Published May 21, 2019In its seventh year, Electric Island has earned the right to call itself a long-running festival series. Over the years, artists across the underground spectrum have graced the island's shores with their own approaches to rhythmic sound. When the series began, Electric Island was fairly uncontested in its approach to curating bigger names in alternative dance music for a Toronto crowd.
This year, the Victoria Day weekend edition began on a Sunday forecasted first for sun, and later for rain. The event itself is now somewhat of a ritual for summertime Torontonians interested in dance music. With festivals shutting down and nightclubs closing, city residents need somewhere to expunge the stresses of the day, and why wouldn't the shores overlooking the Toronto skyline be the ideal place?
Arriving on the island, it was clear that water levels were still reasonably high. This year, however, the island staff were well prepared and had managed it better than in the past, although much of the ground was still muddy.
DJ Minx, the first of the main stage headliners, played a medley of house and tech house based rhythms, much of which tended to overlap in style with whatever was playing on the Moog stage at the time. It was a little awkward in terms of programming; more variety may have offered a bit of reprieve from the uniformity. Approaching the end of her set, the greatest cheers arrived during Fisher's "Losing It."
Midway through DJ Minx's set on the main stage, DJ Sneak took the reins on the Moog stage. The veteran DJ's technical mastery was on full view, with the Afro-beat remix of Childish Gambino's "This Is America" being a highlight in one of the best sets of the day. On the main stage, Tamer Malki of Bedouin followed DJ Minx at six in the afternoon. The energy shift was somewhat jarring, with Bedouin's approach being far more subtle as opposed to Minx's frequent peaks and troughs. It was also marred mid-stride with technical problems, but they were resolved and the cheers broke out for a glimmer of sunlight that breached the clouds. It was a short-lived moment; the rain subsequently grew heavy, forcing the Islanders to break out the ponchos amidst the muddying soil.
It didn't seem to deter anyone, and when Âme's Kristian Beyer arrived during the strongest downpour of the day, the crowd embraced their moment of escapism. The set followed nicely after Malki's, as the words of Traumprinz' "Believe" echoed across Hanlan's Point. Beyer's set was another highlight in a day of clouds, but it perhaps would've made more sense preceding a later DJ Minx set. Âme's set was markedly heavier than his usual Innervisions drenched haze, and it was lapped up wholeheartedly.
On the Moog stage, Nathan Barato and Carlo Lio's back-to-back set enamoured the gathered with the Toronto tech house the pair are known for. Finally, in the darkness, Dubfire closed out the first edition of this year's Electric Island series in expectant style.
One gets the sense that attendees are less concerned with the specifics of the lineup as opposed to the spectacle of the event itself. The facade of separation from the goings-on of the metropolitan sprawl across Lake Ontario is something that has allowed Electric Island to flourish over the years, but the magic of earlier editions seems strangely absent. For all of the good that Electric Island does, maybe it's time for something new.