Festival season was well in effect in the city of Toronto on July 1st and this year due to the Canada 150 celebrations that swept across the nation, Canadians, Americans, and tourists from all over intertwined in the festivities each city had to offer. For those of us who support proper electronic music, letting loose on dance floors, and mingling with like-minded strangers, there was nothing else to look forward to then Electric Island.
I’ve been going to Electric Island events since its inception back in 2013. The festival series is one that I always look forward to mainly because of its ability to curate proper acts within the electronic dance music realm. Focusing mainly on the genre’s of techno and deep house, Electric Island is a festival for those interested in listening to musical art and experiencing sonic soundscapes that intrigue the curious parts of the human mind. Electric Island was also born in Toronto for Toronto so there is a sense of pride behind this festival series that is unmatched by any other major event. For me, this event was special as it marked my return to the big city after a number of absent years from the scene. What better way to celebrate Canada 150 then to fall back into my passion for reviewing events, meeting and interviewing artists, and listening to some of the best live music in the world?
My comrades and I arrived a little later than we wanted to due to the rain – Electric Island’s annoying companion this year – but made it just in time to catch the tail end of Recondite who seemed to have been playing a very low vibe style of melodic minimal techno fused with some deep house elements. I’ve never seen him play before, but his sound was inspiring yet timed perfectly as to not interfere with Maceo Plex who was up next. As Maceo Plex took the stage, the change in pace was noticed. The bpm’s sped up, and Maceo’s signature tech began to take shape. Sharp builds, industrial crashes and swoops, and a high hat groove that even made me shake my hips like a belly dancer. The party had finally started, and the energy began to intensify around me.
While Maceo Plex was playing, I began to take in the scenic view of the city skyline and decided to explore the second stage which was set up on the other end of festival grounds. Although the view of the city was nowhere near as beautiful as the now flooded Toronto Island, to us it was more about the music then experiencing another lineup for the fairy ride across the water. This years festival grounds for Canada 150 served it’s purpose though and made much more sense logistically.
Much smaller than the main stage but hosting a beautiful reflective Canada 150 Maple Leaf as the backdrop, second stage artists held their own and provided an impressive second option for festival goers. Boasting a more intimate crowd yet powerful punch in sound, Chaim, Atish, Borzoo, Aleksandar Kojic, and Toronto Native Nadia provided a welcoming sound with their own signature styles. I really enjoyed the sets and the stage was far enough from the rest of the party that there was barely any interference from the main stage.
As sunlight turned into darkness the shadows welcomed a swarm of red lights as Richie Hawtin took the stage. I met Richie back in 2012 during an interview I did with him and since then, I’ve always looked forward to his sets. He really is one of the only artists who constantly push’s the boundaries of not only the music he plays but in how he performs it. The change up from Maceo to Richie was impactful as it always is when the Canadian techno king takes the reigns. Heart throbbing bass filled Toronto that night as Richie threw down his mix of sci-fi techno. Grooves from space, percussive hits, and futuristic crashes were emphasized through his finely crafted Model 1 and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the 150th birthday of our Nation.