EVENT REVIEW: Monkey Buzinezz Presents Trance Unity @ Circus 02-03-19

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This was my third year making the trip from Chicago to Montreal for Trance Unity.  I’ve been to several trance events in North America, but something about TU keeps me coming back – there’s nothing quite like it and every year, it gets better.  The 2019 edition of Trance Unity was by far the best edition in every regard. With their new lighting and effects setup, Monkey Buzinezz really improved their game. The vibe was set as the crowd was animated from the start, which can be tough to achieve for a 13 hour event.  As with the prior years, Trance Unity upheld its “no photo” policy, which helps everyone stay in the moment and enjoy the music rather than stand around taking pictures and videos.  The DJs like the policy because they have the freedom to play new unreleased material without having to worry about it being leaked on the internet.  Just like in years prior, Team EDMTOR has compiled a Trance Unity 2019 playlist! This can be found at the bottom of the article – feel free to click “play” and groove along to the tunes while reliving the experience!

As with past years, Trance Unity took place at Circus, a venue with just the right size and character for this type of event. Upon entering the venue, I was pleased to find that the coat check was free and the line to get in moved fairly quickly. Walking up the stairs to Circus is like stepping into another world. Ravers were greeted in the lobby by a merchandise booth and a 6 foot tall unicorn. Same as years prior, the venue was divided into three main rooms – Heaven, Hell and Earth – each showcasing a different side of trance. Since each room had its own lineup and vibe, I will talk about them separately from here.

HEAVEN

The ethereal Heaven Room was home to a stage of (mostly) uplifting artists, bathed in blue light and decorated with white feathers.  At the start of the night, it was also the only room with music. When I walked in, I immediately noticed that the lighting had been improved upon from previous years. The relaxing atmosphere of the Heaven Room was ideal for putting the trance fans in the right mood for the rest of the event.

Trance Unity veteran Karl K-Otik kicked off the night, playing a nice blend of progressive and trance. Songs like Andain’s Beautiful Things and the Markus Schulz big room remix of Letting You Go (Greece 2000) by Three Drives helped set the mood. Although it was just the start of the night, Karl had the whole room moving.  Although he played newer songs as well, he wasn’t afraid to grab older gems such as Someone Like You by Linnea Schossow. Karl K-Otik’s tasteful selection of songs got the crowd excited but didn’t wear them out either. I wandered around to get my bearings of the layout and noticed the swings had returned! There were five swings suspended from the ceiling in a space connected to the Heaven Room and I imagine most attendees tried them out at one point during the event,  including the EDMTOR team.


At 11:30PM, it was time for Monoverse.  Head of the Parallels imprint on the Future Sound of Egypt label, Monoverse specializes in the more progressive styles of trance.  As expected, his set was full of emotional songs with wonderful melodies, perfect for an early set (although it was midnight) and the crowd was super into it!  He threw in more well-known tracks such as 4 Strings’ Take Me Away to great effect but also played a wealth of exciting unreleased songs. This was Monoverse’s first time playing at Trance Unity and the American artist was welcomed with grateful dancing.

At 1AM, Sied Van Riel made his return appearance to TU, sporting a high energy trance set. Sied is an accomplished producer who showcased many of his own productions and remixes, including a stunning remix of Tiesto’s classic Traffic.  Another crowd favourite was the Smith & Brown remix of his own Atomic Blonde which really got people jumping.  Heaven was crowded for most of the night but the trance fans did a good job of respecting each other’s space when it came to dancing. At this point in the night, Heaven was packed with fans of uplifting trance.


It was
Craig Connelly‘s turn when the clock struck 2:30AM. 
Craig’s
set was melodic but fast-paced at the same time.  He brought his full feels-inducing repertoire of vocal trance including How Can I  ft. Jessica Lawrence,  This Life ft. Roxanne Emery, and the recently released track Waterfall  ft. Alex Holmes. Larger than life melodies like Solarstone‘s Jewel filled the room and you could see a smiles on everyone’s face.  A group of ladies in VIP completely lost their minds when Craig dropped Black Hole, his famous collaboration with Christina Novelli.  Their reaction was so intense that you could hear their screaming over the music!


After Mr. Connelly finished to a cheering crowd, Subculture boss John O’Callaghan was welcomed to the stage by a packed room. It was 4AM and JOC began a two-hour journey that ranged from uplifting and euphoric to the hard and dirty. From the first song, you could feel the anticipation in the room. Fans left their swings and made their way to the dance floor. With it being the Heaven-themed room and all, John began his set with uplifting gems like the Giuseppe Ottaviani remix of his own song Out of Nowhere ft. Josie.  As the pure tone of Josie’s vocals filled the room, I could see people raise their hands to the ceiling and close their eyes in pure trance bliss. Although JOC can uplift with the best of them, he also has a darker side, which showed through songs like The Forging of Steel and the always popular John Askew remix of Stresstest. And, of course, he threw in Big Sky which, to no surprise, was a big hit with the crowd.

At 6AM, the other half of Key 4050 made his way behind the decks. Bryan Kearney hit us straight away with his ultra-heavy tech mix of his track All Over Again (Kearney Dark Dub). He soon brought us back to heaven with a few uplifters before diving into a couple of tracks from his newly released “Tales From the Temple” record, a collaborative project with John O’Callaghan under the name Key 4050. Bryan took us all straight to heaven when he played his bootleg of Armin van Buuren‘s Burned with Desire ft Justine Suissa. It was a magical moment being in a room full of people who were singing along! Aside from the more well-known songs, Bryan threw in a slew of newer material, some of which is currently unreleased. Whether new material or old gems, Bryan constructed his set tastefully and the crowd reaction was positive all of the way through.

The next master to enter the Heaven Room was Darren Porter. No stranger to Trance Unity, Darren knew just how to keep the momentum of the night going. Although it was after 7:30AM, you’d never know it by looking at those on the dance floor. He played mostly his own songs like Deep Blue, Inertia and Human, the later being a song that possesses a strong driving quality but uplifts the listener at the same time. Tunes like that are what the Heaven room is made for. While some danced frantically to Darren’s rolling basslines, others preferred to let the music take their mind to a different dimension altogether.

At 9AM, it was time for the artist that was closing out the event, James Dymond. The fact that so many people were still up and dancing after such a long night is testament to the resiliency of the trance community. James was all about the essence of trance: airy melodies and driving basslines. A producer with a countless number of amazing songs, he had plenty of originals and remixes to choose from.  Originals like Stay, Black Mirror and Push had just the right trance flavour to keep us going through the final hours of the morning. He even put his own spin on classics such as Veracocha‘s Carte Blanche. His set was so full of energy and emotion that it kept people engaged until the very end.

HELL

Cloaked in red, the Hell Room exuded an ominous aura. Chains were suspended from the ceiling.  LED flames were scattered around the room and huge fans blasted air onto the dance floor. The darker, more progressive vibes and red lights were a stark contrast to the blue lights and airy melodies of the heaven room. Over the years, the Hell Room has been featured artists from Mark Sherry’s label, Outburst, one of the top tech trance labels in the world.  This year, Trance Unity went a step further and made the Hell Room a complete Outburst takeover!  Needless to say, I was excited for what was in store for the Hell Room this year.

Tomac got things started at 11:30PM and the warm bass pulsated throughout the room. We heard songs like Matt Fax‘s To The Ground and the Camelphat remix of Paul Woolford‘s Hang Up Your Hangups. Tomac’s moody progressive sound enticed people into Hell as they wandered around the venue upon entering. It was the perfect way to open up the Hell Room and prepare everyone for the madness that was to ensue.

Next up at 1AM was Tempo Giusto, a mainstay on the Outburst label. The vibe in the room immediately changed once he was on stage. The heat of the music began to rise as the journey to the depths of Hell began. Tempo’s hard thumping techno and tech trance vibes had the whole room moving. He played a number of unknown ID’s as well as newly released tracks of his like the hard-hitting Dopamine. When they weren’t getting down to the infectious rhythms of the drops, they were enjoying the epic breakdowns that he is known for.


Mark Sherry
, true to himself, played a hard, dark, techy set. Starting at 3AM, the first hour or so of his set was straight hard techno. His mixing flow was exactly the one of an old school hard techno DJ although he played a significant amount of new material such as Confirm Humanity and songs from his latest album of the same title. The way he puts emphasis on the kicks, the banging transitions, the beat-juggling, the energetic fade outs… even his tech-trance or more trance-y tunes could be played at a hard techno rave because his mixing actually makes it sound so.  The amount of energy in the room was unreal! Mark would climb on top of the DJ booth to hype the crowd up during breakdowns.  There was something in his set for both old school fans and newer ones as well. The night was in full swing, but I found myself a little hungry.  Luckily, our VIP pass included food benefits. Every hour or so, a free fruit platter was added to the VIP areas of the event with enough variety to keep us energized throughout the night. Much needed!


After Mark Sherry finished destroying the room, it was time for trance legend Richard Durand, who was coming straight from his classics set in the Earth Room. Mark Sherry is a tough act to follow but Richard was superb at keeping the energy up and the fans engaged. He knew just the right songs to play. The fact that he could play such a thoughtful classics set then play in a completely different style 15 minutes later is a testament to his flexibility as a trance DJ! At 6AM, he started off his set throwing some uplift into the mix with his recent Tune of the Year The Air I Breathe, followed by his remix of Armin Van Buuren’s Wild Wild Son. And then it was like a switch flipped and all hell broke loose. The energy level dialled up with hard-hitting beats and dirty, heavy bass. The dance floor was electric; Richard was feeding off that energy and giving it straight back.


Last but certainly not least, at 8AM it was time for Lostly to close out the Hell Room. With a slew of releases on the Outburst label, Lostly’s style fit right in with the vibe of the night. A relentless barrage of hard drops and blazing synths filled the room. He would seamlessly switch between tech and psy trance. The Hell Room was the perfect place for him to bang out some Lost In Noise tracks (his project with Indecent Noise) like the Cosmic Spirit which filled the room with acidic synth lines. The crowd loved the hard, raw sound so Lostly kept hitting them with bangers like the Lost In Noise remix of Junk Pilot‘s Braintool, causing those in the room to use the last bit of their energy dance until they couldn’t anymore.

EARTH

This year, the Earth Room was the home of trance classics. Interesting enough, Earth was actually located above the Heaven Room! After ascending the stairs from Heaven, the world changed from blue to green. The speakers were decorated with flowers and gave off a calming vibe. Trees and other plants in the room added to the earthy theme.  This room gave a chance for the local DJs on the lineup to shine. Although the other rooms tended to fill up quickly, there was always space to dance in the Earth Room and people didn’t waste any time taking advantage of.

First up on the decks was Montreal-based artist JCP playing a groovy opening set. Although the room opened up later at 1AM, it felt more like the night was just beginning as people slowly made their way to the Earth Room for the first time. JCP played some older jams like Celeda‘s Be Yourself Part Two (Danny Tenaglia remix) which had people steadily grooving to the beat. Like any good opening set, there was a gradual progression and increase in energy. Whether it was Hymn 2.0 by Sander Van Doorn‘s Purple Haze alias, or the old W&W tracks, the crowd loved what he was playing. This was the perfect place to pull out rare classics like the Tiesto remix of Papillon by Editors, which not only got the crowd amped up but set the tone for the rest of the night in Earth.


Throughout the night, the Earth Room was steadily filled with people showing their appreciation for the trance songs of old.  At 2:30AM, Kris Morton followed the vibe that JCP established. I have had the pleasure of seeing Morty play at several events I have made it to in Canada, and he’s always been on point. In Earth, we all could feel the nostalgia fill the room when he played old gems like his opening track, Hartseer by Bart Claessen. We also were treated to Insigma‘s Open Our Eyes and the En-Motion remix of Surreal by Free Radical. There’s nothing like the old school trance sound and Morton took everyone on a journey back in time.  I could tell he put his heart and soul into this set, and I bet the rest of the crowd felt it as well.

Before you knew it, 3:30AM rolled around and one of trance’s great legends, Richard Durand, was behind the decks. Durand’s In Search Of Sunrise classics set was one of the most anticipated performances of this year’s Trance Unity, and for good reason. A true veteran of the trance music industry, Richard was the perfect choice for a classics set and he wasted no time getting to the good stuff, starting off with Gabriel and Dresden‘s timeless remix of Andain‘s Beautiful Things. Durand was all smiles, dancing and saying hello to thrilled fans and friends. It was late in the night (or early in the morning, ha!) and his energy was another level entirely. While it is impossible to capture the incredible energy flowing through the Earth Room during that set, you can re-live its musical perfection anytime as it was the only set recorded during the event:


The party in the Earth Room continued with Carl Müren taking the stage at 5:30AM. With the shortest set time of the event, Carl came out firing with tasteful classics like Push‘s Universal Nation. From there, he went to some more progressive classics like Plastic Boy‘s Silver Batha song that hasn’t received a ton of play in the recent years and the crowd was pleased to hear the less popular classics like that one. When you have a room dedicated to trance classics, it’s important to keep things fresh and Carl did just that. One of my favourite moments was when he dropped Tomorrow by Cosmic Gate, one of their older, harder songs. It was a huge surprise for me since I rarely hear anyone play it!

DJ Ross‘ set was different from the other classics sets in this room. It was a high energy blast-from-the-past that traded uplifting and airy melodies for hard hitting underground sounds. This wasn’t your average classics set and those in the room were pleased to experience a performance that showcased classics that were less well known. Early tech songs like Time Is Running Out by Marcel Woods caught people off guard and soon, the whole room was going hard.


The 2019 edition Trance Unity was a great success! Monkey Buzinezz put together a night full of exhilarating and vibrant DJ sets from start to finish. They kicked things up a notch this year in terms of production quality and everyone in attendance appreciated it. Events aren’t just about big names; big bookings can be irrelevant to a good turnout on the dance floor. We have seen it many times – a great event is about great music, great people, and a team who can arrange it all to go smoothly. Special thank you to Monkey Buzinezz, Circus Afterhours, all of the artists who played, and all of the people who attended, for making the event incredible for the fifth year in a row!

The Team EDMTOR Trance Unity 2019 Playlist:

 

LINKS:

John O’Callaghan
Website
Facebook
Bryan Kearney
Website
Facebook
Craig Connelly
Website
Facebook
Darren Porter
Website
Facebook
James Dymond
Facebook
Monoverse
Website
Facebook
Sied Van Riel
Website
Facebook
Karl K-Otik
Website
Facebook
Mark Sherry
Website
Facebook
Richard Durand
Website
Facebook
Tempo Giusto
Website
Facebook
Lostly
Facebook
Soundcloud
Tomac
Website
Facebook
Tempo Giusto
Facebook
Soundcloud
Kris Morton
Website
Facebook
JCP
Soundcloud
Monkey Buziness
Website
Facebook
Trance Unity
Event Page

 

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About Author

Luc Mosley

Most of the EDM TOR team hails from the GTA, but for one. Luc writes for the team while living in the city of Chicago, IL, where he is a biomedical engineer by day and a musician by night. You may meet Luc on one of his trips to attend a trance event in Toronto or Montreal, or at a major music festival somewhere on earth.

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