The much anticipated night arrived! The return of dance music icon Diplo in Toronto and it was stinkin’ hot out! The first thought that went through my head on the morning of the show was that Coda will be a sweatbox tonight if this heat continues. I have been to Coda many times before and I know when it gets hot on a summer night you’re going to need a good shower after the party. Fast forward to the Uber ride to the venue and in true Canadian weather fashion, it was actually a bit chilly out. I anticipated a large line of eager fans out front trying to get into the sold-out show, but to my surprise, there couldn’t have been more than 15 people waiting in the line to buy tickets at the door. After breezing by security, I realized there was no one out front because everyone was already inside! I was impressed with how quickly and seemingly smooth security and the ticket entrance was.
As I walked inside the main room I cracked a huge smile at what I could see and hear! Chris Larsen was already deep into his opening set, pounding a remix of Benny Benassi‘s Satisfaction; the crowd was dancing, the purple lights of Coda were spinning and I remembered why this is my favourite venue in the world, why it was awarded Best Venue in North America and then eighty first in the world by DJ Mag. After getting a drink from the bar on the opposite side of the room, I made my way front and centre of the DJ booth. The energy of the crowd was very much being controlled by Larsen. He is no stranger to playing in front of big crowds and it shows as he effortlessly commanded the decks, dropping his original tracks with groovy bass lines and catchy drum rhythms.
I wandered over to refresh my drink at the bar beside the DJ booth and as I was standing there I felt the crowd surge and let out a roar – Diplo was in the house! I quickly joined the crowd and pushed my way to a spot on the dance floor to get a view of the Mad Decent record label boss. I have been waiting for this moment for almost two month because I am curious as to what type of set he is going to play here. Keep in mind, Diplo is the king of festivals and Vegas pool club sets. Yet, here he is in a venue that is known specifically for housing the best underground house and techno DJs in the world.
Diplo started his set off by getting on the mic and announcing that he was going to be opening with a whole bunch of new, unreleased tracks. Bold move, but he does not disappoint! His new tracks sound like classic Deep House tracks, much different than some of his recent releases that are more Pop. He was well underway playing a set that I really thought was an array of the best choice of tracks he could have chosen for this occasion. Staying with his vibe of catchy vocals mixed with darker themes, Diplo had the club bouncing to tracks like Aguella by Sllash & Doppe, Work by Pupa Nas T and Denise “Saucey Wow” Belfon (DJ Gregory and Julien Jabre remix). He slipped in some of his own tracks like, Give Dem with Blond:Ish featuring Kah-Lo and some deeper remixes like Know No Better by Major Lazer featuring Travis Scott, Camila Cebello, Quavo (Slander remix) and of course his Grammy-winning track Electricity with Dua Lipa and Silk City (MK remix).
As Diplo was doing his thing, I noticed off to the right of the booth a familiar face. Billy Kenny was there and he was having as much fun as anyone else in the club. Now, a quick dive into some Billy Kenny history. After going on social media and announcing Toronto as his favourite city to visit and play in and that Coda ranks in his top three clubs he has ever played, Billy decided to make Toronto his home for the summer. I have bumped into Billy a few times before but never really had a chance to strike up a good conversation with him. I noticed that not many people have spotted him yet, so I figure now was the perfect time. I walked up and said “Hi!” and started a discussion about his experience playing the recent Dreams Festival on July 2019’s long weekend and why he likes Toronto so much. Billy is one of the most down to earth people I have met in the industry, very bubbly and happy. We spoke for a few minutes when he says he is “up”. A little confused, I stepped aside and he headed into the DJ booth, took a drink from a bottle and suddenly it as a suprise Diplo B2B Billy Kenny set!
I wasn’t sure if this was a planned set or if it was spontaneous, but they showed what true professionals they are behind those CDJ’s. Moving around each other like they had done it a million times before, Diplo was playing catchy popular vocal tracks and Billy was mixing them with his signature dark basslines and heavy kick patterns. We heard mashups of Ass by Big Sean feat. Nicki Minaj and Hit It by Justin Jay as well as some Billy Kenny originals like Ron Dat. Just when I thought the night could not get any crazier, into the booth steps Grandtheft to go B2B2B with Diplo and Billy Kenny. I have been to a lot of shows, and I have seen a lot of cool things happen at the club, but it has been a long time since I saw something that special happen right in front of me. I thought about this being a reason why coming to a live show is so amazing! Little moments like this will live on in my memory forever.
As 3AM rolled around, Diplo, Billy Kenny and Grandtheft thanked the crowd and powered down the mixer. To my surprise the crowd had not thinned out at all. Coda was still packed when the lights came on and everyone was asked to leave. Diplo was ushered out the back door and Billy Kenny left the club through the front doors with the rest of us onto the corner of Bathurst and Bloor. I grabbed the last slice of pizza nearby, and hopped into an Uber to end what felt like a perfect night!
Phil Martiniello – EDM TOR