Escapade to another level (Festival review)

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By Dominic Wren (Photos by Simon Audette)

This wasn’t any ordinary music festival in the nation’s capital. Escapade music festival used their 10-year experience to pull of an event that will be remembered for years to come. I had a great time at the festival and it was probably one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had at a festival. DJ Snake and Tiësto both tore the roof off, but the lesser-known mixers also showed their worth at the beginning of each day. Another major detail that the EDM Canada team noticed was the festival’s capacity. Escapade was 100% sold out and we never felt over crowded with people while still feeling the massive crowd energy even in the main stage crowds at closing sets. This was truly special as it made the experience so much more enjoyable for everyone attending. Now that shows a festivals values; fan’s enjoyment over profits. Big ups for that Escapade MF.

 This festival review won’t look at the regular “top 5 shows” or “the best DJ.” There so many other elements that made the event and the sets special. The simple answer is that each set had a spark of it’s own. The long answer is basically listing each set in there own category. But let highlight a couple shall we?

The most exotic show: Keys n Krates

These Canadian artists have rightfully earned their names as true artists. Now they were probably my favorite act of the weekend in the most artistic way. They gave the biggest summer vibes, which was a breath of fresh air. They kept their original trap sound but often crossed over to some house/summer vibes that made their set really special. If you want to see a show that you can dance and enjoy with some exotic feels at the same time, these are the guys you want to see.

The craziest show: DJ Snake

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DJ Snake has a way to take his sets to another level of intensity. His whole persona seems to be made to destroy his fans. Just his opening started off the last show of Day 1 took no prisoners. From mixing and dropping tracks like South Side, Propaganda, Pigalle, Gassed Up, and so many more. Although he slowed down his set for the last 20 minutes, he appealed to the hard core ravers and the chiller types of ravers. DJ Snake, there is a reason you’re on top of the world.

Best B2B: Zeds Dead B2B Jauz

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This B2B was so diverse in their music that I couldn’t take them away from my top B2B list. They dropped some old school Zeds Dead with Jauz’s signature bass house sound, a sprinkle of hard bass music and a touch of house music while keeping the energy of the main stage at a perfect high.  This was an iconic B2B as these guys have had other shows together at Hard Music Festival and Holy Ship so this made an experienced team that adapted really well together.

The most authentic main stage set: Timmy Trumpet

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Timmy Trumpet wasn’t in my top 5 shows I was looking for nor did I really pay attention to his sets and his music. I was low key listening to his set while walking through the event area until his charisma, trumpet skills, and mixing decisions really caught my ear so I ran to the main stage a catch a glimpse of his show and it was nothing less then impressive. His charisma on stage shows his true passion for what he does and his trumpet skills were incredibly unique to see up close and you don’t really realize that until you see it for yourself.

Best small crowd handling: Wax Motif

Wax Motif lived up to my expectations coming into the festival and while watching him live. He was playing a mid-day, side stage set so the crowd wasn’t at maximum capacity but his handle of the small crowd drew them in even closer to his show and really made a special up close and personal G-House set. Dropping his tracks such as Tokyo and Fly Kicks (Wax Motif Remix) made the crowd move like if they were twice the size.

 Escapade Music Festival was truly unique this year. From the event area never being over crowed, to chilling spots with incredible views, to great music and great artists, this is a festival that should be on most people’s “to do” list for next summer. It is definitely one of my favourite event’s of the yer, I really hope to see you there next year!

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6 questions about the Escapade Music Festival answered

Source: Escapade FB page

Source: Escapade FB page

Escapade is a little more than a month away and EDM Canada cannot be more excited about this year’s lineup. As we prepare for the festival in the Nation’s Capital, we had the opportunity to ask Alex Primeau, the festival’s talent booker, a few questions about Escapade. From the history of the festival, to the current festival landscape, and why those sitting on the fence should buy a ticket a right now - we get into all sorts of topics. Check it out:

1) Since it’s beginning, 9 years ago, did you feel the festival steadily rise in popularity or did it suddenly become a major festival? 

Alex Primeau: There have definitely been a few jumps and milestones throughout the years, considering 10 years ago we started in a downtown Ottawa parking lot with a few hundred people and little to no production whatsoever. However, we think that the fact that we have steadily risen in popularity shows that our fans really do enjoy coming to our festival and keep coming back with new people and friends who have never experienced Escapade. Here we are, at our 10 year anniversary, about to be SOLD OUT for the first time and ready to give our EMF Family an experience they will never forget.


2) With Escapade being almost a decade old, there must have been some unforgettable moments. Could you name us your top 3 best moments and why are they so special? 

· When we realized that Escapade could become something amazing. In 2011, year 2, when Tiesto was playing in that same downtown Ottawa parking lot, but this time SOLD OUT with 5000 people and a lineup down the street. That was the first time we got feedback from people saying that it was amazing and could be something big for Ottawa.

·  It was one of the coldest June 25th on record, Armin van Buuren was closing out EMF 2015, in the pouring rain; Lasers were going off, music was thumping and thousands of people were still just raging, loving life, not phased at all by the weather. That was special

Source: Escapade FB page

Source: Escapade FB page

·  Bringing Tysen Lefebvre, who has Pfeiffer Syndrome Type 2, on the Escapade Main stage in 2014 and presenting him with a cheque for $10,000$ towards his mission to a million. This mission was to raise money for the Make-a-Wish foundation, which makes wishes come true for children with life threatening illnesses. To put it in perspective, that making over 100 wishes come true, which Tysen has achieved! It was really an incredible feeling to be able to be a part of his mission and watching him accomplish it was even better

 

3) How does Escapade continue thrive while 5 EDM related festivals in Canada have either decided to stop their 2019 plans or cancel their festival altogether? How do you feel about the festival business as a whole? 

Over the past few years the festival business has changed dramatically. Not only have there been many new festivals that have started which has made the space more competitive but festival expenses like: the weakening of the Canadian Dollar vs the US Dollar and Artist fees significantly increasing have made it much harder to have a financially viable festival.   These factors have forced festivals to think outside the box when it comes to the product they are offering to attendees. Over the last 10 years Escapade has tried to stay true to its vision of providing not only world class talent but also not just being a 2 day concert but rather a 2 day experience.  We want people to walk into our event and feel that there are multiple layers of interaction .  From our chill zones, to our games, to the brand partner activations,  there should always be something for an attendee to do outside of listening to their favourite DJ on stage.   We know we will never be the biggest festival, or have the production similar to leaders like ULTRA or EDC, but we truly feel that when attending escapade you feel a part of our family.  It’s the relationship and memories you create over that weekend that will last a lifetime and makes Escapade special to all our attendees.   I think the proof is in the pudding as this year is going to be the biggest Escapade to date,  so no one is going to convince me that the festival market is weakening, as we think its just getting started!

 
4) Escapade attracts many fans outside of the city - can you tell us more on how many fans come from out of town and where they come from?

Our tourism numbers are actually pretty astounding when you really look at them; 45% of our total festival attendees are from out of town. Most of these out of town attendees are from the Quebec & GTA regions, but we have been seeing an increasing numbers of attendees from the US as well as Eastern Canada


5) With some major festivals choosing to blend hip hop acts with EDM, Escapade has reaffirmed their commitment to an EDM only lineup. How difficult was this decision? 

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As a music festival, our commitment to music is one that allow us to curate the best possible lineup for our fans and for the festival itself. In 2018, we incorporated a few hip hop acts, which went over really well. We chose specific acts with enough commercial appeal as well as crossover ability with their EDM collaborations. For our 2019 edition, we just had access to such a large number of high caliber electronic artists that we were able to curate a powerful 10 year anniversary without needing to add hip hop elements. Escapade is a music festival that will always try and present the best lineup possible, while balancing commercial appeal and also listening to what our loyal EMF Fam wants to see and hear as well!


6) Make your best pitch - why should fans come to the 2019 edition of Escapade? 

Fans should come to Bud Light Escapade 2019 if they want to get away from the stress of everyday life and want to come experience a weekend that they will never forget with all their best friends! Escapade is like one big family; not only will you be with you friends but we guarantee that you will leave having made new friends that will most likely last a lifetime. Oh and you could also come for the lineup stacked with the top international talent, the incredible vibe or the top notch production elements :)