The night started at 10pm with Gatecrasher’s resident DJ, Kris Shaw, on decks in the main room. Shaw has been with Gatecrasher in the UK for the past 18 months and has developed a sound that certainly gets a rise out of his audience. As eager partiers entered the massive venue, most were hanging by the bar grabbing a drink and warming up to Shaw’s opening set. With a mix of uplifting and vocal trance tracks, people were mixing, mingling, taking photos and getting ready for the night that was going to sweep them off their feet. To the right of the stage, a media section was reserved where a live broadcast would start at midnight with AfterHours FM and 100.7 CHIN FM.
Meanwhile, Aleksander Stevic, a native of Kitchener, Ontario, got things started in Sound Academy’s side room. At 10 pm, the young Serbian opened up for the Mystery DJ (playing a 1 hour intimate set) with a combination of deep house, tech house, techno, and some progressive sounds. His set was deep and dark, setting the tone of the room for the entire night. Armed with his controller and Traktor Pro, Stevic brought an unexpected level of maturity within his music. A surprisingly large number of people had left the mainroom sounds of Kris Shaw to check out the curiously slow, pounding basslines echoing through the Sound Academy. As he grows in the industry, look for Stevic to become a mainstay in the Toronto scene; his sounds are definitely fitting.
At 11 pm, the mainroom turned its attention to First State. The duo, consisting of Shane Halcon and Sander van Dien, are known for incorporating trance vocals with progressive and electro-house styled productions. Their originals have garnered much attention, but they are most well known for their “bashups”. This night, Shane Halcon and his trademark mohawk represented the pairing, playing a strictly house set before the Gatecrasher crowd was exposed to 6 straight hours of trance. We had no problem with this choice, as we found Shane’s set to be mainstream enough for everyone to sing along to, yet energetic enough to lift the crowd off its feet. Opening with their bashup of Delayers & Gregori Klosman‘s Everything Moves and John Dahlback & Dirty South‘s Embrace Me, Shane moved into Canada’s newest entry on the DJ MAG Top 100 list with Project 46‘s You & I. Overall, the set was an offering of progressive house designed with the radio crowd in mind.
After First State, it was time for the dynamic duo Tenishia, who kicked off their set with a cinematic trance opening that really caught the crowd’s attention. They then moved on to Always Loved, Never Forgotten, a stunning track from their latest album, “Memory Of A Dream”. Their track selection included many powerful vocal tracks. We really enjoyed the Skytech remix of Hearts Connected, and the sweet surprise mashup between Orjan Nilsen’s hard-hitting Endymion and the tyDi classic, Vanilla. Things really heated up when Tenishia unleashed the illegal drum edit of Brute. This monster track from Armin Van Buuren and Ferry Corsten was exactly what was needed to kick the night into overdrive. Just in case the crowd wasn’t thrashed enough, Exponential by Andrew Rayel served as a perfect late set banger. From beginning to end, Tenishia was on fire, bringing the Armada sound to Toronto. They kept the intensity up throughout their set, which was more than enough to please all the room.
Following Tenishia was none other than Richard Mowatt, better known as Solarstone. Originally a duo of Andy Bury and Rich, Solarstone has been releasing hit tracks since the mid 90s. He played nothing but pure trance from beginning to end with most of the tracks being either Solarstone originals, or remixes. The crowd responded especially well to the his remix of Lemon’s We Can’t Fly, a gorgeous vocal track as well, as I Don’t Deserve You, in the Giuseppe Ottaviani remix. A nice treat towards the end of the set was his remix of Jump the Next Train by Young Parisians, one of Solarstone’s aliases. This remix gave the classic a modern feel that had many people going nuts. Rich ended his magnificent set with the Solarstone Atlantis mix of the trance anthem Seven Cities, one of the most popular trance tunes of all time. Hands in the air, the crowd experienced the otherworldly sounds of this legend one last time. A pure work of art, Solarstone’s set was so emotional that it had several people tearing by the end.
Meanwhile, back in the side room, Toronto-based DJ Mr. Morton took the decks after a surprise appearance by First State. If there’s one thing Morton is good at, it’s feeling the vibe of his crowd and playing music that is perfect for the moment. Being at a Gatecrasher event and playing at the same time as Solarstone, Morton decided to give his fans a different vibe from the pure trance that was happening in the main room. He pretty much slapped us in the face with hard bass lines and heavy hitting tracks that has us pounding the dance floor – a nice alternative for those who were looking to dance just a little harder that night.
That said, the energy in the main room was quite high after Solarstone’s set. You could sense the crowd wanted more. Luckily the highly anticipated Danish music producer and DJ, Daniel Kandi, had finally marked his arrival in Toronto. Taking on the stage and fueling the crowd with his tracks 3 Strikes UR In and Azzure with Boom Jinx, Kandi had people smiling, jumping, holding hands, and air-pianoing all across the dance floor. His remix of Home with Susana marked a moment of unity, as everyone joined in on a synchronized clap. This moment carried on throughout his set as he played Orjan Nilsen’s Between the Rays. Standing on the VIP platform in the back, there was a beautiful view of the crowd – as the song reached its climax, the blue light show flashed directly on a now jumping crowd while the bass was thundering below us—all senses on fire.
Also making his debut in Toronto, the South African producer and DJ Nate Raubenheimer, better known as Protoculture, took on the stage at 4am. Keeping the energy high he threw down his remix of Binary Finary’s 1998 followed by Sun Gone Down with Shannon Hurley. This was a special moment as the environment really captured the essence of the track. There was smoke everywhere; you felt like you were floating in air, up on the clouds—ironically relating back to lyrics “Can’t see, can’t breathe, Till we’re back on solid ground”. Blue and purple lights were flashed in-between the smoke. A hypnotically circular green laser zeroed your attention on the moment which seemed to last forever. Armin van Buuren and Ana Criado’s I’ll Listen, Ferry Corsten and Markus Schulz’s Loops and Tings, and Alex M.O.R.P.H’s remix of Veracocha’s Carte Blanche were also amongst the few tracks that marked memorable moments during Protoculture’s set at Gatecrasher.
In the last hour before twilight, the Gatecrasher crowd was privy to an unscheduled surprise: a back-to-back set from the future of trance, Argentinian wonder boys Tomas Heredia and Chris Schweizer. Both of these 20 year old phenoms have been making waves in the scene: Tomas with his beautifully melodic, uplifting trance and Chris with his hard, grinding electro-trance. With nods from the greatest names in Trance, including the master himself, Armin van Buuren, the duo are poised to make 2013 the year of Argentinian trance. They instilled new life into a fading crowd, opening with Orjan Nilsen’s Filthy Fandango. The crowd exploded with the pounding bassline, and as they quickly moved into Mr. Brightside (Marco V treatment), and the crowd broke out into a sing-along. The crowd was treated tracks including Schweizer’s mashup of The Conquest and Tristan Garner‘s Fuckin Down, his mashup of Omnia and Above & Beyond known as The Fusion Tonight, Schweizer’s remix of Aly & Fila‘s Sand Theme, as well as Armin’s mashup of Tomas’ Montana, Lost, and Tomas’ unreleased remix of the Armin van Buuren classic, Communication. This 1 hour b2b set closed out the event in a powerful fashion, leading many craving much, much more.
With such an epic trance line-up the crowd was left buzzing. For the next few days Twitter feeds and Facebook updates were dominating with praises for the first ever Gatecrasher event in Toronto.
Kudos to TranceNation and all of their partners for creating such a powerful event in Toronto. Do we hear rumblings of another Gatecrasher event in Toronto soon? We sure hope so!
Anjali Handa, Gary Sagoo, Luc Mosley and Atoosa Abn – EDM TOR