If you weren’t spending Family Day with your “family” at home, you were probably spending it with your actual family – your rave family – at the Guvernment Entertainment Complex. After an absolutely heavy lineup in 2012 – Benny Benassi, Gareth Emery, and Swanky Tunes – INK Entertainment, yet again, produced a quality lineup we have all come to expect from the industry giants.
Headliners Eric Prydz and Sander Van Doorn generated huge buzz prior to the show and it was certainly evident with the number of people attending. Rightfully so, there’s a number of reasons for the complex to have filled up to the brim that night (and then some). The most evident being that this was the legendary Eric Prydz’s first performance at Guvernment in over five years! After overcoming his fear of flying, Prydz made an appearance at IDentity Festival last summer with a smashing set in Toronto that left us craving more. You can’t discount fans of Sander Van Doorn either, who literally hoarded the main room, awaiting his upbeat style of music. Even more special was the fact that he was listed to play a three hour set that would have partiers on their feet into the wee hours of the morning. Joining the two big names was the up and coming DJ/producer duo Stafford Brothers who marked their debut in Toronto with a high energy set. As if this wasn’t worth the $50 price tag already, Chroma and Acid Lounge had a delicacy of local talent ready to deliver a banging night. For those who wanted to take a breather from the over-packed main room or simply switch up the flavour, Manzone & Strong, Ovi M, Joee Cons, Greg Gow, and, crowd favourite, Deko-ze were added to the bill for their staple techno, house, and tech-house sets.
Prydz was scheduled to play a two hour set beginning at midnight; naturally, the main room was filling up quickly by the time I arrived at 11:45pm. As I made my way through coat check and secured a spot at the front-left of the stage, the Stafford Brothers were finishing up what sounded like a heavy electro-house set. I was pleasantly greeted at the front of the room with a deep, rolling bass line mixed in with an eerie Welcome to My House vocal sample. This track has become a recognizable mark of Prydz’ set intro as it sets the pace and tone for the rest of the night. After launching his “Pryda” album last year, Eric’s set dynamics shifted in a more positive and uplifting way. This made me concerned that I would hear a similarly fashioned set on Family Day, especially considering he was scheduled to play at an earlier time. Everyone around me, and myself included, was extremely pleased to hear a deep set that progressed with each passing track. With the exception of a few tracks he has supported in his Epic Radio Show, Eric only dropped his own originals and remixes, which I find commendable.
While I was slightly disappointed by the fact that there was not a recognizable increase in production, such as lighting effects or LCD screens, Eric’s music definitely made up for it. Some tracks like Rotonda, Spooks, Meridian (Pryda Remix), Deadmau5’s Teaser remix, and Clapham had the crowd rocking and grooving from side to side. Though it really put a smile on my face to see groups of people jumping and fist-pumping to Reeperbahn, Power Drive, his remix of Faithless’ Not Going Home, and, my favourite, Personal Jesus. In case you were wondering, yes he did play Every Day as well as Allein to close out his set and you can imagine the reception received from the 5000-plus crammed into the main room.
At this point the energy in the crowd had absolutely erupted; you could feel the love and appreciation for Eric Prydz’ warm up set as well as the excitement for Sander Van Doorn to close out the night. It was apparent with the crowd reaction and the huge smile plastered on his face that he enjoys doing what he loves for a city that reciprocates the feeling. I was heading into the night with low expectations for the Dutch producer, mainly because I’m not a fan of his recent propensity to play progressive-house bangers, but I was biting my tongue early in the set. The most impressive was his delivery of tracks; Sander had complete control of the crowd at all times. His mashup of Koko with the Sweet Dreams vocals is a perfect example of how he was able to take a crowd favourite and add a little spice to it to give it that memorable finish. Of course he played high energy bangers like his own edit to Shhhh! by Inpetto, Cedric Gervais’ Summertime Sadness remix, Drop Off by Artento Divini, and Grid by Bassjackers. There was something really unique about his style, though. Within his mix, intertwined between all the progressive house build ups and drops, was a blend of smooth piano breaks, infectious bass lines, and echoed hooks that might seem perfect for a night in Ibiza. Thomas Gold’s remix to Reach Out, the club mix of Hurricane by Daddy’s Groove, Hale Bopp by Dr. Kucho, and Alter Ego’s Rocker (Prok & Fitch vs My Digital Enemy Remix) were all songs that stood out when they were played just because of the timing of SVD’s delivery. It was certainly a pleasure to have my perspective on a DJ changed in one night and I look forward to experiencing it again.
Family Day at Guvernment was my final show in Canada for the next year as my job requires me to travel to the Far East. Reminiscing on this night, I realized that I would have not wanted it to end any other way. I experienced one of my idols in the electronic music industry, Eric Prydz, who has in some ways grounded his style and evolved it in other ways. As for Sander, it was humbling yet exciting to watch him in his new-found element. Judging by crowd reactions it was obvious that the entire room felt the same way about both DJs.
A big THANK YOU to the Toronto EDM family for making it an unforgettable experience.
Until next year!
Sander van Doorn
Mohammed Sami – EDM TOR