Transcendent and cosmic are the words I would use to describe INK Entertainment’s event Contact this past weekend. On Saturday, January 19th, trance fanatics were witness to an event the likes of which are only a whisper in the Toronto rave scene; not very often do we get to see three high-caliber trance artists, with complimentary sounds, share the same stage in one night. Mark Oliver, who is a treat to witness in his own element, was set to play alongside headliners Sean Tyas, Aly & Fila, and Simon Patterson. While there were initial doubts about the choice of room it quickly became apparent that the Koolhaus was an ideal location to accommodate the size of the crowd – a major concern recently amongst the patrons of the Guvernment Entertainment Complex.
I was unfortunate to miss out on Mark Oliver’s opening set but was relieved to have made it into Koolhaus just in time to hear Sean Tyas drop a personal favourite, Eric Prydz’s remix of Personal Jesus. This was my cue that the night would be one for the books. My love for Tyas’ podcasts, Tytanium Sessions, is a large part of the reason I have come to appreciate the variation in his sets, which according to some people was slightly disappointing. For example, the set ranged from big room sounds such as Antillas & Dankann’s remix of Trespass by Andy Moor to bangers like Bryan Kearney’s Luminosity remix of Maximal Crazy and taking it a step further with pounding 140bpm beats like his own collaboration with Bjorn Akesson on Zahi. Many can agree, however, that a highlight of his set was his masterful timing of Gunsmoke by Bjorn Akesson which had everyone absolutely destroying the floor with their dancing. What disappointed me was what seemed like only a handful of people recognizing Tyas’ own classic track, Lift. However, that didn’t stop me or any other fans from taking in the vibes that foreshadowed our journey through trance.
I initially thought I was seeing things when Arnej took the stage to close out the set but multiple tweets filled up my mobile feed confirming this. As quickly as he appeared, Arnej vanished back stage, not before dropping an absolutely crushing mashup of Cosmic Gate’s legendary Fire Wire and KhomHa’s Dark Knight. Fadi of Aly & Fila took the stage with some of the most heart pounding beats I had ever come across in a long time. I was lifted higher and higher throughout the night by the Egyptian DJ/producer. Some recognizable tracks included Aly & Fila’s remix to Solarstone’s Fireisland, as well as original productions like We Control the Sunlight and Perfect Love. Surprisingly there was a lack of sing-along to their Concrete Angel remix. Some sparks of magic did take place during Above & Beyond’s Satellite mix and John O’Callaghan’s remix of I Don’t Deserve You; cue eyes closed, hands up, hugs all around. Fadi transitioned well between uplifting tunes for the romantic souls to dark bangers for the adrenaline junkies. I’m guilty of being part of this latter group as it was tracks like Airport by Photographer and Manuel Le Saux’s remix to Coliseum by Fluctor that had me unable to stand still for even a second.
Light shows and massages abundant, Fila closed out his set with Armin’s Burned With Desire. It was around 3:00am when Simon Patterson took over the decks. As far as I was concerned it was time to get down and dirty. What took place in the next hour and a half, though, rattled me to my core. This is a man who requires a separate review in order to fully grasp the essence of his style. The title of his opening track perfectly describes the feeling one gets listening to it live – Smack! As my first time hearing this track I immediately appreciated the way Patterson deceives the listener with a subtle drop which then leads into a 3 minute build up and with finesse into a second drop which, quite frankly, really was a smack to the face. The entirety of his set left everyone with their hearts racing at 140 beats per minute. Most of it consisted of artists I have really come to respect over the last few years such as Neelix, Coming Soon, Astrix, and of course Mr. Patterson himself. The quality of Psytrance infused with hard trance was magical in its own way. Bass heavy tracks like Vicious Cycle by Astrix and Coming Soon’s Buzz On had the crowd yelling “WOOOW”. Partiers were pulling out their biggest weapons when it came to dance moves and getting downright funky to the noises emanating through the giant Koolhaus speakers. I stress EMANATING because it felt like the speakers had suddenly been revived with a pulsating beat that literally shook through your body and rejuvenated a million little cells in your heart.
My night came to an end early – around 4:15 – as I did not have the strength to carry on further. I did not leave without hearing two of my Simon Patterson favourites, Taxi and Thump. As soon as I was in the safety of my car did I realize how big of a mistake I had made. Immediately I received a text message, “Arnej is playing a B2B set with Simon Patterson”. To those who made it to the end of that set, I applaud you; I know I personally would not have made it through the dark tech vibes such as Complex Data by The Advent & Industrialyzer.
The greatness of this event carried on into the wee hours of the morning when Mark Oliver apparently played multiple tracks produced by up and coming Toronto native Saad Ayub. These included his mashup of Mr. Pit’s Shana and Above & Beyond’s Alchemy, as well as a reconstruction of Markus Schulz’ mashup Sky Fall on Harrier. I caught up with Saad who had some words of wisdom to share for Toronto DJs: be patient, creativity will only become a factor when you have perfected the basics, and polish your ears by listening to lots of music.
Keep safe Toronto. I love this city!
Check out this video by Guvernment’s own @Stilez and follow him on Twitter!
Aly & Fila
Mohammed Sami – EDM TOR