Toronto’s first Play Music Festival went down this past Saturday, and the weather luckily managed to hold up. Held by Living Entertainment and TeamLTD, the event was held at downtown’s Fort York historical site. As it goes with all festivals the first time around, Play had some issues that certainly marred the experience. However, it was definitely not without its positive features.
The setup of the venue was nice enough. There were food trucks featuring comfort food, including well-known joint Smoke’s Poutinerie. Along the side of the venue, vendors sold clothing and rave gear (including Team LTD – I would have bought one of their nice sweaters had I not already been wearing one). There was also a water refill station, something that should be a must at all festivals. Drink tickets were sold for $3 each, with water being $3, beer being only $6, and liquor $9. A beer drinker myself, I was glad that its price was not over-inflated; I was also pleasantly surprised that the two beers offered were Moosehead and Cracked Canoe (a welcome change from overpriced Bud Light). And, everyone serving the tickets and drinks were extremely friendly. In terms of washrooms, there were two rows of flushable (yes, flushable) portable toilets off to the side.
I quickly discovered why this was so: the Playground Stage was set up as the main stage of the festival, while the Groove Stage – the one I came for – was extremely tiny. And then I realized that, of course, a dance music festival would rather have its main stage full of bangers, Melbourne bounce, and the like. I guess I was fooled by Play’s motto, “something different”.
Another curious thing; we were promised drink tickets from somebody at Living Entertainment as a birthday giveaway. When we arrived at the event and messaged this individual, there was no response all night. Why do this promotional giveaway and then not follow through?
In terms of the Groove Stage’s acts, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. The afternoon music was mostly techno and deeper sounds, featuring Calvin Pepper, Bobby Love, Jayforce, Quim, and Manzone & Strong (in that order). Then Baranov came on at 5:30 p.m. and began the Trance music for the night.
Baranov played some quality trance, and we even got a special treat: the middle of Baranov’s set featured live vocals from Amber Traill, a talented local singer and producer. They performed their brand new single Velocity, coming out this fall, and then Amber sang her track Let Me Go that she made with Martin Duckworth. After Baranov’s set came the legendary Bryan Kearney, who amped up the evening with harder trance sounds. Followed then by another stellar performance from Leon Bolier, who led us to my favourite of the bunch: Richard Durand.
Durand played a gorgeous set, and included his remix of Andain’s Promises, and one of his latest tracks, Morning Light. Afterwards, even though there was only a small amount of people there, he jumped down from the stage and shook hands and took pictures with everyone. This will always stand out in my mind; Durand is a humble, energetic, and incredibly friendly guy.
tyDi, the newest addition to the roster, finished off the evening. He played a fantastic set, even including his classic tune Vanilla, featuring Tania Zygar. tyDi’s newest album, “Redefined”, is coming out this month on Armada Music, so the audience was treated with a few new tracks from the album – needless to say, they sound amazing.
So, in the end, Play Music Festival was, perhaps, a minor success. For future Play Festivals I would suggest having one stage. It is unfortunate another festival, also playing trance, was happening the same day, which led to a split between the fan base that would have been present if there was only one. That being said, I had a blast, and everyone in the audience did as well. Looking forward to the next one!
Richard Granholm – EDM TOR