Friday March 1st saw the Toronto debut of Belfast born Producer and DJ Greg Downey at Toika Lounge. Tickets were being sold for a very reasonable price of $15, a nice surprise compared to some events which start at a minimum of $20 and run upwards of $60. I arrived at Toika early like a total newbie at 11pm. My first time there and I was literally the first person to arrive. I must admit I had no idea what to expect of my night, although I heard nothing but good things about Toika and the events that are brought there. A warm welcome from Oz (from Ozmosis Productions) and the staff inside the lounge put me at ease and helped with getting situated inside the club.
I walked inside to Mr. Morton (also known as Kris Morton), who happens to be the resident DJ, opening the night up with super chill beats creating an amazing atmosphere from the get go. Within half an hour there was a steady flow of people coming in taking their places at the bar and on the cozy dance floor. Based on observations, almost everyone seemed to know each other and there was nothing but smiles coming in. The tone was set for the night very early on and I knew this was going to be a night not soon to be forgotten. Mr. Morton created such high energy with his talents on the decks, it was impossible to not start dancing really early into the night. It was very obvious too see why Kris has built a good name for himself in this city as a DJ. At some points he was moving harder to his own track selections than some of us on the floor; true passion for his work was very prevalent.
One of the things that I loved about the size and atmosphere of Toika was that it created a certain level of intimacy not seen in many clubs that would normally hold an EDM event here in Toronto. Upon his arrival, Greg Downey took the time to interact on the floor with a few fans, taking pictures and showing an incredible level of modesty making the experience of the night that much more unique. For anyone who knows Greg Downey, they know his music is not very mainstream, and he tends to keep a fairly low-key profile. This was his first event ever in Toronto, and a huge thank you to Ozmosis Productions for bringing him to us. As a big fan of Trance, I was beyond excited to see Downey live and for an extended set at that. I have to say I was expecting a much bigger crowd, albeit every single person that was there helped to create an incredible vibe and energetic atmosphere; there should have been at least twice as many people in my opinion though.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with him, Greg Downey is an extremely talented Producer/DJ born in Belfast, Ireland. He has graced the decks in almost every continent and is no amateur when it comes to DJing. Releasing tracks as early as 2005, his major break came in 2007 after he impressed a promoter of Gatecrasher while playing at an after party in Ibiza. Very shortly after, Greg broke through the UK Trance scene playing at major shows like Gatecrasher. Signed under Spinnin/Reset Records he combines underground and uplifting trance with elements of techno, that make him unique to most producers in the Trance scene. He is supported regularly by the likes of Paul van Dyk, Armin van Buuren, Tiesto, Simon Patterson, Ferry Corsten and many more.
Greg started the night off with some progressive and tech house tracks that had the small but highly energetic crowd dancing hard right off the bat. He eased everyone into the set with a few slower, more upbeat tracks which included John O’ Callaghan’s newest track Breathe featuring Jes. After I could actually regain my composure from losing myself entirely in that amazing new track, he followed it with Armin Van Buuren & W&W’s new collaboration D#Fat which made the crowd go nuts (I may or may not have jumped up and down like a maniac to that one). The beats per minute quickly increased not too long after those tracks to set the bar for the rest of the show. Spinning at what felt like no less than 136bpm, Downey proved why he’s amazing at what he does. At times the beats were so fast and dirty, I wasn’t sure if my feet would be able to move to the music quick enough (I prevailed successfully though). We heard a few of John O’ Callaghan’s tracks and remixes, including another recent release Boban and the epic Stress Test version remixed by John Askew. Dipping into some Psytrance as well, Northern Lights by Simon Patterson confirmed that Downey was just dropping bomb after bomb, leaving everyone trying to keep up and sweatier than words can describe. For anyone paying attention, there were also five new tracks from Greg Downey’s new label Global Code that were debuted for our blessed ears to hear first. His newest release and collaboration with Sean Tyas Dark before the Dawn was played and sounded incredible live. I knew the end of the set was quickly approaching when he slowed down the beats again to play the John O’ Callaghan remix of I Don’t Deserve You by Paul van Dyk featuring Plumb and finishing off with an ID Bootleg of Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap. I couldn’t believe how fast those three hours flew by; I easily could have listened to three hours more. Greg ended the night on an even more positive note by taking the time to stick around and shake hands with every single person, it was clear that he made a lasting, unforgettable impression on us all. A partial tracklist is available below.
It is needless to say, I was absolutely blown away by the entire night from start to finish. An extended three hour set ending at 4am was enough to leave me satisfied beyond words with what we all witnessed at Toika. I’m sure after hearing from everyone who was there just how mind blowing the entire night was, Trance fans will make sure not to miss out on another show like this again. A big thank you to again to Ozmosis Productions and Toika Lounge for making this happen and here’s hoping that Greg Downey will be back very soon with an even bigger crowd to play in front of.
Dark before the Dawn – Greg Downey & Sean Tyas
Mood Swing – John Askew
Breathe – John O’ Callaghan ft. Jes
D#Fat – Armin Van Buuren & W&W
Heaven Sent (Greg Downey remix) – Bedrock
Sunday (Paul van Dyk remix) – Hurt
Boban – John O’ Callaghan
City of Angels – Elevation vs. Grube & Hovespian
Northern Lights – Simon Patterson
Send the Gods – Greg Downey
Bastard – John Askew
Falcons (John O’ Callaghan remix) – Solarstone & Giuseppe Ottaviani
Left Behind (Will Atkinson remix) – Ozzy XPM
Stress Test (John Askew remix) – John O’Callaghan
In the Silence (Txitxaroo remix) – Randy Katana
I Don’t Deserve you (John O’ Callaghan remix) – Paul van Dyk ft. Plumb
Tears of Hope (Greg Downey remix) – Deems
Sweet Disposition (ID Bootleg) – Temper Trap
Monika Sobota – EDM TOR