Hype was high in line for the doors at the Opera House Saturday night. Before I even got inside, Hardcore Underground 10th Anniversary felt like a big happy reunion. Everyone in view was greeting friends they had not seen in a while – some had not reunited since the last Daydream Productions event more than a year ago! Kandi, fluffies, and myriad rainbow colours were out in force – I was plurred two bracelets before I’d been there five minutes! – which made the excited, happy vibe highly contagious.
It was clear that the venue had run many all ages events before, and they had an efficient routine for bag checks, security, and coat check. The bar was separated off for 19+ only access, a pair of paramedics were present in case of emergencies, and the staff were all very friendly and helpful. Daydream Productions’ staff were also highly organized and proficient, rocking out to the music from their place signing people in by the doors, and encouraging everyone’s active participation by handing out colored whistles.
Local talent DJ Marty McFly was an excellent choice as opener. A veteran of many Daydream events, his funky, groovy breaks got the whole house bouncing and the amazing sound system warmed up as everyone found their old friends, made some new ones, explored the venue, and prepared to jump straight into a fantastic night.
DJ Skinny took the decks next and spun the first of many hardcore sets of the night. Although previously advertised as spinning a B2B set with Marc Smith, due to some schedule shuffling, Skinny spun his own 45-minute set, and showed he could read the crowd perfectly. He delivered some well-known tracks to keep the vibe going and get the whistlers started up and dancers yelling out lyrics to their favourite tracks. Skinny’s smooth transitions kept his set building, and although the dance floor wasn’t full yet, by the time he handed off the decks, it was certainly hopping!
Following Skinny was DJ Saiyin – a performer who had not previously been on the lineup, but was easily one of my personal favourites of the night. With the house full by this point, the dance floor filled up completely through this set! Saiyan played two remixes from the hit show Rick and Morty, including a twist on the theme song which he worked on himself with well-known DJ Luna-C, and everyone’s favourite song from Season 2 – Get Schwifty.
DJ Marc Smith performed the last set before the MC’s stepped up, and from this set onward the dance floor was packed until the end of the night. As expected, from all the UK headliners, he spun a fast-paced, happy, bouncy set that picked up from Skinny and didn’t let go until Chris Fear stepped up.
MC Frikshon joined DJ Chris Fear on stage for the first set of the night that included an MC. While the music continued to consistently fill the dance floor and keep everyone moving, the crowd seemed highly divided over the MC’s – both in this set, and for the rest of the night, when MC’s Obie and Keyes joined DJ’s Fracus & Darwin, and DJ’s Dynamic and Flyboy. While half the crowd enjoyed the MC’s, the other half found them distracting, particularly when they spoke over lyrics. Personally, I found that the MC’s neither diminished my experience nor significantly added to it, although I discovered that this opinion put me in an oddly neutral position.
Fracus & Darwin played two sets, bookending Oli G. At this point, the night was in full swing, with a completely packed dance floor and track after track of classic hardcore and old skool beats resounding through the house. For me, all three of these sets seemed to meld into a simply beautiful and continuous almost three hours of dancing and bouncy happy hardcore tracks. The transitions were so seamless that it was difficult to find a clear division in the music.
Oli G read the crowd perfectly, filling in the space between Fracus & Darwin’s sets seamlessly, and, in step with them, continued to deliver more of what everyone wanted to hear. At some points it was hard to find someone who wasn’t belting out lyrics or whistling in time with the rhythm. I personally came late to the rave scene compared to others my age, and while I loved every second and was making some wonderful memories, many of my friends were reconnecting with their rave experiences from nearly a decade ago, and feeling the nostalgia of familiar tracks much more deeply, as only long-time fans can.
Finally, to end the night, Toronto’s own – and much loved! – DJ Dynamic and DJ Flyboy brought the perfect end to a spectacular night. Spinning the only full- hour set, highlights included Flyboy’s signature remix of Living on a Prayer and DJ Dynamic’s signature Shooting Star among other favourites. Anyone left in the building was dancing in whatever space they could find – you could almost see the smoke rising from the dance floor as Dynamic and Flyboy burned through their set! As always, lots of love went out through every track in this set, leaving everyone on a high note.
Glovers, poi-spinners, and hoopers were all present, practicing their flow arts and adding their unique style and energy to the night. Outfits were creative and, above all, colourful! The amazing sound system and on-point lasers created a bright, comfortable atmosphere that encouraged dancing as much as socializing, but the best part about the night was certainly the people! I don’t know what it is about hardcore shows, but they seem to bring out the best in everyone who attends – even people who came in a lower mood just caught the infectious happy feeling that was travelling around, and within moments of getting in the door, were smiling and talking and dancing.
The headliner DJs even came out to meet and greet with the crowd before or after their sets, and were happy to have a chat and drink. Hardcore DJs love their music, although these artists must often keep a day job as they can’t fully support themselves on their musical passions since Hardcore is not as popular as other genres. In fact, this was exactly the situation that prevented Al Storm and Jaw-D from being able to attend, although the reshuffling of the schedule allowed for the addition of DJ Saiyan, who was my personal favourite of the guest DJs, and gave me a greater appreciation for the effort made by all Hardcore DJs to deliver quality music to their enthusiastic fanbase. Between the performers and the crowd, the cheerful, happy vibe never faded!
DJ Marty McFly
Fracus & Darwin
DJ Dynamic & Flyboy
Jade – EDM TOR