After-parties had left many EDM-lovers rather worse for wear during day two of the Digital Dreams Music Festival, but the general consensus I gathered from conversations was that these partygoers still had a better time on Sunday. This was probably due to sunnier weather, a more organized dynamic, and a hung over yet high-spirited crowd. The lineup for Echo Beach was equally top-notch on the second day, and, since I’d skipped out on Saturday night after-parties, in favour of a full-night’s recharge, I was ready to tear up the sand all over again.
I arrived for the beginning of Destructo’s set. As the youngest and freshest addition to the HARD label, he brought forth a glitchier, more Americanized variety of techno than had been presented on Saturday. The atmosphere was fun and positive, and Echo Beacher’s were reassured of their place at the festival when Destructo himself shouted “Everybody in front of this stage right now – you guys know good music!” Playing tech-y remixes of Duke Dumont’s Need U (100%) and Breach’s Jack, the unified vibe was already settling.
Following Destructo was UMEK; the Slovenian tech house wizard who brought us high energy beats from Behind The Iron Curtain. UMEK‘s distinct, fast-paced techno is known around the world for hyping up crowds during his live sets, and he pumps up gym workouts with his 1605 Podcast.
During his set, UMEK wasn’t shy to join in on the passing around of beach balls, which was heartwarming to watch. On top of proving to the audience that he is super down-to-Earth, he also slammed out an exhilarating mix. After only twenty minutes of dancing, I looked down and discovered that I had burrowed myself 6-inches deep into the sand! UMEK is obviously very good at his job. Some standouts were his mix-ins of a System of a Down track and Tom Flynn’s Do You Like Bass.
Up next was Mark Knight who is a favourite within both the underground and the mainstream EDM scenes. The crowd became more bikini-clad and better looking when he came on, and he himself was, in my opinion, the best-looking DJ of the weekend – all tan and muscles. He played a set that mixed pop-tinged music with hard underground techno and everything in between. Mark Knight was good entertainment.
Steve Lawler took us to the dark side with his infectious techno and tech-house dubs. The crowd was distinctly older and rougher in appearance. He voraciously sucked back a cigarette, while admirers danced behind the decks, and a Pentagram flashed across the screen. Lawler is a living emblem of the dark side of the scene, and this is why we love him. A track that I managed to identify was Optogon’s Zeus.
Echo Beach closed its stage at Digital Dreams 2013 with none other than Dubfire. By this point, the crowd was rather faded and jaded, but a final dance party did manage to break out. He certainly set the dark and heavy dubs on fire, dropping Ron Costa’s Termal Infrag amongst other spooky minimal tracks.
By this point, I was experiencing a strange sensation that the festival had no real beginning and no real end – it was all just a continuation of energy in flux. This was possibly due to exhaustion and heat stroke. However, when techno is of high quality, it sends you into a meditative state where the real world is blocked out and your imagination roams. That’s why it’s so appealing to the experienced EDM listener – because it’s what feels the best to an ear that’s heard it all. Simplicity is golden. And what’s simpler than dancing to good music with other people who just want to dance to good music?
A great big thank you to Balance Inc. for directing the Echo Beach experience, and to all the sponsors who made Digital Dreams a reality. It was a great success, and Toronto can’t wait for next year!
Greta Smithies – EDM TOR