the DJs hand or request a song, but for the most part, the party people allow the DJ to work his/her magic uninterrupted. It’s hard to tell if a newcomer is feeling the vibe, but when Max tweeted “I love this club” halfway through is set, we knew he was having just as much fun as we were. It was dark, it was intimate, the energy was insane, and Max was able to do what he does best – take us on a journey into sound with smooth and incredible PBJs. (PBJ is an American sandwich consisting of peanut butter and jelly. A fan of Max’s used a PBJ as a metaphor to describe the smooth transition of two totally different sounds, much like the smooth taste of the two totally different flavours of PB and J. It’s a term that has now stuck to identify Max’s smooth musical transitions!)
Over the course of the night we were taken on a rollercoaster ride with chilling progressive, heavy hitting trance, techno and even some touching tracks like Max Graham’s own So Caught Up and Sun In the Winter both with Neev Kennedy. By the time 4am rolled around, we knew the end was coming. At the sound of Tritonal’s Still With Me (Suncatcher Remix) EDM TOR’s own Adele (a hardcore Tritonal fan) was totally raging and tweeting about the song. That’s when Max reached over and took her phone right out of her hand. “No phones, just have fun – just have ten minutes of fun.” he told her – and everyone cheered. That’s a true testament to the passion and soul that goes into the work Max does. He’s not just a guy that plays songs for a crowd, he wants you to experience what he experiences – put Twitter, Facebook, text messages, cameras and Shazam all away – Just. Have. Fun.
With that, Max finished us off with three amazing tunes – Velvetine’s The Great Divide, Markus Schulz’s Love Rain Down featuring Seri, and his very own uplifting remix of Filo & Peri’s This Night featuring Audrey Gallagher. With each song, the lyrics were sung with passion and goosebumps – we could have gone on forever. Unfortunately though, the lights went on at 4:30am and we were faced with the reality that the set was over.
As usual, we all gave our thanks to Oz (from Ozmozis Productions) for bringing such fine talent into the city and those who were left had an opportunity to take photos with Max before Toika closed its doors (and Adele got her phone back!). The next day, photos and praises were shared over Facebook and Twitter. He must have felt the crowd yearning for more because Oz vowed to bring Max Graham back to Toronto soon… you know we’re waiting for it!
Until then, catch Max Graham’s weekly show Cycles Radio every Tuesday 12-2pm EST HERE and find him on Facebook and Twitter (@MaxGraham).
Thank you again to Ozmozis Productions, DJ Mr. Morton and Max Graham for an incredible night!
Anjali Handa – EDM TOR