In less than three short weeks, Toronto will once again be privileged to host the party of parties, and I don’t mean the World Cup knockout stages. Often fans of electronic music will complain about the quality of bookings or the lack of attention given to the genres they prefer, or about what they perceive as oversight of the best DJs. These people would in fact be slightly distorting the truth as Toronto has quite a substantial and diverse dance music culture. Two years ago another massive chapter in Toronto’s dance music story was opened with the advent of what is now Canada’s largest electronic music festival, Digital Dreams.
As with the previous two years, the scenic shorelines of Ontario Place and The Flats will play host to this monumental party, with Toronto’s beautiful skyline in the background, a lake view, and a sunset to attempt to distract even the most rowdy of partiers from the debauchery in front. However, despite the supreme levels of partying that will undoubtedly be reached, this festival is more than just a party, more than just a fun-filled bash for people to let loose with friends. This festival will be a clinic. A seminar for all that is synths and bass and rhythm and chord progression, a school for the unlearned and learned alike, the subject being Electronic Dance Music.
Perhaps this is the biggest testament to Digital Dreams’ superiority over other festivals of its kind in the region. The people at Live Nation and Balance Inc. clearly did a lot more than look at the Top 100 charts. The diversity of talent booked for this festival is almost unbelievable. There aren’t just main-stagers and headliners, but those are there, and in no small quantity. Five stages (if you break the new “fourth stage” into the separate day themes that it is in) offer an unmatched level of choice to the festival goer. To the dance music enthusiast, it is a wonderland.
House Of Boom
While this writer must admit to being rather out of the loop in the bass genres, by choice I must add, this lineup will be as heart-stopping to bassheads as it is eyecatching to me. Flux Pavilion, Noisia, Andy C and Excision will headline this booming stage across two days, joined by the likes of I am Legion which includes some amazing collaborations between Noisia themselves and UK hip hop group Foreign Beggars. Dirtyphonics, Bro Safari, The Crystal Method and much more will be supporting the headliners, so expect some very tired bassheads come late Sunday Night.
This, one of two new stages, will take place on the second day of the festival, Sunday. Seeking to go deeper on what the famous Echo Beach Stage has been and continues to offer, No. 19 Social Experiment will be a session in deep house and techno. Eric Volta will be returning, having stopped here for Brrrrr! Music Festival this past February. Guy Gerber (a crowd favourite), Green Velvet (a legend and one of the hottest names on the circuits right now), DJ Sneak (a pioneer of house music), and a few others, including our local bass star Hydee, will join outspoken Canadian headliners Art Department. This stage will be one hell of a social experiment.
It could be said that, in previous years, the trance family has been slightly overlooked by Digital Dreams. Well, not this year! Once again, Balance Inc. has answered the call of the people. The second new stage, taking place on the first day, Saturday, will feature an all-trance lineup. Local favourites Saad Ayub and Baranov will open for a delightful assortment of international trance talent. Uplifting, Progressive and Psy; it’s all there as Alex M.O.R.P.H., Andy Moor, Super8 and Tab, Canadian star Arnej, and Fleming and Lawrence deliver the euphoria to Toronto’s hungry trance crowd. Headlining this heavenly stage will be one of the most talked about current producers in Trance, the heavy-hitting Simon Patterson.
Back again this year, and with an even more spectacular lineup than ever before, is the famous Echo Beach Stage. Those with a preference for the more underground and mature side of electronic dance music will find a haven here over the two days as some of the industry’s most talented swoop down on Toronto to deliver the groove. On day one Claude Von Stroke, techno queen Nicole Moudaber, Danny Tenaglia (all household names in their own right), and others will support a massive return to the decks by the illustrious Deep Dish! Day two sees Luciano headlining. He will be joined by a solo effort from Sharam (who we trust will be fully recovered from his exertions with Dubfire the previous day) as well as Victor Calderone, Destructo and ever-rising star Jay Lumen. This sandy slice of groovy awesomeness also includes local star Addy and female star Sydney Blu.
Last, but certainly not least, is the main stage. The biggest names in the industry, and I mean the biggest, will grace this stage. One thing to be noted is that while the big room house genre is the most represented at this stage, naturally… it is by no means the only genre represented. On day one the likes of MAKJ, Dyro, Carnage and Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike will bring the banging festival sound to the hungry masses, joined also by the gorgeous and talented Australian duo Nervo. Closing out the evening will be electro-house magicians Justice, known for their versatility and creativity behind the decks. Day two is when the Dreams Stage really brings the fire. Trance’s biggest names will be in attendance, just in case trancefamily didn’t get their fill at day one’s Fantasy Land stage. Dash Berlin will be back again after last year’s performance and joining him will be veteran Paul Oakenfold. Progressive house superstars Fedde Le Grand and Eric Prydz will help to turn Sunday into an unforgettable dance music experience, and then finally, returning as well as a 2013 alumni, Tiësto will close out the mainstage, and the festival… in epic style.
I think most of Toronto’s rave community, regardless of preference, are in agreement that when the no-drop king unleashes this upon the festival… minds will be lost.
What I am most looking forward to is certainly the trance stage. I’m so impressed with how accommodating the festival organizers have been in upgrading this festival from previous editions. Andy Moor, and Alex M.O.R.P.H. will be a treat. In fact it will be extremely hard to leave this one stage all of Saturday, which with the talent elsewhere, is almost a shot in my own foot. Jay Lumen, Green Velvet, and especially Deep Dish will be must sees on the house and techno end of things. As for main stage, I might not be up there much on Saturday but I hope to catch some of Dash Berlin and Paul Oakenfold to see what sort of sets they each bring this time. It’s a toss-up with Deep Dish, but I think Eric Prydz could easily be the set of the weekend, so I absolutely can not miss his set.
Big Talking Points
RFID Chip Bracelets: Again Digital Dreams goes above and beyond to bring the consumer the best experience possible and break new ground with this cashless chip based bracelet, one of the first of its kind in North America. This alternative system of payment will involve loading credit onto the chip prior to and during the festival at designated spots, using cash, credit or debit. At various vendors electronic devices will then scan the bracelets and deduct the appropriate amount. This is to ensure more efficiency and less wait times.
Digital Dreams App: The app is back this year to provide festival goers with a contemporary means of keeping up with all things Digital Dreams. This year’s edition includes a schedule maker to help consumers with the impossible conundrum of how to catch all their favourite DJs.
ONE DAY PASSES!! Unfortunately many people are unable to attend a two day festival both days. It could be finances, it could be work, it could be family commitments. Answering the desperate cry of the less fortunate, Digital Dreams will be offering one day passes for about a hundred bucks… not bad by any means.
Last year’s recap video:
Rory Harrison – EDMTOR