July, it seems, is the party month, and what better way to kickstart it than celebrating Canada’s birthday? Right in the heart of downtown Toronto was the Digital Dreams Festival last weekend, a 2-day marathon party celebrating all things dance.
Day 1 welcomed in large crowds upwards of 10,000 on a beautiful bright and sunny day, and the music didn’t disappoint. Walking into the festival felt like entering into an adult EDM Disney World. I first caught A-Trak performing at the Digital Stage, which would serve as the main stage for the festivities. He really played it up to the fans, even standing on top of his booth and howling to the crowd during Dada Life’s remix of his own Big Bad Wolf. Chuckie and R3hab followed, performing high-energy mainstream electro-house to the crowd’s delight, including huge remixes of Rolling Stones T-Shirt and Champagne Showers. After dancing to my fill of big-room electro I headed over to the Echo Stage, situated on the beach and hosting an entirely different, but equally crazy party. A more primal, minimal/tech house sound had the crowd pulsing to the beat. Guy Gerber helped raise the bar and got the crowd all ready for a man I’d been dying to see for a while, Mr. Richie Hawtin. Famous for performing some of the most innovative sets in the world, I can now say I am among the privileged to witness such a thing. It’s hard to really put his music into words–it’s a dark, tech house dream that you really have to see for yourself.
Day 2 had Canada buzzing with action before the sun even rose. The day capped the final game of the Euro Cup 2012, the finale of Pride Week, and Canada’s birthday. After missing a performance a day earlier due to travel issues, Dutch superstar Afrojack showed up and promptly annihilated the main stage, dropping one of my favorite tracks right now, the Firebeatz remix of Don’t Blame the Party by the Bingo Players (that cheesy synth is so damn catchy). One of the biggest highlights of the day was hearing Mark Knight play his beautiful remix of Florence & The Machine’s You’ve Got the Love as the crowd sang the whole chorus back to him. After hours of dancing on the sand in the sun, night finally began to creep on the party. I stage-hopped over the next few hours, managing to catch techno legend Dubfire take over the crowd before seeing Alesso (pictured) wow the masses with an incredible light show and fan favorites such as Axwell’s remix of In My Mind and John Dahlback’s remix of Bob Sinclar’s Life. To be a part of the crowd during moments like that were priceless; I’m still humming along right now. Headliner Kaskade appeared in front of a giant on-screen Canadian flag as a great closer to the weekend. He put on an excellent show, including bootlegs, mashups, and his signature vocal big-room house hits (check out the massive mashup he dropped of Nicky Romero and Nero above!). The night capped off with fireworks–a fitting conclusion to such an explosive party.