This weekend, I volunteered to cover two nights of Montreal’s sub-zero outdoor dance music extravaganza, Igloofest, and, of course, I got sick. But a few sniffles didn’t keep me from the frozen dancefloor, especially with a couple of electronic music legends on the bill. So, bolstered by several layers of warm clothes and a belly full of Jägermeister, I reluctantly said, “Fuck the weather! Let’s do this!”
Friday’s temperatures were bone-chilling, but here’s my Bucket-tip: if you want to check out the festival on a cold night, spend the extra dough on a VIP ticket. Not only will you look like a baller from the private dancefloor overlooking the main stage, but you also get access to a heated cabin decked out with a bar, couches, and a TV screen so you can keep track of what’s happening onstage.
From the VIP dancefloor I watched Softcoresoft warm up the dancers with acid, retro electro. The 90s sound, from the golden age of techno when the music was still developing in Detroit studios and UK raves, is killing it right now. Softcoresoft dialed-up the old school to the delight of the crowd (she recently shared 1993’s The Secret Life of Trance on Facebook, so she’s obviously influenced by classic Rising High releases).
On the Videotron stage, Swiss producer MIMETIC, and local techno “villainess” J’vlyn d’Ark dropped hard and dark techno with an industrial edge. Like at Igloofest’s summer companion Piknic Électronik, the side stage has its own special ambiance. The dancefloor is smaller and tighter than the main area, and the surround-sound hits you from all sides, creating a nightclub atmosphere more like Stereo than an outdoor festival. It’s also sheltered from the arctic winds that blow through the main area.
Back at the main area, the Igloofest team made a few crucial modifications to the site this year. “The stage was moved back and re-positioned, which improved the whole atmosphere,” said Nicolas Cournoyer, one of the masterminds behind Igloofest and Piknic. “Last year it was too small [for the crowds]”, he said, and “…it was more frontal.” Moving the stage allowed the organizers to create something “…a bit more immersive. Now, you are not just obliged to look at the DJ, you can look around, and your eyes and ears are always challenged by the surroundings. More room, more space to dance; it really improved the comfort for the festival goers,” Cournoyer said.
I agree. The main area had plenty of room to get down, and the vibe was noticeably more upbeat than last year. Two world-class artists were at the controls on Friday: starting with French producer Shiba San. Shiba’s set started with subdued, low-key beats, and progressed to blissful vocal tracks, afro-house, and deep, rolling grooves—a perfect warm-up set.
By the time tech house legend Green Velvet took over, the crowd was electric. The relentless set peaked early with his hypnotic ode to nitrous oxide, “Flash.” Green Velvet started out in Chicago in the early 90s as Cajmere. He later created the Green Velvet alter-ego, with neon hair and an electro-punk style, and released a handful of definitive Chicago house cuts including “Preacher Man” and “Answering Machine.” The set was experimental and hard, maybe a prelude to the heavyweight techno to come on Saturday. Stay tuned for more Igloofest coverage later this week.
Written by Rob Coles
*edited by Kate Erickson