I fall victim to FOMO – the “fear of missing out” – easily and often; in a few of my previous event reviews, I proclaim something along the lines of “there was no way I would miss this!”. As much as I do mean it in those articles, that same feeling applies multiplied by a zillion to Gareth Emery. I went to Emery’s open-to-close set last October at UNIUN Nightclub as part of his Electric For Life Tour, a show that ended up being one of my favourites. So when I heard he was coming back not even six months later, I knew there was no way that I could miss this!
Gareth Emery’s return to Toronto was apart of his exclusive “100 Reasons To Live” Album Preview Party tour. “100 Reasons To Live” was released on April 1st and only nine cities were selected to be a part of the album release celebrations that took place across North America throughout the month. Every day since the end of February right up until the 1st, Emery counted down one hundred things in his life that makes him happy to be alive – from In N Out Burger to playing at Electric Daisy Carnival and everything in between. The full collection can be viewed in his Facebook album or on his Instagram account.
“Strange but true fact: about two years ago, I was fucking miserable.
I didn’t have any reason to be. I was reasonably successful, in a job that I loved, was married to a beautiful wife, lived in an amazing house, had no recent major tragedy in my life, or any of the other things that make people unhappy, yet I was pretty much constantly annoyed.
Why? Because a festival I wanted to play wouldn’t book me. Because I wanted to stay in a suite, but the promoter would only book me a standard room. Because my brand-new Lamborghini was going to take nine months to be delivered from the factory, when I wanted it in six.
You probably hate me reading that. I don’t blame you. Reading this back, I hate me, too.
However, there is a depressing trend that I have noticed amongst famous + successful DJs: just how many of them are really fucking unhappy. They’re traveling the world, living a lifelong dream that took decades of work to accomplish, and yet they’re constantly pissed because they were given Moet instead of Cristal, or because one person on social media said their new record sucked. Boo fucking hoo. Bring out the violins.
Short story long, that was how “100 Reasons To Live” got its name.
I saw myself turning into an archetypal miserable DJ and decided that was not the person I wanted to be.I figured out that happiness and a love of life doesn’t come from career success or material wealth; in fact, some of the happiest people I knew were, on paper, some of the less successful. Now, I’m not saying “don’t make money” or “don’t be successful”. I happen to be a fan of both. But I learned that those things alone don’t make me happy.
What does make me happy? Many things. Sunshine. Walking outside. Beers at the pub with friends. Taking my daughter to music class. Lazy Sundays. Sunsets. Swimming. Turning off my phone, logging out of emails, getting off the social media hamster wheel, and engaging the world around me – something which I’d totally lost the ability to do.
In short, I rediscovered what made me happy, or in other words, figured out my ‘Reasons To Live’, and then stuck ‘100’ in the front for no other reason than it sounded better.
Much love, Gaz xx”
– Gareth Emery, about “100 Reasons To Live”
I’d given “100 Reasons To Live” several run-throughs prior to his Toronto appearance and overall I really enjoyed it! I marked my favourites and was eager hear them live and see if they were the crowd’s favourites as well.
This was my first time going to CODA as they typically book artists of the techno/tech house genre, an area under the electronic music umbrella I haven’t fully grown to appreciate yet. The venue may have only been about a third of its capacity when I arrived but the majority of them were already stationed near the DJ booth dancing away to the music Toronto local Andy Ares was kicking the night off with. Ares seemed to be enjoying his set just as much as his audience was; he was often smiling and grooving along to his own beat. From my experience, openers don’t usually get as much attention and appreciation since everyone is waiting for the headliner to come out, so it was interesting to see this level of engagement between him and the crowd, with more and more people joining in as they arrived.
Unsure of when Gareth Emery’s set would begin or how long it would last, I eventually moved to the lounge area at the front left; an area elevated equal to the DJ booth. The venue continually filled up with pockets of crowd forming directly behind and to the sides of the booth. When Emery took the stage at 12:30am, he opened with a remix of The Story So Far, the opening track from his new album. I recognized the song after a few notes and made my way towards the closest wing to the booth. This may seem silly, but since I’m fairly short, I don’t usually get to see the DJ and all his equipment this up close. Grateful for the lounge area being the same level, I took in the moment before making my way down to my regular spot at the heart of the dancefloor while Emery transitioned to his second song of the night (and the second song on the album), Cloudline. Of the fourteen brand new songs, twelve of them were played throughout the night. Emery played my two favourites from “100 Reasons To Live” back-to-back early in his set: Lost (featuring vocals from Janet Devlin) and Sansa. I was thrilled to see the crowd singing along and dancing as happily as I was hearing them live as the diamond patterned ceiling lights rippled waves of colours directly over us!
I expected minimal dancing space, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. If everyone picked a spot and was satisfied with where they were, there definitely would’ve been enough clearance to move freely without knocking into one another. However, this crowd seemed very eager to always move forward and there were sporadic waves of bodies pushing through trying to get closer to the front. This wasn’t always an issue and I can understand why people were excited to get a better view of show, but there were a few moments where I had to plant myself and focus on not getting shoved around because of this. As much as I encourage being free and doing what makes you happy, you should still be considerate of the people surrounding you. At one point during the night, three travellers who were making their way forward parked themselves in front of me for a few songs. They were really getting into the music and it showed in their dancing – they were throwing their bodies around in quick, aggressive movements, flailing their arms and elbows side to side, taking wide steps and knocking into anyone without a care. There is a place for people who want to engage in the music this way and that’s at the back; there simply isn’t enough space to act like this in the middle of the crowd. Overall, the high level of energy and excitement was there, but crowd was slightly less respectful of each other compared to the last time I saw Emery.
TORONTO The best person who dresses as a CVNT tonight will get to come on stage with me and live the CVNT5 dream for reals — Gareth Emery (@garethemery) April 21, 2016
On that note, let’s talk about CVNT5. Gareth Emery and Ashley Wallbridge together created the mock EDM duo going by the same name as their debut track (and pronounced exactly how you think – ask Armin Van Buuren!). The music video for the track features the two of them learning how to become famous DJs without needing any musical talent whatsoever – by hiring a ghost producer, purchasing social media followers, and creating extravagant stage personas. It’s a clever parody of every hated stereotype in the scene and I find the whole marketing scheme absolutely hilarious! Throughout the tour, Emery invited his fans to participate in a little dress up and those who fit the look of a proper “CVNT5” were brought up on stage during the song to “live the dream”. There weren’t many who came in costume from what I saw, but I did see a few selfies of various CVNT5 with Emery taken during or after the show posted on social media the next day.
About an hour into his set, Emery played his and Luke Bond‘s remix of “100 Reasons To Live”’s first single, Reckless; this version had only been released a week prior. The album’s bonus track Cruiser followed right after. Concrete Angel featuring Christina Novelli‘s vocals will most likely always be a favourite at these shows; it’s no surprise that several cameras shot up into the air to record the room singing along when he played it twenty minutes later. Emery followed this with his latest work with Novelli – Save Me. Around 2am and with only half an hour left to play, he crammed in five more tracks from his new album. Until We Meet Again, a collaborative song with Ben Gold, was followed by the album’s second single, Hands. Hands had originally debuted over a year ago at ASOT700 back in February of 2015, so the lyrics were well memorized and belted out by the entire room. To end the night, Emery played Far From Home followed by Standerwick‘s version of Reckless. After a few minutes of cheering and chanting, he came back out once last time to play an unusual yet lovely (and in my opinion, better than the original) melodic dubstep version of I Could Be Stronger (But Only For You) as his encore.
Anyone who has Gareth Emery on Snapchat (@garethemery) would’ve seen how amazing the night was and how much fun our host was having entertaining us! Thanks to the Embrace Presents, I had a great first impression of CODA and I encourage them to book more trance acts there in the future! Emery played a lot of his on original music, old and new, and the crowd enjoyed every moment. It’s very obvious Toronto (and I) adore him considering this show was completely sold out, regardless of it being held on a Thursday night. You wont be hearing any complaints from me if Emery decides to keep visiting our city every six months!
“100 REASONS TO LIVE” TRACKLIST:
1. The Story So Far
2. Cloudline feat. Joseph
3. Far From Home feat. Gavrielle
4. Reckless feat. Wayward Daughter
5. We Were Young feat. Alex & Sierra
6. CVNT5 feat. Ashley Wallbridge
7. Make It Happen feat. Lawson
8. Hands with Alastor feat. London Thor
9. Lost feat. Janet Devlin
10. Save Me feat. Christina Novelli
11. Until We Meet Again feat. Ben Gold
12. I Could Be Stronger (But Only For You) feat. Corey Sanders
14. Cruiser feat. Alex Sonata
12:30 Gareth Emery – The Story So Far (Remix)
12:32 Gareth Emery ft. Joseph – Cloudline
12:41 Gareth Emery ft. Janet Devlin – Lost
12:45 Gareth Emery – Sansa
12:52 Cosmic Gate & JES – Yai (Here We Go Again)
12:58 Project 48 ft. Haliene – Search And Rescue
1:01 Alex Sonata – Siren w/ Ed Sheeran – Bloodstream (Arty Remix)
1:12 Gareth Emery – Arrival (Ashley Wallbridge Remix)
1:15 Gareth Emery & Ashley Wallbridge – CVNT5
1:21 Gareth Emery ft. Christina Novelli – Dynamite
1:23 Above & Beyond – Peace Of Mind (Arty Remix)
1:27 Gareth Emery ft. Wayward Daughter – Reckless (Gareth Emery & Luke Bond Remix)
1:35 Gareth Emery & Alex Sonata – Cruiser
1:40 Gareth Emery ft. Bo Bruce – U
1:48 Gareth Emery ft. Krewella – Lights And Thunder
1:51 Gareth Emery ft. Roxanne Emery – Soldier (Luke Bond Remix)
1:54 Gareth Emery ft. Christina Novelli – Concrete Angel
1:58 Gareth Emery ft. Christina Novelli – Save Me
2:02 Michael Woods – Slice Of Life
2:05 Gareth Emery & Ben Gold – Until We Meet Again
2:08 Gareth Emery ft. Alastor & London Thor – Hands
2:19 Gareth Emery – Sanctuary (Sean Tyas Remix)
2:22 Gareth Emery ft. Gavrielle – Far From Home
2:27 Gareth Emery – Reckless (Standerwick Remix)
2:32 Gareth Emery ft. Corey Sanders – I Could Be Strong (But Only For You) (Remix)
Ashlyn Doughty – EDM TOR