1. Anjunabeats dominated on their branded stage and the mainstage
Day 1 of Escapade was a celebration of Anjunabeats styled music as they hosted their own stage in the historic Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne park and later taking over the mainstage with label heads Above & Beyond as Paavo and Jono showcased their iconic tracks.
Ilan Bluestone and Andrew Bayer are two of the biggest acts to come from the Anjunabats family and they both showcased their discography with zeal, interactivity, and with personality behind the decks. Bluestone seemed more relaxed since his performance at RBC Bluesfest last year, while Bayer brought the crowd into his world every chance he got when he wasn't busy mixing.
But the MVP of the Anjunabeats Escapade experience goes to Mat Zo, who spun an Anjunabeats classic set that left the smaller yet enthusiastic crowd in awe. While Above & Beyond was on the mainstage, Mat Zo went 30 minutes over his planned set schedule to give us "Rebound", his track with Arty that was arguably one of their biggest singles back in the day. He then took the crowd on a true time warp as he brought out the Kyau & Albert remix of "6am" by Cressida (2008), the Wippenberg remix of "Needs To Feel" by Super8 & Tab (2007), and many more. Mat Zo looked happy behind the decks and was clearly feeling the set. It was a special moment to witness.
2. MK and Shiba San had the Ottawa crowd vibing
The underground stage was nestled at TD Place Arena where you had to take 2 flights of stairs down to reach, which set the mood for the vibe to come. Escapade transformed the arena into a nightclub feel as it was dark and moody, and the environment stood on its own from the rest of the festival. The acoustics was excellent as MK and Shiba San took full advantage of the room as they both crafted memorable sets.
Marc Kinchen unleashed his remixes, dubs, and edits on day 1 which included his remix of Rihanna's "Desperado" that got the crowd dancing. Shiba San continued where MK left off by mixing his own tracks like his collab with Will Clarke called "Give It To Me" with the heater "On The Corner" by Solardo. If you want to go dancing, check out both of these artists.
3. Escapade at Lansdowne Park was flawless
A little over 2 weeks ago Escapade suddenly changed plans and moved the entire festival from Rideau Carleton Raceaway to Lansdowne Park. Major festivals like Escapade take 8 to 10 months to plan, and having only 2 weeks to prepare for the new location was a daunting task to say the least. But DNA Presents, the organizers behind Escapade, pulled it off to a spectacular effect as I found no issues with the layout, the line, the food, the sound, or the stages. Everything felt polished and well organized, everybody looked happy, and the set schedule was adhered to without any major complications. Hats off to DNA Presents for pulling this off.
4. Sheridan Grout and DJ Karl k-otik made the local scene proud
Fans that decided to head over to Escapade early were rewarded with one of the best sets of the day with Ottawa's own Sheridan Grout and Montreal's DJ Kärl K-Otik playing a special B2B set. Sheridan Grout has been gaining international attention as his productions have been showcased multiple times on Armin's A State of Trance show while DJ Kärl K-Otik has been spinning trance sets in the Montreal scene for years. They played a peak trance set at 4 pm which felt like a 4 am set at the famous Circus Afterhours club in Montreal, and felt genuine chills as they belted out euphoric tunes. Ottawa and Montreal fans should take note and make it a point to check out their next shows.
5. The Fans
From the line outside, to inside the festival grounds and in the middle of the mainstage crowd - the fans made the festival. Whenever MK or Shiba San played something special, the fans made it known. When Ilan Bluestone and Andrew Bayer interacted with the crowd, the crowd gave them love right back. When Slushii or Dada Life wanted the crowd to jump, they jumped with enthusiasm. You can read vibe of the crowd by the smiles on the faces from every DJ I saw yesterday. Hopefully that will continue as on as we head into day 2.
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