Review + Photos: Electric Island – Weekend Festival Finale (Toronto) | Sept 4 & 5

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By Samantha Gordashko
Edited by Tiffany Lam

Over the recent Labour Day long weekend, dance music fans across Canada and beyond crowded Toronto Island’s Hanlan’s Point for the grand festival finale of Electric Island. This time around, Electric Island took place over not one but two full days on the island. Much praise is owed to the Electric Island organizers for the exceptional programming; the entire finale lineup was more than imaginable. Every artist each night complemented the next in a way that provided the perfect soundtrack to each and everyone’s individual experience. In other words, it was absolute beautiful madness.

Sunday funday began with a hot, long lineup for the water taxi. We had hoped it would be a faster option than the ferry, as it usually is, but the island was in high demand this long weekend. Upon arrival, the island was impressively already well filled. From the short experience we had with the fast rising local talent warming up the day, Alberto Jossue and Members Only did a fabulous job kicking it off right. Sean Miller’s bouncy house and tech tracks had a slight beach feel, perfect for an open-air party to draw people towards the stage.

As the dance floor started to fill up, Irish duo Bicep gave attendees a full blown House education to really kick the party vibes into high gear.  Although Bicep’s tracks have been featured throughout a number of Electric Island and summer sets in Toronto this season, they still had a collection of exclusive remixes and reworks up their sleeves to be heard. Their unique brand of house music – groovy, synth-y, progressive, a bit of disco, and forward thinking – lead a captive audience of sweaty bodies that couldn’t stop moving the entire time.

Toronto house heads have been loving the Dirty Bird vibes this summer, and the vibration in the front of the subs cause by those “West Coast Bass” lines was just the brain rattle needed to remind us who’s boss. Justin Martin can do no wrong, especially when taking hip hop and soulful vocal samples and interlacing them with beautiful melodies, vibrating every cell in your body.

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Though the sun had not yet set, Nicole Moudaber still lived up to her title as the “Queen of Techno” by giving Toronto a royal lesson in darkness. Carefully selecting driven energetic and melodic techno tracks with a little upbeat vocals laced throughout, Moudaber had even the bros mesmerized alongside all the die-hard Mood fans up front and begging for more.

Nightfall soon took over the island for Get Real to close the night out. Looking up at the dark sky, a moment arose where we took a step back from the music to realize how beautifully illuminated the Electric Island grounds had become from day to dark. Glowing streams of lights hanging around the surrounding trees nestled in VIP, the area and mood had become something mesmerizing; an air that kicked back memories of the Fractal Forest at Shambhala.

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Soon enough, day one closers Get Real emerged. Green Velvet’s well-known bouncy tech tunes blended in an exceptionally dirty way with Claude VonStroke’s signature wompy basslines. These beats made the dance floor lose whatever was left of their minds, and long for an after party.

Monday’s arrival to the island was a little smoother, and a lot less crowded; the larger bulk of attendees began rolling in towards late afternoon, as suspected, assumingly recovering from day one festivities.

Fatima Yamaha’s live set created a special kind of energy in the air that had people excited to dance again. He pulled crowds out of shaded areas and onto the dance floor, which is no small feat when most are nursing hangovers and the sun is scorching hot. Even attendees in the VIP area, including ourselves, dove out into the crowd to get center stage, right up against the subwoofers, and DANCE.

It was an honour to get to watch the sunset while dancing to Guy J on a proper sound system. He is a storyteller. His cerebral, percussive tracks were blended in a way that took the crowd on music journey. By taking in the light show, or simply closing your eyes, it was easy to get lost in the groove, end up on another planet, and snap back out of it at the next big breakdown.

From the first melody out of Âme’s live set, very few had an easy time picking their jaws up off of the floor; it was pure magic, and the perfect mind trip to get the crowd antsy and groovy. Following next, Dixon sure knew how to extend the magic and manipulate the atmosphere. His eclectic samples layered over fat basslines had the dance floor buzzing with anticipation and cravings for more.

Dance floor heavyweight Loco Dice gave the Electric Island series a proper Island farewell. Anyone with a DJ educated ear or who’s ever been to Ibiza knew they had to stay until the very end to hear HOW he would mix in each tribal track after the next. His maneuvering between tracks was flawless. A perfect send off, Toronto was shown that one thing always rings true: No Loco, No Party. Take us back!

Thanks for the unreal series, Electric Island. Until next summer…

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360 photos by Tiffany Lam, Gallery Photos by Wilson Ess

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