In 2017, the now annual festivities on the Toronto Islands quite literally faced “high-water.” However, as the adage goes, there was no stopping the Victoria Day edition of this year’s Electric
Island Park concert series. For this event, high-water had forced us on land, to Woodbine Park. Indeed, as each year passes, it seems as though the role of the concert series seems to grow within Toronto’s musical zeitgeist. Take a look at the crowd, and you will be greeted with a mix of all that that Toronto has to offer, convening before the artists that rarely grace the city’s shores more than once a year.
It was a bit of a shame to be without the stellar backdrop that usually surrounds the island events, but Woodbine Park proved to be a more than worthy replacement for this years partygoing faithful. The layout was spread out across the park property, and at times felt more like a sprawling festival atmosphere that harkened to shades of last year’s Bestival. This was compounded with the addition of a second stage, a hidden gem in the event presenting alternative rhythms from more adventurous realms of electronic music. Photo by @urbvnex ~ Woodbine Park
For Toronto, the Electric Island events are an opportunity to reconvene with fellow Toronto denizens in the first major party of the summer. Indeed, such is the draw that many attendees end up experiencing techno and house music properly for the first time. Fortunately for them, the curation is excellent, and with the addition of KVR2 speaker systems, the sound reproduced bass and clarity as dynamic as the music it represents.
Both the mainstage and side stages included a bevy of talented local artists that were more than equipped to set the tone. From the tech house of Andrew Choe, to Night Vision’s deeper brand of electronic music, the stage was bubbling appropriately for the arrival of crowd-favourite Bedouin. Following this, Eats Everything, Joris Voorn and finally techno stalwart Ben Klock took the stage. Photo by @urbvnex ~ Woodbine Park
For an event that appears to be growing year after year, it is a testament to the team that the artist bookings have had a consistent level of quality since the onset. Couple this with the second stage additions of Red Axes and Rebodello, there was something for everyone. Although Leon Vynehall was unable to perform, Red Axes and Rebodello performed back go back in a moment of magic that will remain long in the memory.
Photo by @urbvnex ~ Woodbine Park
The real magic trick that Electric Island manages to conjure is its ability to cater to the occasionally finicky crowds of electronic music lovers while staying true to the initial concept of bringing the “underground” to the masses. It is very likely that many going away from the event will not have seen these artists before, however having established itself as a figurehead in the Toronto summer festival circuit, Electric Island serves a unique curatorial purpose.
It is by giving art and music a platform from which to thrive that truly creative things can happen, and by exposing the oft-uncovered sounds and textures to new audiences, the event series may signal a sign of changing tides in the electronic music landscape. In a year where festivals are downsizing or are completely absent, Electric Island continues to thrive and grow as a spectacle. The Victoria Day celebration sets the tone: it’s back, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
All photos by @urbvnex