EVENT REVIEW: Monkey BuzinezZ Presents Trance Unity Rave at Circus Afterhours Montreal 04-06-16

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I had been extremely excited for Monkey BuzinezZ‘s Trance Unity Rave event since its announcement early this year. This excitement was definitely warranted, as I can firmly say this was one of the best events I have EVER been to, right up there with Dreamstate San Bernardino and possibly edging out Dreamstate San Francisco. I am still in disbelief at what I have experienced. It was one of those events that has rekindled my intense love and obsession of trance; so much so that this may be extremely tricky to put into words. Also, 13 straight hours of dancing like a fool is hard to remember as well. One thing that does need to be said before we continue is that photos and videos were not allowed at the event. The goal was to have people truly experience the event, and live in the moment, instead of going through their phones or taking YouTube videos. “What happens at Trance Unity, stays at Trance Unity”, except for our review (although we don’t want to give too much away)!

Also, as I could not be in all three rooms throughout the night, I did recruit some friends to help me fill in the missing spaces. Special thank you to team EDMTOR members Adele, Ashlyn, Edmund, and our honorary Team member from Chicago, Luc! We would also like to apologize for any artists that we missed or were unable to review throughout the night.

trance unity with set times

Ashlyn and I arrived at Circus Afterhours at approximately 11:15ish. Neither of us had been there before, but upon walking in, I had that  instant “this is home” feeling that I have only ever gotten at 2 other clubs before – Beta Waterloo and the old Guvernment. The venue was still filling up at the time so I took the opportunity to look around. I noticed it was very easy to navigate, very open, and was quite clean. I first ventured into the Heaven room, where I remember standing in front of the Funktion One speaker towers in utter awe. I had only heard of this magical system but not yet experienced a full Funktion One system for myself. My God, did the music sound so clear! It brought a tear of happiness to my eye and I’m pretty sure I was grinning like an idiot. If you cannot yet tell, I get comparably excited to a kid being brought to DisneyWorld at events such as this. Unfortunately having arrived at this time meant we had missed the first opener of Hell Room – the contest winner Niles Baxter and Heaven Room Chris Element

trance unity tune dj contest winner niles baxter
A friend was able to fill me in on a bit of Chris Element’s set, quoting that he produced some dark techy grooves with deep stabs, progressing into some dark and dirty basslines (shoot! maybe I should have come earlier for this – that sounds awesome). One track that stuck out in my friend’s mind was a killer mashup of Nadia Ali‘s Rapture.

We also decided to check out some of the important areas of the club, including the bathroom. Having spent many nights at Guv, I have grown a fear of club bathrooms and figured this one would be the same. Have you ever heard of a club that cleans their bathrooms throughout the night?! Neither had I, but I have now experienced it. I could not believe how clean Circus was; I’m sorry to say, but it made Guv look like a bit of a cesspool.

The decor was simple, yet fitting, for the themes of the room. Heaven featured fluffy white feathers that draped over the triangular light fixtures hanging from the low ceiling; they would glow the colours of the rainbow whenever the lights flashed and lasers danced on them. I wonder if anyone took one as a souvenir? Hell’s decorations were a little cheesier. Taken straight out of a children’s Halloween classroom party, plastic chains and skulls dangled from the ceiling throughout the room along with a few hanging basins with flickering paper flames. This room was easy to tell apart as it was always glowing red. Unlike the other spaces, Earth didn’t have any themed decorations, but sported rainbow coloured vertical light bars behind the DJ booth. There were a few side rooms and connecting rooms as well that were FILLED with couches and places to sit- bonus points to Circus for this!

One more thing that may be important to note about my attendance at events with multiple rooms: I either have room ADD where I run back and forth between rooms or I get stuck dancing to the music and just cannot leave. The latter first happened during Tomac‘s set. I had heard many a great thing and had to check him out for myself, making sure to show up in time for his set, and I must say I am very glad I did this. Tomac played a great set including some of his tracks released on Excelsior (such as Polygons and Meheil), and even treated us to some unreleased tracks (one we will be reviewing shortly so keep an eye out!). The crowd loved when he played a mashup of Motorcycle‘s As the Rush Comes and his original track Gabrielle.

We headed over to catch the end of Karl K-Otic‘s set, but we had just missed him. He was spinning in the Hell room while Tomac was on, so apologies to Karl for our tardiness costing us a listen to his set. He had played tracks like his orignal, titled We Are Limitless, as well as Markus Schulz‘s Big Room Reconstruction of Aerofoil‘s Caress 2 Impress, David Gravell’s remix of Orjan Nilsen‘s Amsterdam, and Mark Sixma‘s remix of Cosmic Gate’s Exploration of Space, to the delight of the dancers in Hell at that time. We were lucky enough to catch up with Karl when we made it to the Hell stage, and then met two more Monkey BuzinezZ resident DJs, Tomac and Chris Element. They were all extremely friendly and kind; they made us feel like a part of the community. They were also extremely grateful our preview articles and editorials written leading up to the event. Thank you all for thanking us!

For the next little while, I was bouncing back and forth between Hazem Beltagui and Danilo Ercole in Heaven and Hell rooms respectively. Since I did not stay in one place, I did not get as much of an overall feel for the sets as I would have liked to, but my impressions of what I did catch were very good! I was able to catch Hazem playing his own track with Aneym called Passengers, a remix of Above and Beyond‘s A Thing Called Love, and Orjan Nilsen’s Endymion. He played some dirty basslines, and some bright, lush chords, spinning with a Launchpad and Ableton, which I thought was kind of cool.

Danilo Ercole played some dark tracks and a good portion of tech which really got people dancing. As Luc explained, it had a progressive Coldharbour feel to it. Also included in the dark drops were emotional melodies in the breakdowns (yay the feels!). The lasers also began to fire up during this set. Danilo played Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten‘s Loops & Tings, which got the crowd involved, and one of his own most popular songs, Cruiser.


I must say, throughout the entire night, there was not a single bad set, or even a single moment where I was thinking “shoot why are they playing this”. This made it extremely hard to move between rooms because I was scared I would miss something really good!

We were also able to catch up with Sheridan Grout, who played in the Earth room. Sheridan played a number of his own original tracks, most of which are still classified as IDs. 2 of these tracks are new and have yet to be signed, but he did give us a sneak peak of two of his tracks that will be released this summer, titled Puma and A New Tomorrow. We can’t wait for their releases!

Next up was a very highly anticipated set, Orkidea. I had heard good things of Orkidea, but had never experienced the magic myself. I must say though that I think his set was in my top 3 picks of the night. He started out a bit slower with his Whiteout remix of his own track Beautiful and his remix of Eric Prydz‘s Generate, and built things up as his set progressed, eventually turning to those pure trance vibes that I’m a complete sucker for. He played a lot of his own originals and collaborations, and also a few cool and unique mashups. Luckily, some awesome human being somehow was able to identify the majority of his set which can be found here! The crowd went nuts when he played Revolution Industrielle, which has now become one of my personal favourite songs.

Mark Sherry started his set at 2AM and was given a 3 hour time slot. The room became packed with excited people who had been anticipating this set. He had previously posted that due to the nature of the event, he would be playing a set that may bring back old “warehouse rave” feelings and vibes with new music and old classics. He in fact brought the dark and smokey kinda warehouse feel that he was talking about and the crowd loved it. He even played a new track that will be released in a short time from now on Outburst, called Gravitational Waves. He played a more techy set with hard drops and powerful percussion. I think we made a good impression on him because he took to facebook shortly after his set and commented:

“One of the best clubs and crowds in the world..FACT!! What an incredible night at CIRCUS Afterhours last night for the ‘Trance Unity’ RAVE in Montreal, unreal! Probably one of the most underground/darkest sets I’ve ever played an I enjoyed every minute of it..thanks to everyone on the dancefloor for being so open minded!!” – Mark Sherry

At this point, I’d like to throw in an observation that I made numerous times throughout the night. The music was so good and the crowd was dancing so hard to it that we literally heated up the place to sauna levels. The Hell room was literally as hot as Hell and the Heaven room was not much better. I found my solace dancing near the industrial sized fans they had placed throughout the venue- those were a blessing. Luckily the Earth room was also a nice escape with slightly cooler temperatures, and still serving up some banging trance courtesy of JCP, Sheridan Grout, Hollow Earth, Ross, and Lars Pederson. Unfortunately I did not make it up to the Earth room as often as I would have liked, but every time I did venture up, I was very pleased with what I heard.

Giuseppe Ottaviani started his Live 2.0 set at 4:30AM. You could tell this was a highly anticipated set due to the influx of people into the Heaven room. People literally traveled from near and far to Circus specifically for this live set. He used 2 Macs running Ableton and a midi controller as part of his set up. The crowd especially loved when he played his insane Dr. Who track, and a new unreleased track he likes in his Live 2.0 sets called Slow EmotionA full tracklist (minus a few dang IDs) was posted and can be found here. I personally went nuts during his second track of his set – Lean On with Jennifer Rene, which I have not stopped listening to since I left Montreal. There is something about this track that I can’t get over. It is so pure and beautiful and sounds so incredible on a Funktion One. I think it was a perfect song to describe the crowd too. We all shared a special love for trance and it was beautifully unifying.

Luckily, with our VIP wristbands given to us by the Monkey BuzinezZ team, we were able to hang out behind the DJ booth and really watch the magic of Giuseppe’s very unique live set. I personally love when producers have some unique talent that sets them apart, and live sets really excite me. How many producers can say they make their music live while playing a show! Move aside “push play DJs”, this is how the professionals do it! For those who weren’t there to experience this set (I highly encourage you to catch him next time he comes!), here is a cool video of him explaining Live 2.0.


Coming on at 5AM was “Degenerate” Sean Tyas, also set for a 3-hour time slot in the Hell room. The tracklist of the last 2 hours of his being posted here as well. This was another set I bounced back and forth a lot during, unfortunately not getting the entire feel for the set. Sean picked up right where Mark had left off, spinning some fast tech-trance with some psy elements, hard kicks, and some uplifting melodies. 

Just a little after 6AM, Alex M.O.R.P.H. started his set in the Heaven room.  He treated us to some driving tech trance and some psy trance with those lovely vocal breakdowns that you just have to stop and sing to. We heard a wide variety of tracks, including his remix of Ernesto & Bastian‘s Dark Side of the Moon. I’ll give Alex props, when 6 am rolled around, people were beginning to get tired, waiting for that second wind to kick in. He kept people dancing and helped us push right through.  Also, Alex was set to play a classics set at the “afterparty” the next night, so he was probably holding on to some special things for those attending that as well. Keep an eye out for our review of the Alex M.O.R.P.H. Classics Afterparty at Play.

At 8 am, was Sied van Riel in the Heaven room, and the EDM rockstar Ben Nicky in the Hell room. I was highly anticipating Ben’s set so I will admit I totally got stuck in that room. Despite missing most of Sied’s set myself, I have heard nothing but good things. His set featured hard banging trance with euphoric melodies and chords. Sied played his remix of Tiesto‘s classic Traffic, and Ferry Corsten’s Beautiful, which received praise from the crowd, as it gave us a moment to stop and sign along and bask in the moment. A large portion of the crowd was still in the venue at this time, in the homestretch, still going hard. It was pretty clear that this crowd absolutely loved trance.

Ben Nicky may have had one of my favourite sets of the um, well morning at that point I guess. I personally have a soft spot for uplifting and vocal trance, but have a new-found love for the harder hitting psy side of things. Ben did a great job of marrying the two together for his 2.5 hour set, filled with both old and new tracks, and many of our favourites. I was pretty tired as his set started so I found myself a spot where I could hold on to something for support and continue dancing. The music was just so good that instilled a second wave of energy in me that fueled me for the rest of the morning. We heard a mashup of Tiesto’s Traffic and Adagio for Strings, Gareth Emery‘s U (which I must admit has been one of my favourites since the Guv finale), the Daniel Kandi remix of OceanLab‘s On a Good Day, Chris Schweitzer‘s Scorpion (another favourite of mine, I may have lost it at this point and danced till I almost fell over) and many, many more great tracks. As well, we heard his 140 BPM Headf**k version of Porter Robinson‘s Language, and his remix of Mark Sixma and Emma Hewitt‘s Reckless Hearts. All in all, it was a great, entertaining, dance worthy set and the crowd loved every minute of it.

The closing set in Heaven room was Allen & Envy, played solo by Steve Allen. I first off want to congratulate everyone that made it to this point, you are all champs. Once again, I bounced back and forth between rooms for the end of the morning, sadly meaning that I ended up missing a good chunk of this set so again I had a friend fill me in.  I also managed to find the tracklist (which can be found here) and I’m realizing I missed a few great tracks, such as Solarstone‘s Seven Cities, Standerwick‘s remix of Gareth Emery’s Reckless, and Standerwick’s remix of John O’Callaghan‘s Find Yourself  (although I do remember belting this out at some point so maybe I was there).

Ending off the night in the Hell Room was Vini Vici. Despite this being a 10:30AM time slot, I think it was fitting for him to close out the event. My favourite thing to get me through the home stretch is some hard, pounding psytrance. I just put my head down and dance until I make it to the end, or fall over, which ever one comes first. My body has this innate response when I hear psytrance; my feet start moving, and I cannot control it. Vini Vici’s set was full of energetic psytrance with those crazy buildups, followed by hard pounding drops.  Luckily by this time it had begun to cool down a bit, so the crowd that was remaining gave it all they had left. It was actually quite impressive – there were a few people sitting, but most were still up dancing even as noon approached. Throughout the set, we heard a lot of VV originals including Talking with U.F.O.’s and The Tribe, as well as some of his well known collaborations including The Calling with Ace Ventura, and Mad with Coming Soon. And of course, we cannot forget his famous killer remix of Hilight Tribe‘s Free Tibet

Before I end off my review of this incredible event, I want to make sure I talk about the crowd as it was such an integral part of the night. The crowd was polite, knowledgeable, respectful, and friendly. All in all, this was the crowd I would want to be in at any show. I also loved seeing so many of my Toronto Trance Family friends, as you guys always enrich my night! Because Circus was not serving alcohol, and thus did not have bottle service, the crowd, while although some may have still been intoxicated in some form, was not sloppy and arrogant. No one thought they were better than anyone else because they could afford bottles, and the creeping/getting hit on was extremely limited – yay! There were numerous times throughout the night that I would sit and spark up a conversation with strangers beside me, if we could hear each other that is. This may have been why I sounded like a squeaky man at the end of the night, but it was totally worth it. That crowd knew that we were all in it together, united by a common love, and we were going to make it to the end of the trance marathon together, and many of us did!

To close, Circus and Monkey BuzinezZ did everything completely right with this event. I don’t even have any suggestions for improvements, which is actually kind of rare for me. Again, I’ll apologize for my long-winded review, but I loved this event so much that once I started writing, I just could not stop!

Trance Unity 2016; 10/10, WILL do again!

Also, I put together a special treat for you guys! Here is the TeamEDMTOR Trance Unity inspired playlist, composed only of tracks we heard that night, for you to relive the event!

Trance Unity thoughts from Ashlyn:

When the EDM TOR team first brought Trance Unity to my attention, I was lost. As the newest member to the team and the newest to the rave scene, several names on the lineup were unfamiliar to me. Nicole, Adele and Ed have much more experience and knowledge about the music than I do, but their constant excitement for this event plus my love for trance and embracing new music influenced me to make the trek out to Montreal. And it was incredibly worth it! Not only is the city absolutely beautiful with a lot to experience day and night, Trance Unity and Circus Afterhours blew me away! Most of my night was shared with Nicole and she did an amazing job of summarizing our night and I’m very proud of us for surviving until it ended at noon the following day. Hell was unbearable at times because of the extreme heat (ironically following the theme) but those large industrial fans were a blessing, and I share my deepest appreciation for the cleanliness of the co-ed washrooms. My personal favourite sets of the night: Ben Nicky, Orkidea, and Tomac.

Trance Unity thoughts from Adele:

I had been sitting on the fence about venturing across the waters to Holland to make my usual appearance at Luminosity Beach Festival for a few reasons, but the nail in that coffin came with the announcement of the Trance Unity line-up. I immediately hit up the team to start some articles and coverage for it, knowing that we would most likely head into Quebec to attend. I have covered a few events in Montreal for the Monkey BuzinezZ team (even before they were Monkey BuzinezZ) at Circus in the past, and I knew that Trance Unity was going to be out of this world. The minds behind Monkey BuzinezZ really have a handle on how “rave” style events should go, and it goes along with the way I believe they should as well: longer set times and a more intimate setting. I had an incredible time, and our team was treated with heaps of love, respect and gratitude for the work we had been doing leading up to the main event. After the full line-up was out, I knew that I would predominantly be dancing in the Heaven Room due to my preference for uplifting tracks. Let me tell you, I was not let down in the slightest during this entire event, even when I ventured off to check on the team members and listen to some artists in Hell and Earth. I have to agree with Nicole and Ashlyn, and make extra note that the clean washrooms and the large fans around the venue really made a difference. My favourite sets at Trance Unity 2016 were Tomac (still holding the title of being my favourite DJ, with a vengeance!), Giueseppe Ottaviani (whom I currently am calling the Magical Unicorn of Trance due to his musical skill level), and Allen & Envy (whom I had not yet had the chance of seeing live until this event). Trance Unity and Monkey BuzinezZ, you get 5 stars from me! ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Trance Unity thoughts from Edmund:

It is always a pleasure to head to Montreal for its incredible music scene. The incredible artist bookings always attract my attention, but its the clubs and people of Montreal that keep having me returning. Trance Unity at Circus after hours was no exception to this providing an incredible venue to host 15 hours of non stop trance. The event being named Trance Unity could not have been any more appropriate. Being there the night of June 4th I have witnessed the mass of fans unified all following their passion for Trance music. With 3 rooms offered it was quite fun to roam around to the different rooms and check out what each and every single artist had to offer. Although I was only able to be at one place at a time I was able to witness a good handful of artist. It was great to see each of the artists be appropriately placed in the correct theme of room based on their style of Trance. I hope that in the very near future I will have the chance to attend such an event again.


LINKS:

Tomac
Website
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Hazem Beltagui
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Orkidea
Website
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Giuseppe Ottaviani
Website
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Giuseppe Ottaviani
Website
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YouTube
Alex M.O.R.P.H.
Website
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Sied Van Riel
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Instagram
YouTube
Allen & Envy
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Chris Element
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Danilo Ercole
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Karl K-otik
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Mark Sherry
Website
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 Sean Tyas
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Ben Nicky
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Vini Vici
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Hollow Earth
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JCP
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Lars Pedersen
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Sheridan Grout
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Twitter

 

 

Nicole Robertson – EDM TOR

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About Author

Nicole Robertson

Nicole remembers hearing Darude’s "Sandstorm" on the radio as a child, but didn't know back then that dance music would become such an important part of her life. She loves many genres under the EDM umbrella, but it is trance that has captured her heart. You can her dancing in the middle of the crowd at Beta Waterloo or The Hoxton, making friends with everyone.

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