EVENT REVIEW: Markus Schulz, Aly & Fila, and Ruben de Ronde b2b Estiva @ REBEL 15-11-19

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It had been a while since we’d seen a real solid trance production on stage at Rebel, but Ink Entertainment recently delivered an incredible all-star lineup! Coldharbour boss and infamous “unicorn-slayer” Markus Schulz was joined by Future Sound of Egpyt architects Aly & Fila, along with a special back-to-back set from Ruben de Ronde and Estiva of Statement! Music. Support was provided by Toronto’s own Deecee warming up the crowd like no other. It wasn’t originally in the cards for me to go to Rebel that night. When the lineup was released, I knew this was going to be an incredible party; however, I had committed to reviewing Oliver Smith in London, ON the following night. I also knew I would be seeing all of these artists at the Amsterdam Dance Event in October so I was prepared to let this one go and be responsible and be well-rested for the following night. That was until the opportunity to review came up. There was no way I could turn this down, so I packed up a fresh pair of dancing shoes and headed to the GO bus. 

We arrived at Rebel as early as possible to make sure to catch Deecee’s opening set as well as to try and avoid line ups. Anyone who’s ever been to Rebel in the wintertime knows what it is like to wait in that line out in the cold and it is not a fun experience. Moving that many people through security and into the venue is certainly a challenging task and I was pleased to see a large heated tent outdoors to help keep people out of the cold. Getting inside took next to no time as we arrived right as the club opened. It was kind of a surreal experience, being one of the first inside. I had never seen Rebel when it is empty and it was really incredible to be able to take a step back and appreciate how much careful design and planning had clearly gone into this club. I have been here many times over the years through its various incarnations and it truly is a beautiful spot boasting plentiful lasers, video screens, a central moving LED light installation surrounded by a wrap-around balcony to watch from above. For the evening, the coat check was moved to a heated outdoor tent off the back patio which offers a gorgeous view of the city skyline over the shore of Lake Ontario. 

When we finally settled inside the club, Deecee was tearing it up behind the decks and a crowd was beginning to form on the dance floor.  The first track I heard was Oliver Smith’s Lovingly; an odd coincidence since I was slated to review Ollie’s show the following night. I recognized it instantly as the Meramek remix, one of my favourite tracks from “Anjunabeats Worldwide 08” that I listened to incessantly when it was first released. He followed this up with the night’s debut and its first incarnation of Camelphat’s Breathe (spoilers). The club was filling up fast. I walked over to the bar to grab a drink and when I returned I had to squeeze through a group of people to reclaim my spot on the dance floor. We took this opportunity to move up to the front before the crowd got too thick. Deecee did a great job of setting the vibe and getting the crowd moving with his selection of fresh Anjuna tracks and classics from Armin Van Buuren’s “Club Embrace” album. 

It was almost time. The moment I had been waiting for. No, not the headliners (although I was pumped for them too), but Ruben de Ronde and Estiva. I had been looking forward to this b2b all day. When I saw those two beautiful Dutch giants poke their heads out from behind the decks, I squealed like a tween fangirl. Ruben opened the night with a tease of his track with LTN and Kimberly Hale, Moment of Truth. I recognized the vocal line as it echoed and transformed into something completely new. They opened their Tomorrowland b2b set this year the same way and I feel like it was a perfect way to add a little mystery and intrigue before diving into what was expected, having both released new albums within the last 6 months. I have listened to Estiva’s newest release, “Metamorphoses”, a few times now and really enjoyed the progressive space vibes; however, live and within the context of a collaborative set, the tracks were completely transformed. The bass was heavy and driving. I could feel it in my chest. My feet refused to stand still. Ruben also played a few tracks from his own 2019 release, “Different”, but held back the more uplifting tracks to maintain the vibe set by Estiva’s tracks. “Metamorphoses” really takes Estiva’s trademark melodic, progressive sound and brings in a darker vibe and an element of tech. Ruben preserved this moody atmosphere with tracks like Key4050’s remix of his track Fade Away With Me. These two bounced off one another flawlessly, maintaining a super cohesive set from start to finish. As you can see from the tracklist below, this set really felt like an album showcase with Estiva dropping 7 of the 13 tracks from “Metamorphoses”. Even so, when Ruben followed up with a vocal track it never felt out of place and this is what made this set so special – that feeling of unity on stage when two artists integrate so seamlessly. Their set was a glorious but too short; a hour and a half in which they threw in a few IDs. Estiva played an ID I first heard as his opening track at the Statement! Music party at ADE, a progressive trance version of Pink Floyd’s prog-rock anthem Another Brick In The Wall. We also heard the night’s second iteration of Camelphat’s Breathe, this time presented in conjunction with Ruben’s track Lucky Penny. As I expected, they closed out their set with one of my favourites of last year. Ruben and Estiva’s collaboration, Rainbow, is an absolute beacon of pure joy and a perfect way to close out the night. Except the night was just getting started. 

As the outro droned I saw a new arrival behind the decks; a face I’d recognize anywhere. A chorus of chants broke out across the crowd, “Fadi! Fadi!”, and it was time to delve into the Future Sound of Egypt with Aly & Fila. If I’m being completely honest, every time I see Aly & Fila I get completely lost. Something happens and I am transported to a completely different plane of existence. Even when I have no idea what track is playing (as you can see by my meager attempt at a tracklist) there is something that resonates deep inside me and I can truly let my heart soar as my body responds to the rhythmic backdrop. The beats of Ruben and Estiva’s outro began to shift and the melody of Stan Kolev and Paul Denton’s track Revelations kicked in. Our journey starts here with a showcase of the progressive side of FSOE, exhibiting tracks from Paul Thomas’ run sublabel UV. Even the progressive releases, I find, are beautiful and melodically driven in a way that no other label captures. This was truly evidenced by some of the next few tracks to come. This also, however, was the time of night when the IDs started to flow and my tracklist became sparse so you are just going to have to use your imagination. All I can say is that Fadi took us on a journey in exactly the way he does best and I was absolutely mesmerized.

It wasn’t long before the bpm began to pick up and my heart began to race. Among the IDs, a chance Shazam picked up a brand new Chris Schweizer track confirmed by the man himself as slated for release in two weeks time. I danced hard, trying to live vicariously through this single track, having sadly missed his set at Genesis in Markham last month. About a half-hour into the set we started to delve into the new album, “It’s All About The Melody”, slated for release prior to the end of the month. Looking at the tracklist for this album, it is absolutely packed with pure melodic mastery (hence the title, I guess) and he truly brought that to the dance floor Friday night. There was an air of excitement and anticipation when Fadi dropped this year’s FSOE anthem, Sands of Time, and it built to crescendo leading into their new record’s title track, It’s All About The Melody. Up on stage, Fadi was handling the decks like the professional he is. Every move is calculated and meaningful. He always appears to be so intensely focused yet at the same time, completely at ease. We make our way through a few more tracks from the new release including a vocal stunner, I Won’t Let You Fall, featuring the vocal talents of the incomparable queen of trance vocals, JES, followed by the incredibly beautiful melodic gem, Te Espero Aqui. Soon it came to that part of the night I had been waiting for when the euphoria hits its peak and the music completely consumes my body, mind and my heart. My eyes are welling up with joyful tears as my arms are raised to the sky and my spirit is uplifted. Aly & Fila’s incredible collaboration with Vancouver’s The Noble Six, Moonlit, is the track that takes me over the edge. Moments like these are what, I think, trance is really about. For me, it’s usually uplifting that gets me, but it doesn’t always have to be. Whatever resonates with you personally. Whatever you get lost in. Whatever pulls you out of reality allows you to lose yourself in space and time, even if only for a second. And that second was indeed fleeting, as a few tracks later Fadi was wrapping up with Plumb’s Somebody Loves You (Aly & Fila Remix). If I learned anything from this night it’s that an hour and a half is not long enough for the journey that Aly & Fila has the ability to take us on. Fadi, if you are reading this, Toronto needs an open-to-close. Markus gave us one in September, but we need one from you too. 

Everything went quiet, but only for a short moment. The bass drum kicked in and the anticipation began to build. “Toronto… how you feeling!?”. The crowd erupted into a chorus of cheers! Markus Schulz has taken his rightful place behind the decks. The epic intro interlude grew, culminating in the Blasterjaxx remix of this year’s A State of Trance anthem, Lifting You Higher. The beats are being thrown fast and hard and the dance floor is responding the way it does best. Markus dives right into his trademark mashups and it isn’t long before I hear the increasingly familiar sound of Camelphat’s Breathe, this time in conjunction with Artento Divini’s Overall Phased. I’ve never really noticed how versatile this track is until this night, hearing it pop up in three completely different styles of sets in three completely different manifestations. Most of his mashups throughout the night are ones we’ve seen before; a handful at his September open-to-close at Seventy-Seven in Hamilton, but early on in his set he threw down a heavy, high-energy version of The Weeknd’s Can’t Feel My Face. I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what that mashup is, so if anyone knows I would love to fill in the blanks on my setlist. After a short foray into the world of Canadian pop music, Markus dove headfirst back into trance seamlessly blending new tracks with classics and keeping us on our toes, never quite knowing what to expect next. Along the way, he took us on an expedition through his full roster with tracks like The New World and We Are The Light, as well as collaborations such as Loops & Tings with Ferry Corsten, and Mainhattan with Talla 2XLC. He took a short break from hard-hitting kicks and pummeling bass for a moment of heavenly beauty with his and Haliene’s version of Ave Maria, a release from earlier this year in honour of his late mother.

After the first hour and a half, things began to change. The melodies got darker. The bass got dirtier. The dance floor was losing it. We were spiraling out of control down the rabbit hole with the unicorn slayer leading the way. Chaos ensued. I lost command of my entire body and was a slave to the beats. I don’t usually find myself getting swept up by techno, but it was mesmerizing. I lost all sense of time, and for a stretch, have absolutely no idea what he was playing or for how long. When we finally came out the other side it was nearly 5AM. Veracocha’s Carte Blanche snapped me back to reality. Markus played late into the night, well past the posted closing time. My body was sore and tired but he ended the night hitting us with a barrage of updated classics including Armin Van Buuren’s Communication (Arkham Knights Remix), Vincent De Moor’s Fly Away (Khomha Remix) and Tiesto’s Traffic (Arkham Knights Remix). He closed out the night with his 2014 vocal stunner, Destiny, featuring the talents of American pop singer Delacey


Walking out of Rebel into the night, a rush of cold air hit me immediately, but I was prepared for it. I had been dancing almost non-stop since the time I walked in the door 7 hours earlier. Each artist inspired my feet to keep on moving regardless of how long a night it had been. We are so fortunate to have such an incredible host of talented world-class DJs pass through our city but when a line-up like this shows up, it is truly a gift.

If you couldn’t make it out, check out the tracklist below for a better picture of what that night had to offer.

Partial Tracklist:

DeeCee

Oliver Smith – Lovingly (Meramek Remix)
Camelphat – Breathe (Eric Prydz Remix)
Tinlicker – Nothing Without You
Armin Van Buuren – Mirage (Martijn Ten Velden Remix)
Oxia – Domino (Rework)
BBE – Seven Days and One Week (Yotto Remix)
Ben Bohmer- Ground Control
Ilan Bluestone – Will We Remain (Spencer Brown Remix)
Armin Van Buuren feat. Gabriel & Dresden – Zocalo (THNK Remix)
Andrew Meller – Insomnia
Felix Krocher – Provident (Victor Ruiz Remix)

Ruben de Ronde b2b Estiva

Ruben de Ronde, LTN, Kimberly Hale – Moment of Truth (ID Remix)
ID- ID
Estiva – Icarus
Gareth Emery & Standerwick feat. Haliene – Saving Light (Ruben de Ronde Remix)
Estiva – Kosmos
Ruben de Ronde & Rodg & Louise Rademakers – Riptide (Solid Stone Remix)
Estiva – Sirin
ID – ID
Estiva – T.R.I.P
Ruben de Ronde & PROFF ft. Deirdre McLaughlin  – Fade Away With Me (Key4050 Remix)
Estiva – Sequence
Ruben de Ronde & Haliene – The Hardest Part
Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall (ID Remix)
Ruben de Ronde & Elevven – Lucky Penny vs. Camelphat & Cristoph ft. Jem Cooke – Breathe
Ruben de Ronde & Rodg & Estiva – Intergalactic vs. Armin Van Buuren – Blah Blah Blah
Estiva – Morpho vs. Energy 52 – Cafe Del Mar (Tale of Us Renaissance Remix)
Cosmic Gate – Fire Wire (Andrew Bayer Remix)
Estiva – Carousel
Ruben de Ronde & Estiva – Rainbow

Aly & Fila

Stan Kolev & Paul Denton – Revelations
Paul Thomas – Allegro
Some FSOE UV – IDs
Chris Schweizer – ID
ID – ID
Aly & Fila – Sands of Time (FSOE 600 Anthem)
Aly & Fila – It’s All About The Melody
Denis Horvat feat. Lelah – Noise (Greg Downey Remix)
Aly & Fila ft. JES – I Won’t Let You Fall
Aly & Fila – Te Espero Aqui
Aly & Fila – Come Home
ID – ID
Aly & Fila Vs. The Noble Six – Moonlit
Aly & Fila, Karim Youssef, Photographer – Laily (Photographer Remix)
Plumb – Somebody Loves You (Aly & Fila Remix)

Markus Schulz

Armin Van Buuren – Lifting You Higher (Blasterjaxx Remix)
Gareth Emery vs. Hilight Tribe  – Laserface 01 (Aperture) vs. Free Tibet (Markus Schulz vs. Arkham Knights Remix)
Solis & Sean Truby – Lizard
Artento Divini vs. Camelphat & Cristoph ft. Jem Cooke – Overall Phased Breath (Markus Schulz Mashup)
Arkham Knights – Existence
The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face (ID Mashup)
Orjan Nilsen & Denis Sheperd & Nifra & Estiva – Cabin Fever
Coyu & Bastian Bux vs. Age Of Love vs. Markus Schulz pres. Dakota – The Age Of Desire Walks With Cafe Del Mar (Markus Schulz Mashup)
Atlantis – Fiji (ReOrder Remix)
Markus Schulz & Talla 2XLC – Mainhattan
Markus Schulz feat. Haliene – Ave Maria (Festival Mix)
Markus Schulz & Ferry Corsten – Loops & Tings
Ian Van Dahl – Castles In The Sky (MarLo Remix)
Maor Levi & OTIOT – Bandana
Markus Schulz feat. Nikki Flores – We Are The Light (Artento Divini Remix)
Talla 2XLC feat. Pay &White – Storm
Mark Sixma vs. T99 – Anastasia
Markus Schulz – The New World (Mark Sherry Remix)
Mosimann & Leandro DeSilva vs. Fragma – Miracle Horizon (Markus Schulz Mashup)
OC & Verde – Mondoshawan
Mark Sixma – Sinfonia
DJ Sammy & Yanou ft. Do – Heaven (Dave Neven Remix)
W&W & Maurice West – Matrix (Markus Schulz Big Room Reconstruction)
Push – Universal Nation (Bart Skils Remix)
Arkham Knights – Knightvision
Dave Sinner & Pleasurekraft – Alien Body Double
Tiesto vs. Traversable Wormhole – Lethal Traversing (Markus Schulz Mashup)
Mike EFEX — Bx8
Mauro Picotto & Riccardo Ferri – New Time New Place (New World Punx Remix)
ANNA & Miss Kittin – Forever Ravers
Beico & MT93 – Let There Be Dark
Cosmic Gate – Fire Wire (Cosmic Gate’s Back 2 The Future Remix)
Viper – Titty Twister (Jam El Mar Remix)
Veracocha – Carte Blanche (Khomha Remix)
Tiesto – Traffic (Arkham Knights Remix)
Meduza – Piece Of Your Heart (ID Remix)
Markus Schulz & Jochen Miller – Rotunda (Dave Nevens Remix)
Vincent De Moor – Fly Away (Khomha Remix)
Three Drives – Carrera 2 (Rub!k Remix)
Arkham Knights vs. Artento Divini – Afterworld Hypercube (Markus Schulz Mashup)
Cosmic Gate & Foret – Need To Feel Loved
Markus Schulz – Remember This (Mark Sherry Remix)
Armin Van Buuren – Communication (Arkham Knights Remix)
Markus Schulz feat. Delacey – Destiny (Markus Schulz Big Room Reconstruction)

LINKS:

Event Page

Ink Events
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Markus Schulz
Website
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Youtube
Soundcloud
Instagram

Aly & Fila
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SoundCloud
Instagram

Ruben de Ronde
Website
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Soundcloud
Instagram
Twitch

Estiva
Website
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Soundcloud
Instagram

DeeCee
Facebook
Instagram
Soundcloud

 

Anna Middleton – EDM TOR

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