(all photos cred: ded agency)

Immersed in the natural beauty of Hanlan’s Point, thousands of revellers came through to celebrate Canada’s birthday at this season’s second installment of Electric Island. The Island did not disappoint.

Exceptional production, blazing sun, full crowd and superb acts made the day memorable. The new and notably resplendent circular main stage, with its distinct lighting, took the event to another level. That theme resonated as I walked through the grounds - Electric Island is continually evolving and elevating, year after year.

(photos: ded agency)

This year, with the next level attendance, what was particularly noticeable was the time it took to get from one stage to the other. It’s a fun game - bouncing along, perhaps inadvertently into people because it’s justifiably packed, inevitably seeing that friend you haven’t seen in forever. Stopping for a chat. Continuing through to the curated food vendors, resting under a lit tree (hehe *eye roll) with dream catchers, chromatic cubes and other decor. Then flowing naturally (i.e. randomly weaving) into the Hippie Market, with its colourful clothing made by local designers where you happen to get lost in chats while browsing the bikinis, jewelry and tops. Then you remember you were trying to get to the other stage. Onward the journey continues, thwarted again by friends, friendly strangers, games en route, the misting station, a photo op at the iconic Electric Island letters. Focus. Must focus. Finally you arrive. But first a drink. And shade - find the trees. Oh right, the stage. Eventually you get there but the fun’s in the journey, no?

(photo: ded agency)

The Moog Audio Stage was set in front of a beautifully lit, picturesque tree that naturally blended into the island vibe. Once again, this stage proved a destination in its own right. Jeremy Stott offered deep, layered techno, building on solid opening sets by Andy Cue and Brian Johnson. Jade seamlessly took over the packed crowd with an organic, deeply groovy vibe that had the party locked and moving together. These are the moments where you feel the island’s magic - where the music, vibe, atmosphere, surroundings, weather, people and artistry all come together. Each artist added to that layer, building moments - like vibes congealing into more magic. After a warm round of appreciation for Jade, Robert Babicz’ introductory soundscape was rich, textured and promised an epic ride. It became a masterful journey of nuanced techno, melodic groove with emotional undertones, wavy frequencies that enveloped us with harmonic accents, and occasional, yet powerful vocals - powerful not only in inflection, but in their affirming message. Imagine the sun setting, crowd in sync, vibe thick and a sound shaman dishing out unforgettable soul moments. That was my Babicz experience.

(photos: ded agency)

As a side note, Babicz can see sound and it was amazing to watch him in action, likely seeing the colours and geometry of frequencies as he was performing. You can check out our interview here.

Back in time, over to the main stage and the early midday heat... After a groovy opening set by Simon Jain, Billy Kenny kicked it up a couple notches with a hard and heavy, at times deeper set that provided the sonic landscape for mid-afternoon arrivals. Next, Jackmaster’s groovier take merged into industrial percussiveness at points - it was an eclectic sea of techno to driving tech house to vocal house and seemingly everything in between. The sun was glorious(ly hot), anticipation high and energy in the crowd electric. As The Martinez Brothers took the helm, we gelled - it felt as though people had arrived and were settled in for the ride which reflected musically and vibe-wise. The Bros’ fun, groovy, funky tech house unified the dance floor to a coherent bounce as we collectively danced into golden hour. As night descended, offering its natural shade, the main stage and lights became even more of a focal point. By then, it was ANNA time.

(photos: ded agency)

The Brazilian techno maestro took us to town, church, the vortex - whatever you want to call it, she destroyed the island. From the first beat, her energy was palpable and dynamic. She gave us intense, driving techno, with depth and variety, showcasing her versatility within the genre. I’ll just say she was the boss of me and I didn’t mind. I wasn’t the only one. She was in tune with the crowd. Optically, the festival stage looked far from us compared to a club booth, but she made the distance irrelevant, so in truth it felt close. She took us on an odyssey. Between ANNA and Robert Babicz, Island-goers were treated to two distinct and incredibly powerful closing sets by masters of their craft.

(photo: ded agency)

To see the view from mainstage, from ANNA’s perspective as she posted the next day on her Instagram, the magnitude of where the Island has come was evident. The crowd was massive, excitement tangible and overall production impressive. If I didn’t know it was Toronto, I would have thought it was a major festival in the US or Europe. What 6 years ago was more of a picnic destination with blankets on the grass and great music, has morphed into a significant stop on the house and techno summer circuit.

Alongside the increased profile and attendance, getting to and from the island has become its own mission. Most have by now discovered the water taxi trick - the ferry’s little (unaffiliated) sibling. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the city opens to alternative ferry/taxi options to support the water transportation infrastructure. Yet, even with the wait, the indelible memories, magic, gorgeous sunsets with epic soundtracks, life-changing experiences, musical moments, newly forged and ever-deepening friendships are all well-worth the trek.

Check out the full Electric Island Canada Day gallery by Ded Agency here!

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