EVENT REVIEW: True North Music Festival @ The International Centre 21-05-17

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This past Victoria day weekend found The International Centre playing host to the newest Canadian music festival: True North, a collaborative effort between Electric Escape and Solid Events. The festival hosted two stages, multiple genres, and nine hours of nonstop dance music. All of that seemed a bit daunting for one journalist to cover, so half of the EDM TOR team was present to keep notes and capture all aspects of the event from beginning to end. I had planned to arrive in time for doors open, but I ended up arriving just before 6PM. There didn’t seem to be much of a line to navigate but I attributed that to the earliness of the hour.

After I gained entrance to the venue, I noticed immediately was that the security presence was strong. I actually had to surrender (and essentially dismantle) my phone to prove I wasn’t hiding contraband. There were at least half a dozen uniformed police officers present inside the venue as well. Whether it was due to our proximity to the airport, venue protocol, an insurance necessity, or because it was an all ages event, I am not sure. At least we all knew that we were safe!

As I entered the main room of the event, I was first blown away by the production and set up. There were several visual screens, an impressive array of lasers, and a formidable speaker setup that all came together to deliver an outstanding visual and audio aesthetic. KRFW was playing some decent electro tracks, and while their music selection was a bit dirty for my taste, the entire crowd was eating it up. Deecee came on next, continuing the warm up with his signature style of mixing. He was laying it out thick on the crowd when I decided to head back to the side room.

When I got back to the Fusion stage, HNRSound was lighting up the room with a generous dose of pure trance. We were treated to James Dymond‘s Spectrum, Will Rees’ Persistence, and so many other amazing tracks before they closed with two of their own originals, Since You Been Gone and Psy Yo!. The Fusion stage room was obviously less robust than the main stage, but the vibe was more intimate, with pillars displaying visuals to the left and right of the DJ booth, and a large video screen behind the decks. I noticed that there was an echo reverberating against the back wall. I think if the room had been more populated for the warm-up sets, it could have been absorbed by the bodies.

I noticed the stage visualizations had changed to Somna but the music being played wasn’t his style. The last time I saw Somna was at a recent AVA Recordings U4RIA event that doused us exclusively in trance. This set was a mix of mainstream dance tracks with some trap and electro influences. I soon discovered that the act was actually TWINNS whom had played before I arrived to the venue. When Somna’s start time pushed back a smidge, TWINNS stepped up to fill in that space. This was my first experience with the duo who seem to have a pretty dedicated following as there were a number of people sporting their branded t-shirts. TWINNS and HNRSound were winners of a local support contest that the Electric Escape and Solid Events teams ran a few weeks earlier. A couple of notable tracks in their set were Scrub the Ground by Chocolate Puma and a remix of The White Stripes Seven Nation Army. I took a brief jaunt into the main room to see what Daijo was playing, and I caught some trap music going on. I found myself switching back and forth between the rooms in hopes of settling on a sound I could groove to. Our team took time to gather in the open area between the two rooms where it was more brightly lit, and slightly quieter, so we could discuss some of the notes we were taking down. We noticed that there was a noticeable sound bleed between the rooms (which could be frustrating when you’re trying to enjoy someone’s particular set) but it didn’t affect our enjoyment level at all. Security took no time to interrupt our discussion and us ask us to not congregate in the area, so we had to cut our talk short and disperse.

At 8PMSomna officially took the Fusion stage and brought forth the melodic trance sounds I was expecting to hear. His secret weapon mashup of Cosmic Gate‘s Yai, Temple One and Neev Kennedy‘s Love the Fear, and a Porter Robinson drop was played before fellow AVA Recordings artist Michele C briefly made an appearance for a live vocal performance of her track with Andy Moor, We Can Be Free and then sang one other track. After she finished, Somna laid out a few classic tracks, including his own mashup of Yang & Cari vs ATBFeel You Ecstasy.

Back in the main room, Moti had already started and was into a set with his known electro/trap sound. We were treated to an interesting array of tracks that started in with a remix of Linkin Park‘s Numb, then led into Daft Punk‘s Harder Better Faster Stronger, was followed by Blink 182‘s I Miss You, then ending up back into trap with MAKJ & Lil’ Jon‘s Let’s Get Fucked Up. I really enjoyed this interlude. A little familiarity goes a long way in a musical territory that is unfamiliar to me.

Super8 & Tab played one of my favourite sets of the entire night. They opened with their own MotorcycleRush (Super8 & Tab mashup) then transitioned into Fall Into You. The Armada and Anjuna sounds they’re well known for were welcomed by everyone present. Not a single person in the room was standing still when they played their track Mega. These two finnish DJs are always on point when they play sets in Toronto, and even our Manager Adele hasn’t missed a single appearance of theirs that she could make it to in close to a decade. Janne (DJ Tab) and Miika (Super8) even arranged her a VIP access pass so she could get more photos during their set at True North, to her delight. After they finished their set, they were spotted taking photos and singing autographs with fans that had been invited behind the gates.

A new act had taken to the main stage while I was over enjoying the Fusion one. I wandered back in just as Firebeatz played Wake Me Up by Avicii. I decided to head over to the bar to grab a drink. In a humorous misunderstanding, I ordered a Pommies hard apple cider but instead I was given a Palm Bay. Initially I was confused, but after I realized what had happened, I laughed harder than may have been appropriate at the simple miscommunication. The bartender was apologetic and quickly provided me with the correct beverage, which I was grateful for.

Ben Nicky‘s usual Heaf*ck style was in full swing when I returned to the Fusion stage again. Ben played some popular psy tracks like Great SpiritFree Tibet and others. At one point, I commented on how nobody had been dropping any Prodigy remixes when, as if on queue, the John Askew remix of Voodoo People started playing. It was a wicked set that drew the biggest crowd of the day for the Fusion stage. He played a lot of short cuts, mashups and remixes towards the end of his set and I found myself wishing he had the time for an extended set where he could play tracks in their entirety. Ben was kind enough to come over after his set to meet one of our writers, Ashlyn, who is a huge fan of his, and let her take a few photos with him. Commendable of him, since she has written several articles with him in them since she joined the team nearly two years ago.

Jordan Suckley opened with Surveillance, his collab with Kutski. He also played the Waio remix of Simon Patterson‘s Smack and then Patterson’s Apex. He also sampled in Eminem, played Cafe Del Mar, Tiesto‘s Traffic, and was the second artist of the night to play Motorcycle‘s As the Rush Comes. Sometimes it’s off-putting to hear the same song multiple times during one event, but I forgive it more readily when it’s one of my favourites like this one is. Jordan’s set was so incredible that I completely forgot to make it over to check out Ummet Ozcan at the main stage.

Datsik played that bass-heavy dubstep whilst wearing his light-up kasa hat. It seemed like a number of people came out almost exclusively for this set. He was putting on an incredible show for his fans while they went absolutely mental on the dance floor. An LED robot named A-BORG made an appearance in front of the stage playing with a smoke cannon, and later he was seen dancing in the crowd. It was at this point I noticed that there was a distinct lack of any kind of seating or chill out area, which meant a lot of people just sat right down on the dance floor when they needed a break. They mostly stayed out of the way, but some seating around the perimeter of both rooms might have gone a long way to preventing early exhaustion.

Code Black opened with his and Coone‘s hardstyle remix of Gareth Emery‘s Concrete Angel while, curiously, Dash Berlin simultaneously opened his set with a mix of Concrete Angel. The vibe at the main stage changed when the music transitioned into some Justin Bieber and various other Top 40 remixes, but it was a well received set from the crowd overall. By this point, the Fusion stage was left with just a handful of ravers. Code Black had a definite Defqon.1 vibe and played a mix of vocal hardstyle with just enough raw to make it interesting. On the other hand, Kutski played almost exclusively hardstyle and hard dance, with the addition of a Linkin Park track.

This was a wonderful event to attend, and it still had room to be even more so. The variety of artists that were there were entertaining and the lighting and other visuals were stunning, yet the attendance was low considering the 10,000 people that the venue could potentially have held. I had a lot of fun and am quite interested in seeing what the next event from Electric Escape will be in Toronto.

As always, check out the EDMTOR Facebook page for more photos from the event, courtesy of photographers Adele and Max.

PARTIAL TRACKLIST:
TWINNS
Chocolate Puma – Scrub The Ground
The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army (Remix)
Somna
Somna & Michele C – We Can Be Free
Somna, Yang & Cari vs Atb – Feel You Ecstasy
Super8 & Tab

Super8 & Tab vs. Motorcycle – Rush (Super8 & Tab mashup)
Super8 & Tab ft. Julie Thompson – No Frontiers
Armin Van Buuren ft. Jacqueline Goavert – Never Say Never
Super8 $ Tab – Mega
Super8 & Tab – Cosmo

Armin Van Buuren – I Live For That Energy
Super8 & Tab vs. Above & Beyond- Rubicon Moon (Super8 & Tab mashup)
Moti
Dj Snake – Propaganda w/ Justice vs Simian – We Are Your Friends (Acapella)
DVBBS – This Is Dirty
Linkin Park – Numb
Daft Punk – Harder Better Faster Stronger
Blink 182 – I Miss You
MAKJ & Lil’ Jon – Let’s Get Fucked Up
Firebeatz
Martin Garrix & Firebeatz vs Swedish House Mafia & Knife Party – Helicopter vs Antidote
Bingo Players – Bust This
Firebeatz vs Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams Bazooka
Avicii – Wake Me Up
Datsik
Datsik ft. Trinidad James – Tantrum
Zelda Lost Woods Remix
Ummet Ozcan
Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You
Ummet Ozcan – Raise Your Hands
Ummet Ozcan – Spacecats
Ben Nicky
Hilight Tribe – Free Tibet (Vini Vici Remix)
Mark Sixma & Emma Hewitt – Restless Hearts (Ben Nicky Remix)
Gareth Emery ft. Ben Gold – Until We Meet Again (Ben Nicky Remix)
Vini Vici & Ace Ventura – The Calling
Timmy Trumpet & Qulinez – Satellites (Marlo Remix)
Prodigy – Voodoo People (John Askew Remix)
Tiesto vs Eddie Bitar – Lethal Rollercoaster (Ben Nicky 140bpm Headf**k)
Skypatrol vs Oceanlab – Shut Up Satellite (Ben Nicky Mashup)
Jordan Suckley
Armin Van Buuren ft Ana Criado – I’ll Listen (John O’Callaghan Dark Mix)
Simon Patterson – Smack (WAIO Remix)
Tiesto – Traffic
Motorcycle – As The Rush Comes
Jordan Suckley & Kutski – Surveillance
Simon Patterson – Apex
Energy 52 – Cafe Del Mar
Dash Berlin
Alan Walker ft. Iselin Solheim – Faded (Dash Berlin Remix)
The Chainsmokers & Coldplay – Something Just Like This (Dash Berlin Remix)
Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling (Dash Berlin Remix)
Dash Berlin ft Jonathan Mendelsohn – Locked Out Of Heaven
Dash Berlin ft. Christina Novelli – Jar Of Hearts
Nari & Milani and Cristian Marchi – The Creeps 2016
Dash Berlin ft Vera Ostrova – Till The Sky Falls Down (Andrew Rayel Remix)

LINKS:
True North Music Festival
Website
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Instagram

Electric Escape
Website
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Instagram
Twitter

Solid Events
Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Scott Copeland – EDM TOR

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