Grand Prix festivities took over Montreal, QC the weekend of June 10th, and the city was packed with Ferrari fans, bling bling, hangovers, and sunburns. It was not a good weekend for folks with crowd anxiety, but the gearheads and Instagram girls provided some quality people watching for those of us brave enough to face the masses.
There’s another thing synonymous with Grand Prix weekend: killer parties! Amid the bewildering array of quality music in the city, Piknic Électronik was taken over by two rising stars of the Belgian techno scene. And with the event so close to the track, racing fans descended en masse to drink and dance under the sun with some of the finest techno I’ve heard in a minute.
Montreal’s Laura Scavo kicked off the day with dark and deep beats. The dance floor, not usually busy until later, filled up quickly after the race ended. A few men wearing Mercedes and Ferrari merchandise, sunburnt and exhausted from a weekend at the track, sat in their fold-out chairs waiting impatiently to get the hell out and catch a flight back to Europe or wherever. Between the Ferrari supporters decked out in red and the hardcore techno fans in black (the techno uniform), it was an unusual mix of people.
While Scavo was warming up the crowd, I headed over to the Moog side stage. I like to spend the early afternoon here while the sun is still blazing as the canopy of trees provides relief from the midday heat. The beats are also laid back and more relaxing than listening to pounding techno in the sun.
Bolting Bits crew member from Montreal Silktits was working the Moog crowd with an eclectic mix, followed by veteran DJ, and fellow Bolting Bits member Roberto. The Toronto selector played quality disco-infused house that had me tapping my foot from my seat on the grass. Another positive thing about the Moog stage: the slower, funkier beats contrast well with the dark and moody techno typical of the evening main stage line up. I didn’t stay seated for long, though, when U.K.-based DJ Seb Wildblood came on to close the day with a set of groovy deep house perfect for a hot and lazy Sunday.
Back on the main stage, the racing fans were in fine form as two of Belgium’s hottest DJs blasted the dance floor into techno heaven. Farrago, who co-produces tracks with the headliner Amelie Lens, played a minimal set to build up the crowd. It’s a great idea to book two artists who work together, like Farrago and Lens, because they inevitably complement each other and the transition between the two is seamless. Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of spillover bass from the side stage that could be heard during Farrago’s ambient breakdowns which took away from the atmosphere of his set.
“She’s killing it in techno right now! KILLING IT,” I overheard someone in the crowd say about Antwerp’s exciting Techno don Amelie Lens. Lens is only 28 years old, but the hype for the young DJ-producer, who recently founded the Lenske record label, is real. Judging by the anticipation before her set online and on the dance floor, this one was not to be missed. Lens could have stuck to her own releases and tracks from her label, but she also mixed in tracks by techno pioneers who laid the foundations like Plastikman. She played with an infectious passion and energy that transferred directly to the massive audience. Even the most exhausted Grand Prix fans were up on their feet for this clinic in raw techno and dance floor destruction.
Written by Rob Coles
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Danielle Kenedy