Igloofest is celebrating ten years this time around, and I had the pleasure of attending on a mild-weathered evening this past Saturday the 29th of January.
Upon entering at about 8pm, Mandiz was supplying spaced-out, trippy beats at a nice tempo to ease in the newcomers. I was a bit surprised to find the scene empty except for maybe 40 people ready to get the night started pronto. I took full advantage of the scene to get oriented with the newly-vamped site with two stages before the inevitable crowd of ravers flooded every last inch of the place.
I’ve experienced a few Igloofests. I was there the first year this idea for a chilled-out party came to fruition, and ten years later it was like my first time again. All the components were still there, including the calm seating area by the fire barrels where you can warm up your hands and roast a few marshmallows. The light shows were incredible and larger than previous years, and the VJs took the front stage with eye candy for all those that were there to enjoy the ambiance Igloofest is so good at.
I wandered over to the other stage where Nymra & Sofisticated held down the ones and twos to a smaller crowd than the main stage. They were working hard, blasting techy breaks and trying to get the listener’s booties shaking with somewhat successful results, though the crowd was nowhere near full enough for it to be a real party. Luckily, the evening’s air was not too cold, however that doesn’t mean it was fine to dress up in just a baseball cap and running shoes, or in a kilt and blazer as one brave festival goer did. I want you to go and have a good time, so dress up and don’t let the weather spoil what could possibly be the best night out this winter. I would fully advize the non-initiated that you put on snow pants and your toque, or buy an Igloofest toque while you’re there. Also keep in mind that though the temperature might only be -1C when you get there, by the time it’s midnight it’s usually five degrees colder, and all that alcohol you’ve drunk is only going to make it seem cooler.
Speaking of drinks, my job is to review the event; but tradition is tradition, so I had to head over to the bar and ask for a huge Sapporo beer. I was excited to see and hear the producer’s and see the visuals, but another important aspect of the night is to enjoy the good vibe and the costumes the great people of Montreal always bring with them. The crowd was filling up quickly; I noticed people wearing onesies ranging from a Giraffe to a Superman British Columbia dude, fur coats, wolf head hats, face paint, and even lighted sunglasses. Igloofest organizers even made sure to get in on the fun by having two huge, furry, white Sasquatches jumping around, dancing, and posing for photos with anybody who wanted.
Almost two hours later on the main stage, Heidi was tearing up the scene with an up-tempo tech-house set. I headed back to the bar for a warm cinnamon-spiced red wine, then went to check up on the smaller DJ stage with La Fleur blasting her set full of minimal house and techno.
A light snow started to descend on us, adding accents to the laser light show. As I walked from one stage to the next I wondered why they had two different areas playing very similar styles of music. Perhaps it was merely to give a few of the local DJs a chance at having Igloofest added to their portfolio, or maybe it was just to give the antsy a destination to go to. Either way, my opinion is that two stages is unnecessary unless the music and vibe is going to be very different.
Last up on the main stage was Al Ester who began with a bit of a sound glitch; by “a bit,” I mean that there was no sound for about 20 seconds. When his set did start, he came in hard with the fastest tempo of all the sets. Jumping up and down, he played a ferocious onslaught of banger after banger with no build-ups or fade-ins, just straight, to the point house party music.
Then came Carl Craig who shared the headlining spot with Al Ester. Carl Craig kept the party people dancing just as you might expect from a pioneer of the house music scene.
At 11:55 I made for the exit gate where a fight had just broken out and bouncers were pounding away on a few unruly guests. I squeezed through and hoped this wasn’t a regular occurrence for security or for guests of the event.
All in all it was a great and memorable night as Igloofest usually is. As for the dude in the kilt, he did not look anywhere near as rambunctious at the end of the night as he did when I first saw him. Maybe next time he’ll forgo tradition and put on some undies.
Written by Enzo Catania
Photography by Courtney O’Hearn
*edited by Kate Erickson