One of the best parts about summer music festivals is just that – they’re in the summer. Blue skies, sunshine and warmth can do an awful lot to enhance the atmosphere at a concert/festival, and go a long way in putting smiles on the faces of those in attendance. So, the fact that Montreal’s first annual Île Soniq music festival was amongst the highlights of my summer, despite some absolutely treacherous weather, is a testament to just what a great show it was.
Spread over two days in the city’s Parc Jean-Drapeau, festival organizer Evenko gave 35,000 EDM fans (about 17,500 per day) an eclectic mix of music, boasting a whole handful of huge artists, from dance favorites like Tiësto, Adventure Club and Laidback Luke, to more hip-hop/rap oriented performers, like Juicy J and Iggy Azalea. It was an excellent and impressive line-up and one that did not disappoint in the slightest.
Divided into three stages, the festival offered up something for everyone. Personally, I spent most of my time running between the main stage, dubbed Oasis, and the secondary stage, which was known as Superheroes Anonymous on the first day and Mirage on the second. A smaller, third stage called Neon was sandwiched between the two bigger ones, but unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to spend there.
Day one brought with it a ton of great DJs, but that also presented several scheduling conflicts. After a raging set from Botnek and a somewhat disappointing performance from Iggy Azalea, I headed over to Superheroes Anonymous to catch the always electrifying 3LAU, who once again impressed with some fantastic mixes, a couple originals (How You Love Me never gets old) and an unparalleled level of energy that ensured the crowd had their minds “3LAU’d.”
Following that, we had Bingo Players getting the crowd riled up over at Oasis (with surefire classics like Rattle, Cry (Just a Little) and new track Knock You Down), while The Chainsmokers did their thing over at Superheroes Anonymous, taking Selfies with the crowd and giving the fans exactly what they wanted. Both sets were excellent, and the only disappointment was that I had to split my time between the two stages, as I would have liked to of seen both acts in full. I was faced with the same dilemma shortly after as well, when Dillon Francis stepped onto Oasis at the same time Adventure Club were beginning their homecoming set over at Superheroes Anonymous.
I decided to spend most of my time with the Montreal native DJs and watched as the crowd embraced Christian and Leighton with open arms and energy levels that were off the charts. Once again, Adventure Club put on another truly special show, playing for nearly two hours and accompanied by a dazzling display of lights and effects. Watching them perform in their hometown was really a memorable experience and made for one of the best sets that I’ve ever seen from them.
I did catch the last 20 minutes or so of Mr. Francis as well, and given that I’ve never seen him before, I was quite impressed. The crowd went particularly wild for his new song, When We Were Young, and the production and visuals during his set on Oasis were excellent.
Finally, the King himself, Tiesto, came onto the main stage to close out the night. Running through most of his new album (Written In Reverse, Set Yourself Free, Wasted, etc.), as well as a bunch of the classics, the Dutch DJ delivered a flawless set of music. Going into it, I was a bit worried that the set would run the risk of being too mainstream for my liking, but that wasn’t the case. The king played to all of his fans (both hardcore and casual) and delivered a very memorable close to day one.
Oh, and when he put on a Montreal Canadiens jersey, the crowd freaking lost it.Next
With Day 2, things weren’t looking too good weather wise. Cold temperatures and rain threatened to keep festival goers at home, but as I arrived just in time for Cash Cash’s set on the main stage, I quickly realized that that wasn’t the case. I actually had never seen these guys live before, but damn were they good. Dropping fantastic remixes (Krewella’s Alive), some really catchy originals (Take Me Home) and just some great music in general, I instantly became a fan. The crowd was going wild as well for Cash Cash, dancing their hearts out despite the cold and rain.
With the park already filling up, Seven Lions came on stage next and though he started off a bit too slow for my liking, he eventually transitioned into some interesting tracks, including a nice remix of Porter Robinson’s Worlds, the always reliable Bastille’s Pompeii, and his own twist on Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, before playing some of stuff from his new EP, like Worlds Apart and Strangers (two of my favorites).
After DJ Pierre, who filled in for Tyga and did quite a good job, and some of Cosmic Gate (who I’m not a big fan of but still enjoyed), the next big act of the night was Zeds Dead. Bringing a bass-heavy set that rarely let up, fans of the Canadian duo were in for a real treat. Playing some tracks from their new album (Lost You, Where Are You Now) as well as some classics (White Satin) and even a few remixes (Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze being a particular highlight), Zeds Dead had energy levels higher than they had been all day, and just in time for the final headliner, too.
Finally, to end off the night in epic fashion, Laidback Luke came out to a massive crowd that had filled the park to the brim. Extremely heavy rain, a chilly wind and a field that had turned completely into a muddy swamp were no match for the beautiful festival anthems and sparkling fireworks display that the DJ brought out with him. Mixing everything from his staples (Turbulence) to huge tracks like Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike’s Find Tomorrow and Calvin Harris’ Feel So Close, and even some classic rock, like Queen and Oasis, Laidback Luke delivered what was hands down the best, and most varied, set of the festival.
So, overall, what did I think of Île Soniq as a whole? I loved it. I absolutely loved it. Scheduling issues aside, which in truth isn’t exactly a bad thing (having too much good music never hurt anyone, right?), the festival was excellent. Production on both of the main stages was top-notch (I really dug the whole flower theme at Oasis), the headliners brought their A-game, organization was solid (except the entrance/exit situation could have been handled a bit better) and the VIP area, despite being a bit underwhelming, was still worth the money. Evenko did a fantastic job with the festival, especially considering it was their first outing with it, and I can’t wait to return to Montreal next year to see what they do for their sophomore effort.Previous