Red Bull recently returned to Toronto for their second annual Red Bull Music Festival and this time around we were treated to a multi-night event series highlighted by Encounters: a rave at a beautiful industrial event space with some of Toronto’s best local and international acts. Enlisting local promoters Deep Gold, On Earth, Forth, and ISO Radio, the lineup featured heavy hitters Ciel, Machine Woman, Madam X, Bambii and more, with visuals provided by the masterful Sergio SP, and sound by Justin Martins of the infamous Alieninflux soundsystem.
The venue was The Symes, a former incinerator that sat abandoned for years before it was transformed recently into one of the cities premier event (wedding and corporate) spaces. That means it left the techno and other warehouse party scenes out of the loop - the truth is that no local party promoter can afford to throw a party on their own at a venue like The Symes. So when Red Bull announced the location for the second annual Toronto edition of their festival, we were pretty excited! Check out this historic photo courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives and a few more recent ones that thoroughly enticed us to attend.
And the night did not disappoint. Former EARMILK writer Lukas closed out the main floor with his live set as City Dance Corporation to rave reviews. His improvisation and energy is exciting and we can't wait to follow along as he establishes himself as a producer and artist - we all knew it would happen one day, he knows more about electronic music and gear than anyone I've ever met! Fellow Forth star Joel Eel played another live set earlier in the night and if you're not familiar with either of these two, get used to hearing their names soon. Listen below to "Qtrack" from City Dance Corporation, released earlier this year on Forth.
A highlight was On Earth's b2b2b between Ceremonies, efemmera, and Kehdo. The trio behind one of Toronto's best promoter crews, On Earth, delivered a perfect set to get things ramped up on the main floor. Walking into the massive room for the first track from Nat (Ceremonies) and staying till the end for this lovely track (see below) was just the blissful energy I needed to get my night going. The trio have been delivering standout shows in the city at venues like Bambi's and all the warehouses that we frequent, booking artists like AKUA (Discwoman), DJ Python, and so many more. It was no surprise to hear that they would be involved in this night, as they've been at the forefront of the techno world in Toronto lately.
Up on the top floor, the vibe was a bit more extreme. Bambii and Equiknoxx were among the main draws and people were there in full support. The mixing of genres between floors allowed for a larger event and the community vibe felt with various crowds from Toronto's underground music scenes coming together was amazing. The energy with live performances from both floors, in very different ways, was unique. Downstairs was all about technical, skilled live techno while upstairs seemed more along the lines of a live electronic show, with vocals and stage performing from what I was able to get a glimpse of. My focus was downstairs, however.
And how could it not be with artists like Ciel and Machine Woman on the main slots for Red Bull Music Festival Toronto. Ciel needs little introduction in Toronto's underground music community at this point - the international breakout Discwoman artist has had numerous releases this year and continues to gain heavy momentum worldwide with booking including Life and Death's annual Barcelona weekender. No different is Machine Woman, although based in Berlin via Russia, making waves with her heavy industrial sounds. Check out one of Ciel's releases below for some dreamy soundscapes.
Speaking of dreamy, let's talk about the opening artists, Raf Reza, and Korea Town Acid. Spread out with synths and drum machines taking up the stage, the two played a perfect, musical opening. Walking in with visuals provided by Sergio SP on all floors with different installations was a very nice touch and made the party feel right at home.
Overall, the night felt like a coming together of underground scenes for the city, and with the usual suspects providing the vibe setting elements, the night was guaranteed to be a success. Thanks to Red Bull for enlisting the locals for help on this and coming through with a night to remember.
Photo credit: Anthony Tuccitto
Photo credit: Maria Jose Govea
Check out some more photos from the event here: Photos
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