(all photos cred: visualbass photography)

It was the epitome of summer at Toronto’s renowned Sunnyside Pavilion, Saturday, September 1st for Dubfire, Kenny Glasgow and friends - beautiful weather, friends chatting, dancing, drinks, sun, that perfect glow through the trees, all surrounded by music. As I walked in, both courtyards were bumping with energetic, house-driven sets from local veterans Jonathan Rosa and Amália Leandro. Tie-dyed fabric draped from above along with hanging spheres and lanterns added ambience to the venue and softened the historical cobblestone grounds. As night fell, the site morphed into a luminescent experience with trees caked in coloured light on a dark backdrop, lasers clipping the air and colour enveloping the crowd.

Toronto’s beloved Kenny Glasgow gave us a deep set laced with cavernous groove pockets as we danced into the sunset. It was gritty, smooth, driving and non-negotiable - you had to dance. At the other courtyard, Jonathan Coe offered dynamic house, followed by Wonka’s compelling house/tech house journey with an ever-present techno undercurrent. Arman & Beynon closed with a gorgeous nighttime soundscape.

It can be challenging to define genres as an experience, or sounds in words - house can feel dark or light, tech house can be bouncy or driven, techno can sound melodic, minimal, both and beyond, and depending on the DJ, they can cover all of those genres and more in a set. Plus we all have different perspectives, moods, desires, expectations and receptivity. As much as I can describe what I heard, or my own experience, it’s cliché, but house music really is a feeling. And I loved it; the music between both courtyards was on point, energy elevated, and summer being celebrated.

With over two-decades as both DJ and producer, Dubfire is an innovative artist who’s consistently been on the leading edge of house and techno’s transformational wave. Tonight he began with an ethereal, resonant corridor of sound that turned heads, announced his arrival and brought attention to one focal point. A melodic overtone imbued with harmonic bass saturated the crowd before turning into a groovy, techno ride. It was dominant without being domineering, full and layered without being overly complex, and eventually evolved to dark, rhythmic techno. We traveled momentarily to bouncy tech house while staying tethered to his trademark deeper soundscape. The evolving thread led us through house music reminiscent of chunky Deep Dish rhythms, to fun, classic 90s warehouse rave old school into gritty, eclectic pockets, ultimately coming back to deeper, familiar techno-infused territory. It was a different set than I’d heard before, and it was incredible. It was more than a layered, minimal techno set, which I have always loved from Dubfire. It was an education. It was a ride into the music that transformed us, touched our souls over time and was a window into its evolution. We heard sounds that existed over a decade ago, and sounds that didn’t. We were there for community, hanging with friends, meeting new ones, soaking up the last days of our precious Canadian summer, and of course there for the music. It was a day to celebrate both White Label Promo and Captive Audience anniversaries, who have given the Toronto dance music scene incredible moments and memories, with more to come. We were there for a creative who’s dedicated to an exploration of audio and visual technology, who’s continual evolution has moved sound to new places within techno and house music; and it was fun, fitting, fulfilling and refreshing to be a part of that journey. As my friend said, reflecting on the set, this was the music that made us.  

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