EDM Festivals Toronto

Multi-day EDM festivals in Toronto 2012

If there's anything recent posts about Toronto's EDM scene have confirmed, it's that the scene is not only thriving, it's varied and evolving, sustained by scads of die-hard fans and scene-supporters from the mainstream to the fringe.

And while some might tend to slight and slander mainstream promoters and artists, there remains a simple and unquestionable fact: historically, when EDM (electronic dance music) dominates the mainstream charts, the underground thrives and propagates too, giving rise to countless upstarts and renegades who bring colour and spontaneity to local scenes.

This doesn't mean we should give thanks on high for Ye Great and Merciful Mainstream. Rather, as consumers and creators of culture it's important to acknowledge that the field is never as narrow as we may want to believe.

Where last year Toronto didn't have a single multi-day Electronic music festival to it's name, this year it sports four and plays host to big talent at a number of all-day events, courtesy of some major home-grown and international promoters. Haters take note: Two of these multi-day festivals are products of Toronto's underground, taking cues from other successful, trend-setting ventures like Shambhala and Mutek. Add to that, they both happen on the same weekend, which makes July 13-15th the booming epicentre of EDM in Toronto this summer, what with Skrillex, Pretty Lights & Diplo also being in town for Full Flex.

In the name of seeing all the good Toronto has and continues to spawn, here is a rundown of multi-day festivals, which, whether we like it or not, will be doing their best to keep this town bumpin' over the next couple of months.

Digital Dreams | June 30 - July 1 | Ontario Place
Well, they did it. It was sittin' there, all wide-open-like and they nabbed it. Electronic/Nation (LiveNation's electronic offspring) goes after the Canada Day Weekend with its take on the Multi-Day EDM Festival. Honestly, the line-up is pretty impressive. And smart.

While the festival is clearly shooting for a more mainstream crowd, the acts are interesting enough to draw a keen audience, but not too well-known that Ontario Place would chance turning into Jersey Shore for a weekend (amirite?). Art Department, A-Trak, Dub Fire, AfroJack, and the one-and-only Ritchie Hawtin are among headliners, with so many others sharing the bill and lots of hometown support.

Why you should go: 5 different music stages for two full days of primo day partying on the best long weekend of the summer. Not to mention, the bumper boats and bouncy castle. Sure, organisers have yet to confirm whether they'll be open but one can always hope.

Drop Festival | July 13-15th | Various Venues
Local favourite among discerning bassophiles, cirQlar, is behind the inaugural presentation of Drop Festival. With a focus on home-grown bass producers, the festival will feature performances from a number of Canadians, both migrant and rooted firmly in true northern soil. iLL.Gates, GRiZ, Spiral, Kaminanda, Juno-nominated Adham Shaikh, and The Gulf Stream top the bill with a solid slew of local support from underground favourites. As well as nightly music events, partnering collectives will host playshops and seminars with local and international circus artists in association with the festival.

Why you should go: cirQlar says "No!" to bottle service & VIP. Known for supporting Toronto's fringe arts scene and having a fearless, fun-first approach to partying, they're big on deco, staging, high-flying circus acts, and cutting-edge bookings. If you like bass music and you're not too cool to have a good time, you won't want to miss their Friday night launch event.

Sound in Motion | July 13-15th | Various Venues
StudioFeed has answered the call for a Mutek-esque festival in Toronto. The non-profit arts collective doesn't mess around when it comes to ambition, aiming to "unlock the energy of the local music ecosystem in pursuit of a more supportive and collaborative music community." Odds are, they'll do it, too. The annual independent festival will celebrate artists, labels, promoters, fans, and other contributors, featuring film screenings and panel discussions, seminars and tech showcases - and of course - big, wicked jams. You'll find the likes of Sammy Dee, Dualism, Frivolous, John Roberts, Black Light Smoke, Billy Dalessandro leading the charge with local support from Murr (ft. Rosina), Arthur Oskan and Martin Fazekas and many others.

Why you should go: The SIM day party at Sugar Beach. But make sure you schedule time for a disco nap before heading out for their Saturday night main stage event. It's promising to be one of the most important nights of the summer in Toronto's EDM calendar.

Veld | Aug 4-5th | Downsview Park
It's big, alright. And they've definitely secured some of the biggest names in electronic music. Obviously, if you were going to deadmau5 shows back when he'd play Boxing Day sets while visiting the fam for the holidays, you may not be rushing out to hit Veld, which - let's face it - will be an absolute circus. Truly, Veld is not promising a boutique festival experience.

With Downsview Park offering a capacity of 40,000 and located a stone's throw from the 401 (and hopefully having resolved the issues behind its recent tragedy by then), it's easily accessible to the rest of the region and with the line up Ink has crafted, they'll have no problem getting the numbers. Not gonna lie, the aging raver in me can't help be a bit nostalgic and wonder: if I had the chance to go back and see influencial artists of my era over the course of one weekend - say, maybe, Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Aphex Twin, Sasha & Digweed - I think I would. Let it be said, those who think I'm comparing Aphex Twin to deadmau5 have missed the point entirely.

Why you should go: In a word, Bassnectar. And for the 4four's, Aviici, I guess? In all seriousness, Veld may speak the language of mainstream EDM consumers but for more distinguished tastes, it's a bucket-list thing that your future self might appreciate. You get to cross a bunch of artists off your list in one go, which, in 10-15 years, you'll probably be glad you did.

Writing by Naoise Hefferon / Photo by smuncky in the blogTO Flickr pool


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