The sun was just beginning to set as we arrived at Echo Beach for Brrrrr! Winter Music Festival Toronto. Upon entering the grounds of Ontario Place, we could hear the distant beats, getting louder with each step we took. At this event, the people with the most clothes on were the coolest, and certainly the smartest ones – in -15C weather, the more bundled up you were, the more fun you were going to have. Guided by the distant beats, we walked along the path towards the stages, unable to keep from bobbing to the music.
After all the hype we were excited to see the set-up of Brrrrr! and were certainly glad to see vendor after vendor of warm delicious food – pizza, sausages, steak sandwiches burritos and more, along with hot beverages and alcohol – we knew we’d be okay. Outhouses were lined up neatly on either side of the main stage, keeping lineups isolated and out of sight. There was a huge fire pit set up between the Red Bull Tour Bus Stage and the Main Stage, just outside of the heated Bacardi tent. Yes, a large heated tent where partiers could seek refuge with warm air blowing in and couches and coffee tables to rest on.
The initial tone of the festival was set by Toronto’s own Jeff Button on the Red Bull Tour Bus Stage, where he kicked off the first hour of Brrrrr! with a unique set full of rich tech-house sounds. On the mainstage was the winner of the DJ competition, a student from McMaster University, DJ Amando “Juice” Jose. With 1,614 votes for his popular Juice “Kool-Aid” Mix, Jose definitely proved himself worthy of opening the festival with his beat-heavy set. The crowd was…well, the crowd was still forming. We didn’t expect it to be a packed house from the beginning so went with the flow and let the night unfold.
Next up on the decks were Nitin on the Red Bull Tour Bus Stage and Jokers of the Scene on the Main Stage. The crowds grew exponentially from that moment on, as people were securing their spots and figuring out how they were going to stay warm throughout the night. When it was time, Deniz Kurtel and Moguai took their turns on the respective stages. As a classically trained musician, Kurtel wowed the crowd with a set full of her beautiful style of house music presented in an avant-garde way – it was as if we were all dancing to experimental art, and that was quite alright. Mainly producing rich progressive-house, Moguai’s set had harder and faster beats. He hypnotized the crowd with tracks from his newest album Mpire and current well-chosen electro house songs. Even after the sun had set, and the sand beneath our feet became colder, Moguai had his audience moving hard with his energetic set.
At 8:00PM, Miss Kittin hit the Red Bull Tour Bus Stage and Mord Fustang took over the Main Stage. The dedicated ravers were pumped to hear Miss Kittin as this was the busiest the Red Bull Stage had been all night. As she immersed her fans in tech house, she showed her real skills when she pulled out her mic and began singing various one- line lyrics. She began to manipulate the voice recording on spot adding reverb, echo and even manipulating the depth. What once started as simple vocals soon transformed into a second beat for the crowd to follow, creating complexity and depth into already solid tech tracks and also gave us something the chant along with her. Back on the main stage, sporting his signature sunglasses at night, Mord Fustang hit the decks hard and stepped it up with his electro house mix. As a new and young DJ, he catered to the younger generation of ravers at the festival with an adventurous mash-up of sounds. It was refreshing to rage hard to a DJ that was fluent in electro, house and even dubstep. Mord Fustang burst into the EDM scene, and with dynamic sets like this, it’s clear that his popularity will only continue to climb.
Finally, it was time for the headlining DJs to perform. It was freezing cold, but we all stuck through it to dance to our favourite artists. Osunlade took the Red Bull Tour Bus Stage and the iconic Moby hit the decks on the Main Stage. Osunlade has been creating music all his life, and it definitely showed during his performance. This DJ escaped the corporate side of the music business to embark on a musical journey purely consisting of spirit and nature, which translates into deep house with African sounds and tech house influences. The audience swayed to the sound that maintained a chill, summer vibe that was light and uplifting, we caught him swaying back and forth with us too.
Meanwhile, at the booming Main Stage, Moby gave the festival a lively performance full of energy and interaction. Not only does he spin tracks from his newest album Destroyed, but he knowledgeably drops popular electro house tracks that he knows are guaranteed to keep his crowd moving. He got all the party-goers pumped up by jumping around enthusiastically and coming to the very edge of the stage where, at the end of his set, he threw off his shirt and jumped up and down topless…in below freezing weather. That. Was. Epic. The crowd went wild as Moby, likely charged with adrenaline, showed Toronto what he is made of.
At the end of Day 1 festival-goers were sniffing out the after-party scene and making arrangements to continue their night while our team said our goodbyes and went on our way.
As Day 2 quickly approached, the EDM TOR team set up shop backstage to interview some of your favourite artists. Included on the Day 2 line-up were Toronto’s own DJ Addy along with Dzeko & Torres, Justin Martin, Mikael Weermets, Chus & Ceballos, dBerrie, Magda, Danny Avila, Deniz Koyu and Dubfire. As predicted, Day 2 was just as cold but definitely busier than Day 1 as house and techno fans got their fix, in the cold, with their favourite DJs. Watch out for our interviews, being posted throughout the month of February to see what the artists themselves thought of the Brrrrr! festival.
What touched us the most about this experience was the willingness and excitement of the Toronto crowd. Yes it was cold. Yes the Bacardi tent wasn’t that warm, yes it could have been busier…BUT, everywhere you turned there was a smiling face, a jumping body, a photo being taken and a memory being made. We Torontonian’s truly embraced mother nature and the beauty of our winter with Brrrrr! Winter Music Festival.
Read the review of the Footwork Nightclub afterparty with Dubfire and Magda HERE.
Watch the RECAP video here:
Alix Nikulka and Sanj Takhar – EDM TOR