On-site camping was a feature advertised this year but, apart from the camping announcement, nothing was followed up. This caused some frustration as some attendees were really looking forward to it and, from experience, camping and the music festival experience combined is something like no other, Amnesia Rockfest anyone? A main concern for those who reserved hotels near the first venue were transportation concerns, but those were dealt with accordingly.
Having an all-access pass came in handy, especially when using the facilities. Being able to wash your hands under running water and soap was a blessing after being in the sun all day. We also were able to chill backstage, chat with the artists and other media personnel. I was able to attend with a close friend, who had only been to one electronic music show before and that was Dash Berlin. You can read her take on the festival here.
My plan for the festival was to listen to artists who I have not had the pleasure of seeing, and who were scheduled to play in Toronto recently and over the long weekend at Digital Dreams and Electric Island. You can only plan so far in advance and ultimately you are left to the elements of weather, venue and if artists catch their flights or not.
We arrived at the venue just after 1:30 p.m., after hopping on the free shuttle. The shuttle ride was roughly 15 minutes and went by very quickly as all the riders were very excited to get off the bus and into the open air. Upon arrival, the main stage was not operating, but, both the Deep End and #Goldrush Arena stages were in full swing.
As soon as you went passed security you could hear the music pumping from the Deep End stage, this is where we made our first stop. Ryan Labelle was starting off the festivities. Radiohead‘s Creep and Marvin Gaye’s Heard it through the Grapevine were two of the many songs Labelle played during his set. We headed next to the #Goldrush Arena to see a bit of Rob Naylor‘s set. After the first of many pit stops we headed back to the Deep End stage where Prince Club were playing.
Immediately after walking down the mini hill, the first of two free water stations was to your immediate left and you had a side view of the main stage directly in front of you and if you looked past the first water station you could see the second mini stage. Between to two smaller stages, was merchandise, food stands and picnic benches to rest. In this midpoint you could hear music from both stages, but no one seemed to mind of attendees were dancing throughout the venue.
Shake and Pop by Green Velvet could be heard coming from the Deep End where Prince Club was on the decks. Believe it or not, this was the first time I heard the song (I fell in love) and had to go check out the Montrealer for the first time. His tracks Booty Comes First, Bring Me That Water [Bass Version], Drop It, Whitney Houston’s It’s not Right but it’s Okay were some of the tracks played.
Catz N Dogz did not make it to the festival, as they suffered travel issues.
We moved back to the #Goldrush Arena and caught Beat Service finishing his set, while Ben Gold set up for his. The main stage opened around 2 p.m., roughly two hours behind schedule(!!!), and we walked over to uncharted territory as Tommy Trash took to the decks. We stayed for about 5 minutes and heard Save the World by Swedish House Mafia, mixed into Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus followed by DJ Snake and Lil Jon‘s Turn Down for What. I first saw Tommy Trash at Veld 2012 and knew he would take everyone at the main stage for a ride, for his energy is absolute insanity. We made one final pit stop before heading back to the Deep End stage to see The Martinez Brothers.
The Martinez Brothers were one of the producers I was looking forward to seeing, as they also played Electric Island Canada Day. Their set was filled with funk and house and I could not believe they played Canned Heat by Jamiroquai, a song that always makes me dance my heart out. We danced a bit more to the funky tunes by the brothers, and made out way back to the main stage.
Our last stop of the night was at the main stage to see Fedde Le Grand finish his set, then Eric Prydz close Day 1 of the festival. Chuckie did not make his set time as his flights did not coordinate, second time this has happened for the Ottawa crowd, so both Fedde and Eric had extended sets. The first two songs of Eric Prydz’s set were Every Day and Liberate. We had the pleasure of watching the beginning of his set from the media deck. We had a great view of the entire main stage and left early to beat the rush to the shuttles and rest for day 2.
The extended license (first for me in Ottawa) reminded me of after parties from Digital Dreams and Veld last year. Artist who played included Prince Club, Mark Sixma and Dzeko and Torres.
The only downfall to the entire festival was the lack of shade, but it’s pretty common for larger festivals. I forgot how humid Ottawa gets in the summer and the festival was no exception. I also forgot that mosquitoes come out in full force at night and if you didn’t bring bug spray, as I didn’t, you left with some pretty hefty bug bites.
We arrived promptly at 1 p.m. just as So Durand and Foster started their back to back set at the Temple of Bass stage. We immediately found a coveted spot in the shade, and settled into our grove. Tracks in their set list include Skrillex Fuck That, Iggy Azalea Work, Drake Trophies, 212 by Azealia Banks, Kid Ink featuring YG Molly Cyrus (Hannah Montana) and Rusko Hold On, which is one of my favourite songs. From their set onward, we rarely left the Temple of Bass stage and we were glad to see a lot of others did not either.
Ottawa natives Thugli took to the decks next. Their tracklist included Get Low by Lil Jon and the East Side Boys, Booty 2 The Ground by UZ and CRNKN, Flosstradamus featuring Casino Mosh Pit and their remix of Boy oh Boy by Diplo and GTA. At this point it was around 3:30 p.m. and the sun was bright and the day was hot and humid. Many attendees were dancing in the sun and even more were camped out in the shade on the outskirts of the stage.
Griz was up next and delighted the crowd with a mix of hip hop, soul, funk and bass music. Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre‘s classic Still D.R.E was playing at 4:20 (best time of day), which fit the mood perfectly. Not having done any research or listening to any of Griz’s music beforehand, I did not know he played the sax. We were treated to a few live sax performances of some of his songs. Positive Force‘s We got the Funk, Aerosmith’s Dream On, Dillon Francis‘ I.D.G.A.F.O.S, and Flux Pavilion remix of DJ Fresh‘s Gold Dust were also played.
Alvin Risk was up next. I was really excited to see him as I missed him the last time he played in Toronto. We were treated to a few live performances, where Risk sang his heart out.
He set list included:
Try It Out featuring Skrillex (Neon Mix)
Fun. featuring Janelle Monae We Are Young (Alvin Risk Remix)
Skrillex and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley’s Make It Bun Dem (Alvin Risk Remix)
Alvin Risk – Legend of Zelda
Baauer – My Nose
Stay – Rihanna
Oh My! – Dirty Dancer (Alvin Risk Remix)
Monsta – Messiah (Alvin Risk Remix)
Missy Elliot – Lose Control
Duck Sauce – Big Bad Wolf
Warp 1.9 – Steve Aoki and the Bloody Beetroots
Kaskade featuring Mindy Gledhill – Eyes (Alvin Risk Remix)
Running on no sleep for three days, Zomboy on his Outbreak Tour, was up next during a dusk set. He called on the audience to pass on some of our energy to him so he could make it through. From that moment on it was absolute chaos. Playing some of his tracks Braindead, Terror Squad VIP, Hoedown, Organ Donor, and remixes, Still Getting It (Zomboy Remix) – Foreign Beggars featuring Skrillex, Fedde Le Grand & DI-RECT – Where We Belong (Zomboy Remix) plus crowd favourites Turn Down for What and Try It Out.
This was the highlight of the festival for sure. The crowd was bonkers from beginning to end with a mosh pit starting in the middle. It was really relaxing to take a seat on the grass when Joshua suggested to, since everyone had been going hard from minute one.
I briefly went to the main stage to see the final act of the night, Kaskade. I had the pleasure of seeing Kaskade on his Redux Tour at CODA. I stayed for a few opening tracks, including Lana Del Rey versus Cedric Gervais Summer Time Sadness Remix.
The last and final stop of the festival was the Temple of Bass stage were Toronto locals Zeds Dead would be closing down the stage. I never miss the chance to see the duo and haven’t missed a show since my first in 2010 at Bassmentality (RIP). The last time I saw them was during their Altered States Tour at Sound Academy December 2013.Dancing in the crowd reminded me of being at a Bassmentality. The energy the duo put forth during the entire set was amazing and the crowd loved every minute of it.
Set list included:
Zeds Dead + Dirtyphonics (featuring Bright Lights) – Where Are You
Zeds Dead & The Killabits – Bassmentality
Zeds Dead – Rumble in the Jungle
Zeds Dead – White Satin
Duck Sauce – NRG (Skrillex, Kill the Noise and Milo & Otis Remix)
Doctor P – Watch Out
Zeds Dead – Undah your Skirt featuring Mavado
Nina Simone – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (Zeds Dead Remix)
Zeds Dead and Omar Linx – Cowboy
Zeds Dead x Greta Svabo Bech – Shut Up & Sing
Luniz – I got Five on it
Blue Foundation – Eyes on fire (Zeds Dead Remix)
Zeads Dead – Coffee Break
We left shortly after Coffee break to head home and sleep for day 3.
Carnage, MaKJ, Grandtheft and Thugli and Uppercut all played after parties in the market for those not ready to end the party.
DAY 3 – Club Series: Figure with Foster and Deleg8
This was our night on the town so we danced and partied all night. I’ve been wanting to see Figure since I first heard his “Monsters of Drumstep Vol. 1 ” release. We all head banged and danced a little bit to hard as I woke up the next morning, walking like a penguin, unable to move my neck. The night passed in a blur as we arrived around 11 p.m. and didn’t leave until security kicked us out at 4:30 a.m.
Day 4 – Dada Life does O’Canada
We opted out of this night as we have always spent Canada Day with family and friends. We took the day to recover (movement was improved) from two days and three nights of hardcore dancing.
The entire Escapade Music Festival experience was an experience. From two days at the festival, a night on the town and the option to spend the last day dancing in a sea of red and white, there was something for everyone to experience. The club series was a wonderful touch to the fifth year and I hope it continues the following years. I really hope the camping option becomes a reality, but I’m sure it will be based upon next year’s location. I had a wonderful time experience dance culture in my hometown and would love nothing more but to do it again the following years. Thank you very much to the Escapade team and the artists for a kick-ass Canada Day weekend!
Natalia Toussaint – EDM TOR