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Electric Island, Not Your Average Music Festival

This past August 7th Civic Holiday long weekend saw yet another successful iteration of Electric Island that took place in Toronto, with a lineup that was as diverse as the city’s cultural identity. I knew the day would pass into the night way too quickly, as most often is the case with every EI party. Each of the four long holiday weekend installments have boasted some of the industry’s finest talent as well as showcasing and supporting up and coming local talent. This event is more than just a gathering of like minded musical souls, it’s the stuff outdoor music events were initially intended to be.

Photos by Ded Agency

It’s safe to say that the industry has become overly saturated with music festivals and it has become increasingly more difficult to decide which ones are truly worthy of our time and money in terms of music, venue and other attractive festival features, that is with the exception of Electric Island.

The event remains true to its ethos of providing music lovers with a genuinely authentic and uplifting music festival experience. I can confidently say that I will probably never tire or lose interest in this homegrown event because it manages to create a sense of balance in music representation, balance in length of time the event runs, and balance in multi sensory services provided. Any notions of excess simply do not exist, apply or even happen because of this.

“If you haven’t been to an Electric Island event, you have clearly missed the boat on attending a proper electronic music festival”

At the heart of every EI episode is a team of dedicated professionals who go above and beyond to provide all attendants, with the absolute best music experience and for a fraction of the cost of a typical electronic music festival. You get more bang for your music buck, which always includes a long list of artists, a multitude of food and beverage options to satisfy your taste buds and rehydrate your personal dancing machine. If you haven’t been to an EI event, you have clearly missed the boat on attending a proper electronic music festival.

Speaking of boats, part of the allure of Electric Island is traveling via water taxi or ferry to Hanlan’s Point, one of the many beautiful Toronto Islands. This year due to the record high rainfalls in our city, EI had to move its headquarters to Port Lands, a space near Toronto’s harbourfront. Much kudos and recognition should be given to the team of organizers and “plan B” providers for ensuring that the notorious Electric Island vibe was not affected by this relocation whatsoever. In fact, the ease of getting in and out of the venue was what made the event all the more enjoyable.

As I made my way into the grounds I could already feel the infamous Electric Island relaxed, simmering vibe ensuing. I decided to start things off by heading over to see Nature of Music who, as usual, managed to properly get the party underway with their melodic and warm approach to lulling music fans into their space. To witness these musical gurus work their magic is to experience electronic music on its highest of vibrational frequencies. Your soul is soothed and your body effortlessly grooves to their transportive and mystical sound.

The weather saved face with a spattering of showers that led to a glowing sunset and rainbow lined sky, a perfect segway into the evening’s headliners. I walked into the VIP section to watch Mano Le Tough serve up a music meal of slow cooker electronic suspense with mild distress in high definition sounds. The Irish born Maeve label owner proved to have a note perfect ear for melody mixed in with allowances of caffeinated dance floor instrumental layovers that kept the heat in my feet percolating.

“The sheer vigor of his stage presence and setup was captivating and simply mesmerizing!”

Next up, Bulgarian live-act KiNK absolutely stole the show in my opinion! His performance was outstanding as he relentlessly guided the audience on an eclectic and ecstatic journey between house, techno, and broken beats. The sheer vigor of his stage presence and setup was captivating and simply mesmerizing! I could not stop moving to his insatiable sound or watching him maneuver effortlessly around his live setup.

Taking festival-goers into a full moonlit nightfall was Russian techno maven Nina Kraviz. Regardless of how you might feel about Nina’s approach to electronic music, you have to hand it to her, she has a determination that is unparalleled when compared to her peers. Her performance was true to Nina Kraviz form, combined with sultry dance moves, making smoking look sexy as f*** and a mishmash of tracks, that I am sure sent many hearts into arrhythmic dissonance. From her outlandish vinyl selections to her unapologetic demeanor, this electronic diva means business every time she steps behind the decks! Damn girl!

While it may seem that our society thrives on self-promotion and recognition, there are many people who achieve great success out of the spotlight and actually prefer it that way. That being said, I believe it’s important to recognize that a crucial part of any live performance happens behind the scenes and out of the spotlight, both before a production is mounted, during and after its run. In knowing this, I have made it my goal to get to know and learn more about the people who make events like Electric Island so memorable; who, not surprisingly, are also responsible for putting together a slew of other events in the city.

I have often wondered, “Who puts up those amazing lights? How long does it take? Who cleans up the mess, when the party has ended? What about the sound? Who are the behind the scenes people responsible for this incredible event who never really get recognition for it?”

So, let this be my ode to the backstage hands who ensure that the artists are content with their setup and their riders. Thank you, to the servers and security staff (Carl, Toronto loves you) who smile and tolerate even the slightest of impositions. Thank you, to the sound guru Mr. Connor Sharp (and his team) who walks around to make sure everything is literally in check from all angles of the venue. And finally, thank you, to Mr. Fox’s clean up crew who in two blinks of both eyes had the grounds looking like the event had never happened. That’s three magical “thank yous”, if you’re curious about the importance of saying thank you three times, google it and make a habit of doing it:)

Moreover, I think the best part of my Electric Island experience has to have been the manner in which media is always taken care of and regarded. From the ease of entrance to the VIP/backstage facilities where I could go take a load off, catch my breath, grab a drink and rest my dancing feet, the staff went to great lengths to make sure that I wouldn’t forget such treatment. I felt more like part of the EI family than just a regular guest and for this, I am ever so grateful! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Footwork, Embrace and Platform and the best photographers in the business, Ded Agency! See you on the island in September!