Traditionally a day dedicated to drinking, this year St. Patrick’s Day also happened to fall on the one-year anniversary of Electric Star Productions (ESP)! With this impetus, and Club 120 hosting, ESP seized the opportunity to throw a green-themed bash celebrating both landmarks, which they appropriately named: Kiss Me I’m Raving! Old and new names graced the lineup, and promised a night that danced across several genres.
Although I arrived in time to catch only the tail end of John MacDonald‘s set, a friend caught me up on the opening act, describing it as “a solid hour-long set of fierce, unforgiving hard trance”. An odd choice to start the night, but I, for one, will never stand in the way of a good trance set. As a veteran of ESP parties, spinning for Euphoria as well as the Tranceformers party series, MacDonald quickly ramped up into those driving basslines and hard sounds, setting a high standard for the rest of the night.
Following him, Heersink began his B2B set with Cell Revival. Carrying the trance sound forward, these two DJs put their own spin on the genre, mixing in almost techno elements. The shift, through the set, moved from the more pure and hard trance of MacDonald to an almost progressive feel, keeping the beats going and everyone’s feet moving. While the club continued to fill and people moved between the venue’s two levels, greeting friends and checking out the Electric Leprechaun $4 drink special, the rhythm rippled through the crowd, drawing everyone to the dance floor.
Midnight and the first headliner, Marty McFly brought a shift in the night. Marty’s choppy breaks featured tracks like Power of Love – Huey Luis & The News and Walk the Dinosaur – Was Not Was. Breaking the trance spell that had been in place since the opener, the quick changes and bounciness of this set completely changed the musical flavour. While some found it jarring, most found a new burst of energy and found themselves dancing, gloving, or liquiding either on the dance floor or wherever they happened to be standing.
Around 1, Marty surrendered the decks to Tranzit, and MC Zee took up the mic alongside him. Opening with Show Me Love, a bit of an acoustic problem became evident as the genre transition from trance to drum n’ bass highlighted system tuning that overemphasized the treble. The difficulty with hosting a night with sets focusing on different genres is that sound systems are often tuned to favour a particular sound type, and it is difficult to establish a setting that processes all genres equally well. However, none of this seemed to bother the crowd, and the packed dance floor cheered its approval when engaged by Zee. Dropping some well received favourites like Reach (Push the Feeling) – Tantrum Desire, and some lesser known tracks, Tranzit kept the vibe going strong.
The second headliner of the night, Capital J, stepped to the decks next, accompanied by Killah MC. Diving deeper into the sound introduced by Tranzit, Capital J delivered an even more focused drum n’ bass set. Unfortunately, the sound system at Club 120 is less accustomed to D n’ B than other genres, and I went outside for an acoustic break. As last call came and went, the club slowly began to empty, but a surprising number were still present for the final set.
Highly anticipated, but held in reserve until the very end, those committed fans who had stayed long past last call finally, joyfully, gave it up for Velociraver and Tempest. Letting their colours show, happy hardcore fans, both old and newly-minted, proceeded to tear it up to tracks like Through the Darkness (Here With Me) – Micky Skeedale feat. Jenna, Feel Like This – Darren Styles & Gammer, and The Only One – Darren Styles. Trust ESP to keep the dance floor packed from beginning to end by book-ending a party with the two best sets of the night; those who stayed til the end were definitely not disappointed!
As the final set was winding down, I had an opportunity to study a unique piece of deco that had been set up upstairs; it was essentially a colourful poster board featuring 25 flyers for the 25 events that ESP has hosted since coming into existence. I had noticed it through the night, briefly, often overhearing snatches of conversation as various groups pointed out which events they had attended and compared notes with others on parties they had missed. It was nostalgic to see a visual reminder of ESP’s achievements and collaborations, and inspiring to see how these events had brought a community together. Known for throwing events that touch nearly every EDM genre, from the various iterations of Trance (classic/pure, Psytrance, hard trance), to Drum n’ Bass, to Happy Hardcore, ESP has made an effort to unite fans of each genre under the umbrella of our favourite activity – dance! – and, if Kiss Me I’m Raving was anything to judge by, their mission has been an absolute success!
Sadly, the final track – and then the final, final track – was played, and the night was closed with the old line, “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here”. Taking that cue, coats were fetched and goodbyes said, and the first chapter closed on a successful first year for ESP. The company has developed a solid reputation for a great atmosphere and commitment to good sound, and made a significant impact on the Toronto electronic music scene. It’s been an amazing journey, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for them!
Relive the party through this compilation video, courtesy of a good frind of #TeamEDMTOR Tim H., and be sure to like the ESP homepage to stay in the loop on their events!
DJ Capital J
Jade – EDM TOR