ISLAND VIBES & SOULFUL SMILES
What a season! Toronto’s premiere summer concert and picnic series wrapped with a two-day finale this past Labour Day weekend, September 2nd & 3rd at Hanlan’s Point.
Over six years, Electric Island has grown into an expanded experience for house music and techno lovers. It increasingly offers something for everyone with two dynamic stages, a variety of food trucks, vendors, scenic moments, gorgeous lighting and memorable backdrops, underground soul and finally, perhaps most importantly, an evolving sense of community.
This year’s new and distinct main stage offered a visually striking element to the season’s overall production while the Moog Audio stage added another layer of heart, breadth, depth and soulful magic in an equally compelling natural setting.
Crisp, gorgeous summer weather and groovy beginnings greeted us on Day One. Toronto’s Night Vision, Sean Roman and Shelley Johansson brought sweet vibes and house-inspired sounds to set the tone at the main stage while the venue slowly filled under the mid-afternoon sun. Versatile boundary-pusher, Danny Daze, cranked the energy next, welcoming the early evening rush with bass heavy, synth-infused, often syncopated, percussive sounds. He reached techno territory at golden hour, graciously preparing us for ever-rising Charlotte de Witte’s impending slay. From the first beat, de Witte announced her Toronto debut with solid, persistent, hammering techno, taking it from Daze’s eclectic blend to a more linear, powerful vibe as the sun set. She gave us high BPM with groove, acid-inspired trajectories, and personally, my love for triple kicks was satiated. As night fell into darkness, Loco Dice fed off her energy with a paced, driven tech house opening which continued throughout his set.
As I watched the main stage and its surroundings from a distance, it struck me that every time I go to the Island, it’s a growing community. The walk from stage to stage, dancing or meandering to get a drink undoubtedly leads to a conversation, greeting, random connection, long lost friend, life chat (+ jewelry purchase), dinner chat or simply for me, a warm awareness of being surrounded by people there to have a good time. The atmosphere is welcoming, laid back and of course, at times absolutely electric.
Over at the Moog Audio stage, the day’s lineup carved out a gorgeous, seemingly endless tapestry of sound; it was a family affair with a packed house, vibes for miles and incredible energy. Beloved local talent Alberto Jossue, Aleksandar Kojic and Borzoo opened with beautiful sets, leading to Nature of Music’s deep house journey, into Rodriguez Jr.’s groovy, soulful live performance and the bumping house vibes continued with Night Vision & Alberto Jossue. This season especially, the Moog stage became a centre stage in its own right.
It’s wild how much a vibe can shift from one day to the next, same location and set up, but different lineup, people and weather. After opening sets from Alexander Harris and Gera on Day Two, lightning in the area put a hold on J.Phlip's performance as we experienced a mini rain outburst. We retreated to the edges for a half hour and when the music started again, it felt like a slingshot had been released - people were even more amped and excited. J.Phlip launched with a wicked groove and the collective vibe became extra fun, bouncy and jubilant. The Day One word for me was diverse, Day Two was fun.
Lane 8, wearing a Maple Leafs jersey, delivered one of the most talked about sets of the day - a wavy, melodic, emotive, groovy, progressive house cornucopia. Perfect for after the rain. Dancers gave it everything on the dance dirt, as it were, and yet the deep, ethereal soundscape also provided the perfect mood for a sunset picnic dinner. For some reason I’ll never forget eating tacos with a friend, basking in Lane 8’s sounds from a distance, the open sky, chill vibes, and the golden hour sun glancing through the trees.
We went to the Moog stage just in time to catch Pony & Karim Olen Ash crushing the site with Crystal Waters' groove-heavy classic 100% Pure Love. The DJ/rap duo brought upbeat, bouncy, deep house vibes with a (large) (outdoor) (Canadian nature) house party feel. It was different, fun, funny, soulful and electric. Nitin then destroyed us with dirty, deep house, followed by Jamie Kidd with an equally strong and soulful set.
Back at the main stage, Justin Martin delivered a fun, dirty(bird), bouncy tech house set. The vibe overall was upbeat, the grounds full, weather perfect and lighting on point. MOOD Records boss, Nicole Moudaber then took the reins and kept the groovy tech house momentum moving, showing her range beyond techno. She built from Martin’s set into a deep, dark (without it being too dark) transformative, captivating rhythm. Never over did it. Not too many sounds or layered noises. It was sexy, groovy, mesmerizing and stepped into a journey about halfway through (*confirmed by multiple sources) as she went deep into techno, taking the crowd with her on a euphoric ride. She delivered an incredibly special experience that touched hearts, connected the crowd, and for me was one of the defining sets of the summer. The power of music is that it can completely change you; it can shift perception and create a new emotional reference point that once experienced, you now know exists within yourself.
The two-day Electric Island finale was a sensory journey that offered something for everyone. It was the culmination of a summer series that offered consistently outstanding production and incredible moments, musically and beyond. It gave us a gorgeous home for house music and techno, and a space to enjoy a day with friends. On a deeper level it gave us the possibility of expanding, and the experience of being touched by music that may have transformed our soul.
Check out the full Ded Agency Day One Album here!
Thank you to the event organizers and LCPR for the warm hospitality and exceptional production.