By Kaivan Adjedani, Senior Editor. Thousands of eclectic music fans were gathered in their most vibrant snowsuits and winter weather gear this year for Montreal’s annual Igloofest festival, kicking off January 14th. The only difference this year was the colorful snowsuits and toques were selected just as much for necessity as they were for statement. Even with weather reaching -25 Celsius with wind chill, yes -25 with wind chill, fans still came out in full force ready for a weekend of house, techno, and tundra.
Igloofest was organized with a lot of emphasis on being a unique experience for those in attendance. Mulled wine vendors, ice sculptures, and even a giant slide awaited festival goers in the main area right before they would make way to the stage for the music. There was also an indoor media and visual zone by the side stage which had a cellphone charging station, something that must have saved a couple people from being left behind once each night came to a close. Igloofest did an exceptional job booking world class talent this year for the festival, yet they still sure did make it hard to get to the music on time with so many cool attractions on the way.
Thursday night kicked off with British producer Simon Green, alias Bonobo, the first headliner booked to get the festival started. His set almost seemed to be background music for all the fans that were rolling in and in awe at all the glacial architecture and visual wonder surrounding them. When finally directing your attention to the stage, you were tuned in to a Bonobo tech house set and not the young Brit’s niche electronica. It was nothing ground breaking for a city so versed in electronic music, you may as well have been listening to a Green Velvet podcast since half of the tracks came straight out of one. Nonetheless, the set displayed Bonobo’s understanding of Montreal’s music culture, and his set put everyone in attendance in a groovy mood heading towards their next afterparty or venture for the night.
On Friday night it was Kim Ann Foxman who stole the show from the main stage. The tech house dj, playing one slot before closer Paul Kalkbrenner, delivered a flawless deep tech set by simply selecting solid tracks and spinning them through smooth transitions. Foxmans status as a seasoned DJ were on display as she showed no desire for gimmicks and effects, rather delivering a solid performance from start to finish with no theatrics involved. Following her set was a difficult task, and even techno veteran Paul Kalkbrenner failed to rise to the occasion. After the bouncy tech house set from Foxman, Kalkbrenners berlin style techno came off as stale and repetitive to an audience still buzzing from the aforementioned performance. The Berlin native couldn’t seem to find his groove with the audience, however he did manage to end with a bang getting a huge rise from the audience when he dropped two of his popular anthems “Feed Your Head” and “Sky and Sand” to end the night off.
There was nowhere else to end the weekend off than at the Scène Vidéotron Mobile stage with Montreal natives Maus and Soundshaper playing back to back. The two DJs are both very deeply rooted in the Montreal music scene, and there may not have ever been an Igloofest were it not for these two pioneers. They opened up Saturday night with some upbeat disco and deep house and slowly transitioned into techno as the night wound down. Both DJs couldn’t have cared less to push any certain agenda of releases or music, but rather just wanted to give the crowd a performance to enjoy. Their energy was infectious, as the Montreal pair danced along to the music just as excitedly and passionately as the audience themselves. The audience, Maus, and Soundshaper all held a genuine appreciation and understanding for house music, one that clearly overlapped given how strong the connection was between the crowd and the performing acts. It was truly a fitting end to the festival, and an ode to the Montreal music scene with no better way to close it out than alongside, two of finest veterans in the city. Until next year.