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FEST REVIEW- ELECTRIC ISLAND 2017- Labour Day Finale 2017


Is Electric Island Festival well regarded as a local Toronto City festival? or if there is a serious case of ‘we can’t take it seriously’ enough yet. Whatever the reality these mixed feelings create, the facts are these: it’s a fantastic location, people DO come out to dance, you WILL make friends, and at the end of the day, the music IS worth coming to listen to.

It may be a small, alcohol-sponsored event for now, but how many city festivals started off this way? In our opinion, the groundwork is there for outside influences to jump in and round out this 4-part summer weekend city festival. You want it to be better? Get in the ring and MAKE IT better. It takes more than organizers, DJ’s and sponsors to make a great festival. A great fan base is at the TOP of the list. Don’t complain about the lack of decorations, BE a decoration! Don’t complain about the lack of cool vibes, BE THE VIBES!


The rest is just the rest. We the dancers, we the participants, we make it all go around. We buy the tickets. Let’s take ownership and figure out how we can make it better, starting with showing up and being freaking awesome.


The event started off on Sunday with a strong and melodic house set by Sonny Fodera and continued into the night with an epic techno set by Chris Liebing: something he has been known to do. A man named Grunjie turned to me, as we danced in a sweat by the front left speakers, and yelled out- “I’ve seen this man play for over 20 years. He changed my life!”. I asked, “How??” And before being swallowed up by the crowd he replied, “I wasn’t in a good place… going down hard… he gave me something to keep dancing for!” It makes you realize that YOU aren’t the only one who gets moved by music… that the dancing, the vibe, the groove, it can be powerfully cathartic to anyone, in so many different ways. A personal universality to us all.


And with the music comes the dancing. We believe these kinds of events play a role in building and continuing Toronto’s dance music community into something that will get talked about. It goes without saying that we felt the Garden of Eden vibe this past weekend due to that festival taking a pause in 2017, which would have otherwise occurred over the same weekend. In the middle of the festival, behind the lighting booth of the main stage, Zionify teamed up with Toronto Rockers Union to hold a Shuffle Meet up on both days of the festival and encouraged dancers to come by to show off their best moves. And show up they did. The footage is to be edited into an After Movie they will post on their Facebook pages. The shufflers of TO at Electric- sounds pretty solid to me.

But dancing can’t be the only self-expression we push out at these events, it’s got to be via our dress up as well. Those who come should find and enjoy funky boutique shopping. We look forward to the Electric Market being expanded next year to offer even more. This year’s vendors included handcrafted Guatemalan jewelry shared with love by Diosa Del Sol (Michelle Chieng and Michelle DiMillo); and garments by Zuzana Grimm of Zuzanium. Her company motto? Locally made unique clothing for awesome people. How appropriate!


And whether or not you had your outfit just right, you could pump up your adornments with some face painting. The two two artists working their craft were: Natasha Kudashkina, a multidisciplinary artist and a creative force of nature, airbrushing beautiful floral designs onto faces and body parts; and Tattoos For Now, out of Vancouver, airbrushing a selection of stencils including the Electric Island logo. Instant beautification!


The only bad news of the weekend occurred on the last day. Electric Islanders were clearly disappointed when the threat of lightning strikes forced a closing of the venue on Monday at 6:30 pm, it was well understood that safety came first, and no one begrudged the staff that conducted a very efficient evacuation. At 8 pm the festival posted on their Facebook Page that Monday’s main headliner Sven Vath would play at CODA in an extended set, and Soul Clap and Mall Grab at One Loft – free with your Electric Island ticket. No word so far on refunds for those that never made it to either festivities.

So overall, did we have a good time? Are we grateful that it even happened? Are we going to do our part to help it make better? Because we can! By simply showing up next year, being awesome, and dancing wildly in the best outfit you can put together. We may always have a complaint or two, but we should remember that together we make the event worth coming back to.

Two years ago, after Electric Island’s 2nd full season, Anjali, Editor-in-Chief of Beyond the Drop, wrote in her review of Electric Island 2014 this following set of paragraphs. Something to think about as we do what we do during winter to get ready for another round of EI ….

“The first time you take a sip of good wine, you know you’re supposed to like it, but something tastes a little different.  It’s a completely new experience for your palette, not good, not bad… just… different.  Such is the case with Electric Island for first-time goers, though with every new sip the taste becomes more and more familiar, and by the end of the day it’s the most delicious experience you’ve ever embarked on – and you just want more.

Any experienced and knowledgeable wine-lover doesn’t hesitate to tell you when you’re buying a cheap bottle, when your pairing is off, or when the wine is simply not good enough to be in the presence of such a connoisseur – such is the mentality of the experienced dance music lover.  The best of the best music snobs in Toronto gather at Electric Island every long weekend in the summer – they are very familiar with the artist line-up and have been waiting for these bookings all year long.  They have spent years molding their taste buds, adjusting their palettes, and swirling the taste of their music around in their mouths to end up in a place where the lineup has to meet a certain standard before they will commit an entire day to a festival.  They turn their noses up to the mainstream and let the n00bs know they are n00bs.  While they may hold an elitist stigma, this group of experienced music lovers is essential to maintaining the quality standard of the festival – as long as they are showing up, the organizers are doing something right.


The fact that Electric Island plays host to both crowds shows that it truly is a place for everyone.  A gateway to the underground for those looking to explore, and a safe and reliable haven for the experienced, this festival plays an essential role in building community in Toronto’s dance music scene.  With no judgment or haste, music lovers of all kinds, old or new, can dance side-by-side, each taking away something different.  Whether you are there to explore, or there to enjoy the scene you love the most, organizers have really created an experience that brings people together simply for the love of music.”

By Anjali  Handa @anjali_handa read her full review here Why You Should Care About Electric Island, Toronto

Something you’d like to add? Send us your notes, what you’d like to see improved, and we will submit a comprehensive ‘suggestion box’ to Electric Island for their 2018 plans. The event is for us, let’s help them make it better. Then we can show up, be awesome, and dance. And be glad that we did!

Thank you to Ded Agency for the photo captures over the weekend.


Check out the recap video by David Nguyen for DropOut Entertainment