With just being in its 2nd year, ÎleSoniq has risen to become one of the biggest and brightest festivals to appear on the summer festival circuit in Canada. This year's edition was outstanding as they put together one of the best lineups of the season over 3 beautiful stages that managed to attract 45,000 fans.
The layout of ÎleSoniq was well thought out with no sound bleed between the stages. There was plenty of space to chill out, and almost everywhere on the site you would find little added details that just made the area special. One of my favourite stages of the festival was the Scene stage where it truly felt like you were in the forest surrounded by trees, which made you forget that you were actually in the middle of a major city. The layout was playful and invited fans to explore.
This year's festival was cashless which worked really well as there were many kiosks where you could load up your bracelet or you could simply register your credit card on their website. Buying anything on-site only took a few taps and as a result there were hardly any lineups at any of the vendor areas.
With 52 artists participating at this year's ÎleSoniq, it was difficult to narrow EDM Canada's list of top sets down to just 5 as so many DJs put up great performances. But some sets were better than others and I believe that these 5 artists put their best foot forward last weekend and took the crowd to a whole new level.
Snails returned to ÎleSoniq to play a hometown set that will not soon be forgotten. Once his special brand of VOMITSTEP started blaring out of the speakers, the crowd went absolutely nuts for the entirety of his set. Dubstep might not be the in-fashion sound of 2015, but for people like myself who love to get down and dirty to a sick bass drop, Snails delivered on all accounts. We heard many of his tracks mixed with others like Must Die!'s remix of "Airborne" by Zomboy, "Bruk Bruk" by Dillon Francis, and the Getter remix of Snails/heRobust's "Pump This". Snails went hard and fans loved him for it. If ÎleSoniq continues the trend of inviting artists to curate stages like they did with DJ Snake/DVBBS this year, Snails should be considered to get his own for next year.
2. DJ Snake
DJ Snake had the honour of being given his own "Pardon My French" stage to curate on Day 1, and when it came for him to make his Montreal debut, he shined. DJ Snake sets are creative and surprising, just like when he dropped a Whitney Houston track at Ultra last year which sent Twitter buzzing. At ÎleSoniq he gave us a little of everything including tracks by A$AP Ferg, M83, Jack Ü, Big Sean, ILOVEMAKONNEN, and more. The set was diverse but always rooted in hard pounding tracks including Mercer/4B's "Bounce", "I Can't Stop" by Flux Pavilion, and his well known hit "Turn Down For What". The entire set was filled with energy and DJ Snake gave the crowd exactly what it needed to close out day 1 on a high note.
3. Steve Angello
Steve Angello has been around and back throughout his long electronic dance music career. He was well known within the scene before the big room explosion, and rose to highest of highs as part of the Swedish House Mafia. Since then he's been vocal on social media and interviews about the need to shake things up, and challenged DJs to go beyond the obvious and give fans something new. Steve Angello wants to take electronic dance music in a different direction and that's exactly what he did in his headlining set on day 2. He gave the crowd a little bit of everything: long build ups, melodies, vocal gems, and a great mix of his new and old tracks. Steve Angello didn't take the safe route by simply playing his big hits, instead he constructed a well thought out set that fans needed to hear. He didn't ask the crowd to put their hands up or jump on command - he let his music do the talking which left a strong impression.
Odesza is a duo from Seattle that have shot through the ranks in the past 2 years to become one of the hottest acts at any given festival worldwide. They were given the duty to close out the Scene stage on day 2 and created an immersive experience for fans to behold. Their live setup is refreshing and when you watch them play their tracks live, you can feel how much passion they have for their music. The atmosphere was intimate and the crowd were electrified as Odesza played many of their biggest hits. Many of Odesza's tracks are catchy and immensely inviting, and getting to hear them live was a true pleasure. There's a good reason why these guys are on the rise and I suspect that their journey upwards is just beginning.
The mysterious DJ known as UZ, and artist who shrouds himself for live performances, was on for an early set on the mainstage for Day 1 that went hard. UZ is one of the original dons of the electronic dance music trap scene thanks to his landmark "Trap Shit" series. He's been one of the main guys to raise the profile of the trap scene to where it is today. UZ crafted a dirty trap set on Friday afternoon, including a "Mosh Pit" mashup with Baauer's version of "Tell Me" that sounded fantastic live. This set was memorable because UZ helped set the bar high on day 1.