EDM Summer Festivals In Toronto

TORONTO, Ontario

Originally published September 3rd, 2012 

The beats drum slow and steady. Soft at first then gradually it gets louder. The buildup begins as you wait in anticipation, feeling the vibrations make its way through your body. It gets faster and faster. And then there is the top of the roller coaster feeling, right as the coaster slowly makes it way to the top and hovers for a brief second before taking the adrenaline racing plunge. The bass drops and the crowd goes wild.

According to Rolling Stone Magazine “DJ’s are now the new rock stars”, and Toronto is stepping its game up big time as the city’s very own DJ Deadmau5 graces the cover on their Summer Special issue. Toronto most definitely got its ear full of EDM (Electronic dance music) this summer as the world’s best DJ’s took over the city.

Deadmau5 on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine
Toronto’s Deadmau5, on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine

As this past Labor Day weekend wrapped up summer 2012, I could still see the dancing strobe lights with every blink of my eye.

The excitement started on the Canada day long weekend (June 30-July 1) as the city experienced its first outdoor EDM festival titled ‘Digital Dreams’; and it sure was a dream you wouldn’t want to wake from.

Powered by Rogers and Live Nation this two day festival at the Flat @ Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, (where the old Ontario place once stood) had audiences dancing nonstop from 11am too well into the next morning. With headlining performances from Afrojack, Ducksause, Kaskade, Alesso, and much more, it was a larger than life Canada Day celebration.

Digital Dreams Line up
Digital Dreams, two day line-up

“Words cannot describe how amazing Digital Dreams was,” says regular party goer Sophie Johnston. And the positive feedback kept pouring in from various tweeter feeds and hash tags.

Toronto’s entertainment district is also following in on this trend, the leading night club and trend setter being The Guvernment Complex. The Guvernment has always been responsible for the major raves in the city by having a number of top Euro DJ’s headline a night.

The major breakthrough for The Guvernment and the EDM scene however was Labor of Love last summer. This was the city’s first ever two day EDM festival, although it was in doors and took place at night, it sold over thousands of tickets and had the whole building completely jam packed making it difficult to move or even breath at some points. The event featured some of the world’s best DJ’s such as Benny Benassi, AVICII, Bloody Beatroots, Dubfire, Crookers, Gareth Emery, Tommy Lee, and much much more, it was one hell of a way to end summer, and sparked a trial leading to next summer’s flame.

Having a two day festival indoors with headliners such as that this summer was just not ideal. With the overnight popularity of EDM and the unexpected turn out at Labor Of Love, event organizers decided to move the scene outdoors.

This summer kicked off with Digital Dreams on the Canada Day long weekend, setting the bar high for future festivals taking place this summer.

Next, Toronto experienced a festival inspired by The Festival Express tour that took place across Canada in 1970 which featured Janis Jopin, The Grateful Dead, and The Band. “The Full Flex Express” rolled into Fort York, July 13th headlining EDM’s and dubstep’s finest such as Skrillex, Pretty Lights, Diplo and many others.

Full Flex Express Tour
Full Flex Express Tour, Toronto. Courtesy of “Embrace” (C)thesupermaniak.com

The annual “Sound in Motion” festival took place July 13-15. This non for profit independent EDM festival celebrates Toronto’s underground electronic scene.

Rave addicts, who enjoyed Digital Dreams, treated themselves to “Identity Festival”, July 21st. The festival took place at Echo Beach Ontario place and headlined one of dupsteps finest artist, Nero.

“HARD Summer Festival” Hit Toronto August 4th at Fort York. This festival featured some underground favourites such as Justice and M83 and internationally acclaimed Toronto electro-pop ensemble Austra. http://embracepresents.com/justice-headlining-hard-toronto-historic-fort-york/

Then there was VELD Music Festival, Aug. 4-5, at Downsview Park. This was one of the most hyped up festivals that Torontonians awaited for all summer, and was by far the biggest and best festival to have hit the city. Put together by INK, the same company that was responsible for Labour of Love and a number of other hit raves at the Guvernment, VELD sold over a whopping 50 000 tickets, even with prices as close to $400. With headlines such as Deadmau5, AVICII, Steve Aoki, Gareth Emery and much much more, this festival just might have been the highlight of summer 2012.

Avicii at VELD
Avicii’s mind blowing performance at VELD (C) Tony Felgueiras

Outdoor summer festivals in Toronto came to an end with World Electronic Music Festival (WEMF), Aug. 17-19, in South Algonquin. The line up for WEMF was jam packed with some of the greatest DJ’s EDM has to offer such as Moby, Pendulum, Infected Mushroom, Ed Rush & Optical, Crystal Method, Wolfgang Gartner and on and on and on. This festival allowed guests to camp out over night and even bring their own booze. Although it was one of the most expensive festivals this summer with tickets starting at $179 and selling at $300 on the day of the event, many attendants described the festival as an amazing life changing experience and got more than their monies worth.

The Guvernment wraps up summer again with its annual two night rave: Labour of Love, having people dance till the sun literally came up. An epic weekend and a great way to finish off this summer.

Toronto is known for a number of things…But the summer of 2012 will be the season known for EDM festivals, raves and MDMA.

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