Igloofest, Montreal’s annual outdoor electronic music festival, now in its tenth season, returned this week for a massive opening-night filled with a brand-new setup and a world-class roster of DJ’s helping techno-fans dance away the winter blues. Igloofest takes place over four weekends between January 14 and February 6 in Montreal’s Old Port area. The first night was cold—so cold that winter gear was an absolute must, and that cheesy, multi-colour one-piece ski suit you found at Salvation Army but weren’t sure where to rock it was actually wearable, stylish even (there’s a one-piece contest that’s an Igloofest tradition). The music, featuring stellar artists Bonobo, and Lunice was hot, and the thousands of attendees didn’t seem to mind the sub-zero temperatures typical of a mid-January night in Montreal.
If you are fortunate to have checked out past Igloofests, you know that the music is not the only reason for going out dancing in the cold. The other reason is to check out the spectacularly elaborate site, which has enough entertainment and distractions to cause a complete sensory overload. There’s ice sculptures, an immersive light show, projections curated by different local VJ’s every week (the first event featured Ma”, Rémi Vincent A.K.A. Tetsouille, Push 1 stop, and Binocle), a photo-booth, interactive big-screen video games, a deer head, tuque vendors, Jägermeister bars, and so much more. The on-site amusements are fun, but are ultimately a big distraction from the real show: music and lights. The elaborate projections that Igloofest takes very seriously are also overwhelmed by the circus-like spectacle.
Amidst all this visual frenzy, it’s easy to forget that there are seriously killer artists performing on stage. Montreal homeboy and crowd favourite, Lunice, rocked the house with his distinctive trap and futuristic hip hop. Lunice has a memorable stage presence, having an uncanny ability to light up the crowd with an infectious, toothy smile, and over-the-top dance moves. The bass should have been more chest-thumping, but whatever; Lunice always gets the people hyped, and they loved every beat he dropped.
U.K. beat-master, Simon Green A.K.A. Bonobo, played a characteristically sublime set. He took people on a journey that started with his own stellar downtempo grooves from albums, Dial ‘M’ for Monkey, The North Boarders, and Black Sands, while continuing through some magical deep house, and ending his epic closing set with David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” It was a fitting tribute to Mr. Bowie, whose death this week at age sixty-nine was mourned widely on the internet and was undoubtedly still on everyone’s mind.
Igloofest’s tenth anniversary opening night did have its problems. The sound wasn’t loud enough, no doubt the result of noise complaints from cranky old-port residents. Also, complicating many a guest’s evening were the extremely long lines to get into the site. People were obviously frustrated by the lack of agents working at the entrance, and some were complaining loudly on Facebook about paying extra for VIP tickets, only to have to wait in a “special” line that was actually slower than the general admissions line. I myself had to wait in line for some time, causing me to miss Ryan Playground’s opening act. The takeaway lesson is to get to the site early so you don’t have to spend half your night waiting at the entrance.
I will be back at Igloofest on Saturday, January 16, 2016. Look for the next Bucketlist review shortly after.
Written by Rob Coles
Photography by Courtney O’Hearn
*edited by Danielle Kenedy