By Erin Holdbeck
Over the Canada Day long weekend, Toronto played host to four stages and nearly 80,000 ravers in what has turned into the premier electronic music festival in Canada. Digital Dreams Music Festival, while only its third year, has managed to once again provide a line-up more diverse and coveted than any other in the nation. Whether you prefer big room house, heavy techno, dubstep, or trance the line-up never failed to deliver.
Saturday kicked off with the likes of Carnage, Keys N Krates, and Arnej on the various stages. For techno fans, however, Echo Beach was the place to be. Nicole Moudaber defended her title as “The Queen of Techno” and laid down some of the heaviest techno and easily one of the best sets of the weekend. She then passed off the decks to yet another legend, Danny Tenaglia, who kept people dancing until the headliners took over.
To say deciding between headliners on Saturday was difficult would be an understatement. With the four stages hosting the likes of the Justice, Deep Dish, Flux Pavilion, and Simon Patterson at the same time, not having a teleporter was probably the biggest downside of the night. I sprinted (literally) to the Dreams stage to catch the opening of Justice, which was just as glorious as I had always imagined as a massive white cross illuminated the stage. The French duo did not disappoint mixing in their own tracks including favourites PYT and Stress with remixes of Michael Jackson classics. There aren’t many DJs who can mix in the disco classic “Rasputin” and still have the entire crowd losing their minds but this is why these guys are legends.
I departed from main stage with just enough time to catch the end of what had been the first Deep Dish set in 5 years. The duo, made up of Dubfire and Sharam, were one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, and from the looks of the crowd they did not disappoint. While throwing down a more minimal set compared to the previous Echo Beach artists, Deep Dish managed to mesmerize the crowd and left everyone craving more on Sunday.
Due to what seemed like a two-fold increase in attendance on Sunday I unfortunately only managed to catch the end of Destructo’s set. The producer/DJ/HARD Fest manager/Holy Ship captain extraordinaire threw down the groove and had me dancing from the second I got to Echo Beach.
Sunday saw the waterfront stage transform into “No.19 Social Experiment” hosting the likes of the legendary Green Velvet. The unique set, enhanced by his distorted vocals and stand-out appearance, was made all the more memorable by a flash rainstorm. Big ups to Green Velvet for laughing and continuing his entire set under plastic-covered decks despite getting completely drenched with the rest of us.
As I approached the Dreams stage to catch Eric Prydz I could already hear his new progressive track “Liberate” in the distance. I expected a typical main stage set but I should have known better than to expect mediocrity from one of the best producers in the world. Prydz might have been trolling the main stage ravers awaiting Tiesto as he took form of his techno-heavy alter ego, Cirez D. As the stage was illuminated with some of the best production of the weekend the speakers throbbed with a mix of unreleased Pryda and Cirez D tracks teaching the big room fans a much needed lesson in techno.
I spent the last hour racing between headliners. Art Department, the Canadian house legends headlined No.19 Social Experiment throwing down a groovy mix of tech house. Andy C had the entire House of Boom shuffling to his devastating D’n’B set while Luciano shut down Echo Beach with the heaviest techno mix of the weekend. And, oh yeah, Tiesto was there too.
Aside from such a mind-blowing line-up of talent, Digital Dreams was managed flawlessly. Due to the abundance of water-stations, food trucks, and washrooms there were never long lines, which meant you never had to miss your favourite acts. The addition of the fourth stage this year also helped to thin out the crowds at each show making getting up close easier and more stress-free than any event I have ever attended. Major kudos to everyone who made Digital Dreams 2014 possible and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next year.
Top 3 highlights: Eric Prydz, Destructo, Green Velvet
Check out more photos of the weekend below