As you may know, last weekend was Toronto’s annual “Digital Dreams” music festival, which was this year rebranded as “Dreams” – a 19+ “boutique” music festival geared towards those who consider themselves more “music enthusiasts”, rather than those who are just looking for a good time. I bought my tickets for just Saturday super last minute, off someone I found on Toronto Rave Community for $80, though one-day tickets retailed for $125 (not including fees) from the Dreams website.
With the rising popularity of music festivals and electronic music, I wanted to write a post about my experience for anyone contemplating attending next year. I just wanted to clarify that my experiences are based on my music tastes and preferences completely, and that other people may have had a completely different impression of the festival completely!
To begin, it was really hard for me not to compare this year’s experience with my experience last year, despite the rebranding. Last year I went for both days, and paid ~$250 for everything. I was extremely happy with my experience last year as I found that the lineup was more diverse, the production was more grand, and the crowd was larger. Though there are upsides to having a smaller crowd at a music festival, I love meeting new people and making new friends while bonding over music.
As with last year, there were 3 stages – one “main” stage with the most popular DJs, a secondary stage that usually plays “deeper” music, and a tent which ranges from bass, to dubstep, to trance. Last year’s main stage was huge, but unfortunately renovations to the venue made it impossible for them to keep the same set-up as last year. As such, this year’s “main” stage was TD Echo Beach (last year’s secondary stage), and the secondary stage was what they called the “Waterfront” stage but was SO small that apparently some attendees who went both days didn’t even know it was there.
This year, I was most excited to see Malaa, DJ Hanzel (Dillon Francis’s deep-house spinning alter ego), Shiba San, Dillstradamus (Dillon Francis + Flosstradamus), Anna Lunoe, Feed Me, and Infected Mushroom. I was super happy with all of these artists’ performances, but unfortunately I feel like the production of the event overall decreased my enjoyment. For example, international DJs like Malaa, Shiba, Hanzel, etc., were playing on the Waterfront stage, which was one of the smallest stages I have ever seen at a festival. Given their status and their fan base, I felt that it was such a waste of their talent to have such a minute set-up. Not that I believe that bigger is better (I am all for “intimate” venues LOL), but issues with that setup are that there wasn’t room for the crowd (a large majority of people were sitting on a hill as there wasn’t enough space to dance!) and sound bleeding (hearing sounds from other stages – it really distracts from a set).
All in all, I had a good time because of the artists killing it (I think DJ Hanzel, Malaa, and Shiba San did a great job especially), but I definitely do not think it would be worth going if you paid full price from the website, which was more expensive than last year but offered less value. I’m not sure what Ink was trying to do by marketing it as a “boutique” festival this year, but I really hope that next year they return to what it used to be!
See below for a video of DJ Hanzel’s opening at the Waterfront stage~
P.S. – I realize I have extremely unique music taste in EDM, but if you like deep dark shit, check out my July ’17 playlist on SoundCloud (no DVBBS or Chainsmokers here hehe)