At a time of year when festivals come and go like the subway, an artist really has to stand out to draw huge crowds during one of these events. Your set list, of course, is always going to be the main attraction — but a little originality in your stage presentation can go a long way.
Few events offer a more unusual or original platform than the Tomorrowlandfestival in Belgium, which just wrapped its 2012 edition. Going to Tomorrowland is like falling down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole and landing in the middle of Woodstock. Inaugurated in 2005, this fest is as much about the stage and the environment as the artists who perform. Words really don’t do it justice, which is why I’ve dug deep to find a live set worth watching.
Skrillex is one of the most hotly debated artists on this site, and with good reason. But one thing is undeniable: he puts on a good show. Check out his set at Tomorrowland: it really gives you a fantastic sense of the environment. Epic!
I know what you’re thinking: “Why do I want to read a review of Identity Festival in Toronto last weekend when I haven’t even seen the bpm Spotlight episodes on Digital Dreams or Full Flex Express yet?” I completely understand how you feel — but with so many amazing shows happening this summer I feel like I need to give you feedback on ‘em while the experience is still fresh.
And fresh it was. Identity had a lot to live up to. Between the monumental scale of Digital Dreams and the all-star lineup of Full Flex — and factoring in the absence of tour headliner Wolfgang Gartner from the Toronto bill — Identity came into the picture as something of an underdog.
Still, Identity did have one secret weapon up its sleeve: Eric Prydz, who hasn’t played in Canada for more than a decade, was slated to close out the night — and for many people, that was more than enough on its own.
Interviewing Eric Prydz at Identity proved to be one of the highlights of my young career, and to discover how humble and down-to-earth he seems was inspiring and encouraging. As for his performance on stage well, no surprise there: it was the best of the night.
Praise should also go to Le Castle Vania, who threw down a wicked set for a crowd that didn’t seem as familiar with him as one might have expected. This guy does not make bad songs. And while he sticks pretty close to the North American brand of electro house, the young man from Atlanta has mad skills when it comes to mixing and making music. His remix of Kaskade’s “Turn it Down” (a favourite among all the songs I’ve blogged) sent the place mental. Madeon‘s set was incredible as well. He was well and truly representing, and you could see why the young Frenchman’s star has shot so high so fast.
My personal favorite set: Showtek. These guys are crazy. I’m not really a hardstyle fan, but they converted me. They’re an awesome bunch, both as artists and as people — but when the mic is on and the tables are turning, they morph into animals. I know hardstyle has its loyal fans, and I’m sure the genre gained a lot of new ones besides myself on Saturday. Can’t wait for you to see the footage our cameraman Middy captured. Epic!
So that’s the summer’s tally so far: Digital Dreams, Full Flex, Identity – all successes. Next up is the Mad Decent Block Party, which should make it four for four. This one’s free so be sure to get your ass down to Toronto’s Yonge & Dundas Square on Saturday July 28. Headlining: hometown heroes Zeds Dead! See you there.
Here we go again. Back to Echo Beach — this time to see a man who hasn’t traveled to Toronto … scratch that, Canada … no, wait, scratch that, North America … in 12 years. Eric Prydz is headling the Identity Festival in Toronto on Saturday, and I am amped.
I really don’t know what to expect. We’re talking about one of the pioneers of this genre. Somebody who was bending boundaries in the studio before the term EDM had even been invented. Who was making his mark as a live performer when DJs were still mainly associated with hip-hop acts. Who’d established the pseudonymous Cirez D as a household name well before alter egos became all the rage in dance music. Basically: if you’re in Toronto this Saturday there is only one destination.
And the awesome doesn’t stop with Pryda. Other heavy names featured at Identity include none other than Nero — currently number one on the bpm:tv Hot 20 Dance Chart with their single “Must Be The Feeling.” It’s a while since I’ve seen this UK duo perform, and I’m excited about how their sound has evolved. The latest album, Welcome Reality, has been a massive success, I’m looking forward to this set — not just to see the crowd’s reaction, but to hear their choice of remixes. Should be a performance to remember.
Then there’s Madeon and Le Castle Vania: Both young, both heavy electro — and both awesome. The 18-year-old Frenchman Madeon has built a rep in Europe as something of a prodigy, as been a favorite on BBC Radio 1 for quite a while now. The Atlanta-based Le Castle Vania, meanwhile, is part of the tide of fresh blood from North America blood sweeping across face of the EDM world. Both should be great sets, so be sure to check them out.
And then there’s Excision. Canada, stand up! The dubstep demon from Kelowna, BC will definitely be excited to play such a high-profile fest in his home country. And whenever you get a bass DJ hype to play for you … well, consider your pants soiled. Be prepared to get grimy.
So with all that said, I think it only fair that this week’s Sweets should showcase the artists performing at Identity. Enjoy!
A very late-breaking edition of Sweets of the Week here, tendered with apologies: what with the jam-packed summer schedule of festivals and events, it can sometimes be tough to get the weekly playlist assembled in time for Friday. But don’t you stress — I will always provide for my homies.
This week we hear a massssssssive new big-room track from Laidback Luke, which has owned my iPod for the past couple of days, plus new stuff from Toronto’s Dzeko and Torres, Riva Starr and Butch Clancy, aaaaaand a sexy, sultry ballad from Ellie Goulding. These taste sooooo good! Have at it, kids!
As if summer didn’t give us enough to look forward to already (as for example, Robbie Rivera @ Maison in Toronto this Friday) — the good people at Provoke have launched a contest offering Toronto EDM fans the chance to meet a group of stellar DJs this Saturday at the unveiling of the promoter’s newest endeavour.
It’s no secret: if it’s a Thursday in Toronto and you want to hear proper house, you go to Cobra. If it’s a Friday and you need to see the hottest DJs in the company of beautiful people, you go to Maison. Now, Provoke is aiming to own Saturday nights with the introduction of Xsessiveat Club XS.
To mark the occasion, Provoke is throwing a contest. Not only are they offering a full V.I.P. package (and when I say V.I.P., I mean Cedric-Gervais-in-Miami-type V.I.P..), they’re also giving the winner a chance to meet the DJs performing at the Xsessive inaugural.
Count me in! Except, alas, I’m not eligible — but I would be supremely pleased if an EDM addict like you were there to rep bpm:tv.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the DJs on the bill, here’s a quick primer to get you acquainted. Make no mistake, these guys put in work.
MANUEL DE LA MARE
This Italian will have you reppin’ Florence so hard you’ll be draped in a Fiorentina jersey by the end of the night.
Another gorgeous day — and The Weather Network says it’s gonna stay this way for the next 10 days: 28 and sunny. You couldn’t ask for better weather for an outdoor concert. Especially since we’re right on the river, so the evening brings fresh breezes — a bonus when you plan to be dancing for hours at a time.
A technically accomplished DJ, he played with flawless professionalism, even though the crowd seemed shy about dancing. That’s the drawback of having the first slot of the evening: you tend to get the “dinner or sunset set.” Still, that didn’t stop him from delivering a solid, high-octane performance — most notably dropping “Crush On You” with Mark Knight’s “Alright.”
Sacramento dance-punk outfit !!! (pronounced chk-chk-chk) followed — and what an amazing show they put on! A live band with heavy funk and percussive influence, they were an unusual programming choice, but it all worked brilliantly sandwiched between two DJ acts. The energetic live performance really got people primed as the sun went down.
Then there was front man Nic Offer: charismatic and kind of crazy, sporting garish Rolling Stones Some Girls shorts and dancing his way furiously through the hour-long set. He got the audience fully engaged by jumping into the crowd and performing a song on ground level — at one point holding a note for an astonishing 20 seconds.
Unlike the previous evening, which saw LMFAO performing at the same time as Paul Oakenfold on another, there was no competition for the EDM audience, so Tommy Lee and Aero got the kind of crowd numbers they’d hoped for — just shy of 1,700.
They played a progressive/electro hybrid, with 20 subwoofers added on stage to give a clear but distinctive sound.
It’s no surprise (considering Ottawa is such a rock town) that House Of Pain’s “Jump Around” got the biggest reaction. Then, Aero subtly dropped the “900 Number” by The 45 King, flirting just enough before pulling it back. This is a favorite of his so he only ever plays just a few bars, to keep it fresh.
The visuals — mostly well-endowed ladies — were well suited to the Mötley Crüe drummer, even though this was a family night for some. It took more than an hour of the set, I felt, before they really found their groove and came alive, pulling cheer after cheer from the crowd — all of which prompting Aero to grab the mic and say, “Ottawa goes off … we had no f**king idea!”
The dancing became less polite and more hedonistic as Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” and some raunchy dubstep pumped from the speakers.
“We were at Tila Tequila in Ottawa in 2008,” Aero told me after the show. “Joel Zimmerman opened for us then — before he was you know who.” They were ready to keep going and locate some kind of after-party, despite having to fly to Aspen the next morning.
I’ve been surprised, actually, that there haven’t been any club gigs tacked on to the festival programming. I was expecting after-parties and club nights to be organized to take advantage of all the talent passing through, but so far the only “official” after-party is scheduled for Thursday, when Big Boi plays a DJ set after his main stage performance.
And so ended Day 3. Still to come: Mustard Pimp, MSTRKRFT, A Tribe Called Red, Chromeo and much more. Stay tuned.
Toronto’s first two-day EDM festival, Digital Dreams was exactly that: a dream. The community that came together for this event was just awe-inspiring. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, more heart-pumping beats, and more enthusiastic fellow music lovers.
Anticipation for this event was high. For weeks beforehand, just looking into store windows and seeing the Digital Dreams poster brought euphoric goose bumps. The team behind the festival was nothing short of the best. And they couldn’t have chosen a better venue for this historic EDM event than Ontario Place, a famed local landmark that opened to the public more than 40 years ago.
I wish I could have morphed into three people with a single mind and been at all the stages, experiencing each and every artist’s set. Instead I found myself running from stage to stage, trying to experience a bit of everything.
Can I pinpoint one set that I favored? In all honesty, I can’t. Every artist on the bill brought something unique and extraordinary to their performance. Still, there are a few that keep replaying in my mind.
Saturday, walking towards the Dreams Stage, feeling your mind and body pulled forward by the sounds dancing through the air, getting closer and closer to where BT (a.k.a. Brian Wayne Transeau) was rocking the crowd. A veteran of the scene for more than two decades, he knows how to keep an audience moving and cheering.
After BT’s set, Montreal-born A-Trak stepped in and quickly had the crowd under full control. Local hero JELO not only dominated the crowd during his own day-one set on the Dreams Stage, but returned later to fill in for Afrojack, who couldn’t make it for the first day due to travel delays, and once again gave a stellar performance. Meanwhile, over on the sandy dance floor at the Echo Beach Stage Hed Kandi DJs Andy Warburton and Sarah Louise gave noteworthy sets.
Back on the main stage, rising star R3hab turned in a set that people would be buzzing about for days to come. It was mind-blowing to watch the young Dutch DJ interacting with the crowd, standing up on the decks, and sharing his extraordinary passion for the music. British veteran Steve Lawler rocked the stage as one knew he would, and was followed by the equally well-traveled Canadian stalwart Richie Hawtin. Throughout the day I’d been hearing people talk excitedly about Lawler and Hawtin, and the prodigious sets from these two elder statesmen more than justified the anticipation.
The second day was a continuation of the madness. Mother Nature continued to lavish us with perfect summer weather. The bodies slowly began flooding into Ontario Place, and by 4pm the stages were absolutely swarmed. Entranced by the beat and the bass, by the ecstatic atmosphere, I couldn’t help but feel proud looking around and seeing the community that EDM creates, the shared love for the music flows through everyone. It’s so admirable to see people coming together this way to be a part of musical history.
The artist schedule for the Dreams Stage on day two was thrown off quite a bit by Afrojack’s travel mishap. He finally arrived on Sunday to give his fans the set they were eagerly awaiting — and Live Nation generously offered those fans who’d bought a single day ticket for Saturday free entrance the next day to return and see Afrojack.
Thunder Bay native Sydney Blu rocked her performance, and reminded the audience several times during her set how proud she is to be from this country.
The one set from day two that really stands out in my memory has to be Dubfire on the Echo Beach Stage. He was so hypnotizing, his musical selection so spine-tingling, he kept the crowd in a trance throughout. I have to say, every time I’ve seen him live I have been impressed; that kind of consistency is rare.
This was a weekend I spent dreaming in digital. I can’t speak for the organizers, but in my eyes the festival was an absolute success: a primo experience for the fans and music-lovers — and judging by their comments on Twitter, for the artists too. Check out some samples:
The explosive popularity that EDM has acquired in the past couple years is beyond belief. But the spectre of commercialism hovers over it now, and I pray the genre doesn’t lose it’s magic. Here’s hoping that we can look forward to more festivals and events like this that offer an opportunity for new appreciation and shine a light on some of the artists that you won’t necessarily encounter on Z103 or MTV.
Gosia Mrugala is a Toronto-based blogger and reviewer. You can read her blog HERE, and follow her on Twitter HERE.
On the football pitch, Group 4 is not the most formidable of the UEFA EURO 2012 tournament. Behind the decks, however, this is by far the most talented foursome in bpm:tv’s Euro Cup of EDM. England, the birthplace of so many A-list DJs, is the true capital of the EDM world. France has long been the place you go to find fresh new sounds, while Sweden has emerged in recent years as a contender for global dance music domination. Ukraine may be the underdog of this group, whether we’re talking soccer or music, they are definitely in the fight. Allons-y!
Ukraine – DJ Marika Rossa
She might not yet be a household name, but Marika Rossa is well supported throughout the world. Drawing on the deep roots of techno and blending it with most popular contemporary sounds, she has a knack staying ahead of the curve. For those of you who looooove techno (and speak Ukrainian), her podcasts are definitely worth checking out HERE.
Here’s a prime example of Marika going haaaaaaaaaard!
With so many big name talents to choose from — David Guetta, Daft Punk, Brodinski, Busy P, Mehdi, SebastiAn, Martin Solveig, Bob Sinclar, Laurent Wolf, Justice (whew!) — it may come as a surprise that I’m nominating Madeon to rep France. But when you look at the facts, this really is a no-brainer. Hugo Leclercq was only 11 years old when he started producing music. Not learning music, producing music. He broke into the scene when he won a competition for remixing Pendulum‘s “The Island,” and the rest, comme on dit, is history. Madeon is quickly becoming a favourite worldwide. When he drops a new track you’ll quickly find it being bumped on BBC Radio 1 and circulating around the blogs. The kid has what it takes — will he take what he has?
You thought I was gonna pick Fake Blood, didn’t you? Psych! He was, admittedly, a close finisher, along with such big-name UK dubstep producers as Flux Pavilion, Rusko, Benga and Skream. Likewise such pillars of the scene as veterans Pete Tong and Judge Jules. But in the end I had to go with Erol Alkan. A pioneer and an influencer, Alkan is a G. He’s been pumping out records for close to 20 years, and never seems to tire or grow stale. He just keeps reinventing himself. And then there’s his Web site, an absolutely definitive resource when it comes to the music we like; if you don’t already have it bookmarked, go there now. I’ll wait right here.
Way too many great tracks to choose a favourite; I’ll just give you this.
Which came first: the chicken or the egg? Which came first: Swedish House Mafia or Sweden’s dominance in EDM? A valid question. Sure, Eric Prydz and Axwell have been mainstays for a decade or more — but in the last three to five years the Swedish scene has hit some kind of critical mass, with its DJs turning out banger after banger after banger. Look at Otto Knows. A little known figure, until suddenly his track “Million Voices” goes massive, grabbing all the headlines and all the good spots in your set — until, I dunno, a new Dada Life track surfaces. It’s pretty incredible.
Just at the roster: SHM of course. AN21, Avicii, Cazzette, The Knife, Style of Eye, Albin Meyers and so many many more. But once again, I go with the young gunner. Alesso embodies everything that comes to mind when you think Swedish house. Big room, attention to detail, tunes that make your mom go “Ooooh, I like this one.” Of course you do, mom. Of course you do. Not just insanely talented — the kid is nice, nuff said. And just like Sweden’s star striker, Ibrahimovic, he doesn’t look like your “typical” Swede.
And that wraps up our EDM Euro Cup 2012. Hope you enjoyed it — and I hope you enjoy the tournament as well. Even people who hate soccer tend to come around start liking these games. Just hope I gave you the perfect soundtrack for those post-match victory parties!
The success of Provoke‘s Loud All Night Canadian-UK collaboration concert on March 31 at the Sound Academy in Toronto left many of us wishing we could relive the excitement of that night. So I’m happy to report that Provoke has released the Loud All Night sets from Chris Lake, Michael Woods, Autoerotique and Northend. You can find them on SoundCloud.
It was one of those rare evenings when the DJs and the crowd were in perfect sync, each entrusting the other with energy and getting it back with interest. Seems to be a hallmark of Sound Academy shows, as we felt the same vibe not long ago when Rusko was in town. (Check out bpm:tv’s new Rusko Web Exclusive HERE or on our YOUTUBE CHANNEL.)
I believe all the DJs called audibles during this show and really stepped up for the occasion. And there’ll be more where that came from on Saturday June 9, when Provoke presents the Space Ibiza Festival at Sound Academy. I know I’ll be there — and if it’s anything like the real Space in Ibiza’s Playa d’en Bossa, you’ll need to be there too.
Incidentally, here’s the Web Exclusive clip with Autoerotique that we shot at the Loud All Night show. Enjoy!
Beautiful weekend in the city. Mild and dark, accompanied by some great sets — just the way I like my Novembers. Zedd and Boys Noize both blessing us with some stellar shows. I feel like the electro scene has never been bigger when you see the turnouts and anticipation for these shows. It’s a good time to be a fan, and it seems like it’s only getting better.
First, I’ve gotta talk about how incredible a Boys Noize set is. Very often during live sets I’ll find myself getting lost in the music; some DJs have a great stage presence, others not so much. Boys Noize’s presence is second to none — and I really think that counts these days. Look at Sebastian Ingrosso from Swedish House Mafia. Maybe not the absolute best producer (though still very good), but he brings it every time. By the end of the show it’s not the music that you came to hear — it’s him. Boys Noize is the exact same, with one little exception: his tunes are outta this f***ing world!
I snapped a couple quick pics to help you get a feel of what the Boys Noize set was like. Check ‘em out HERE.
I wasn’t able to make it out to the Zedd concert, but a good friend and music snob told me it was also well done. Zedd has been getting a lot of exposure in the past three months and keeps delivering some very, very big tunes. I’m expecting him to be a household name soon.
Another big week ahead, as Canada welcomes Digitalism with open arms. I’m a huge fan of their style and sound, so it’s going to be exciting to sit down and chat with them on Tuesday. Any specific questions you’d like me to ask? Hit me up @Sawstruck.