Piknic Electronik with Chus + Ceballos & more – Parc Jean Drapeau – June 30th, 2019 – Montreal, QC

Summer belongs to the young and the young and heart. Nowhere is this more obvious than at a music festival like Montreal, QC’s annual love letter to rave culture, Piknic Electronik. It’s one of the few places where recklessness is encouraged, immaturity is applauded, and freedom is held sacred above all else. Also, everyone gets wicked smashed.

I’ll confess that this was only my second time at an EDM festival (my first was up in the woods, didn’t have actual to any bathrooms or other amenities and also probably wasn’t entirely legal?), and probably only my sixth or seventh time at any live electronic music event overall. I was also (mostly) sober, so there’s that.

I arrived around 3:00 PM. The early morning rain had stopped, but the mist remained and the ground was chocolate cake. Still, the sun was peeking out over the clouds and it seemed like the rest of the day might actually turn out to be pretty awesome, weather-wise. A couple of people passed by me covered in mud (did they fall in? Were they throwing it at each other?) but most people’s shiny (skimpy) Summer outfits seemed otherwise intact.

The festival features two stages; a main one at the base of a shallow hill, and a secondary one a little hike upward just out of earshot. There are also a number of other activities available for those who need a break from leg-shaking or simply just aren’t into hanging out on dance floors including beach volleyball and other game stations. The food trucks were out in droves and mostly surrounded a large no smoking area covered in picnic (I get it!) tables.

One of the food trucks was offering spaghetti. If you’re the type of person who eats spaghetti at an outdoor music festival, please know that I love you.

There were also the infamous $25 buckets. Here’s a tip I learned from a happy revealer: you can collect the discarded cups and buckets from around the festival ground and return them for their respective $2 and $3 deposits. If you can this enough, you may even be able to earn back your festival expenditures. You can only return up to a specified number of these at a time before you have to return to the back of the line, however. Also, don’t go around stealing cups and buckets from people who haven’t even finished their drinks yet, just so they can make a quick buck. Apparently people do that. Don’t do that. What’s wrong with you?

The daytime slot on the Piknic stage belonged to Alex Pycke and his lo-fi, tribal beats. During Pycke’s performance, there was a set of gold balloons being held up toward the front of the crowd that collectively spelled the DJ’s last name. As the beat’s stark melody cascaded through the oh-so-thrash-metal progression of C, D, and E, my compatriot and I debated whether or not this music was compositionally less technical than anything on Metallica’s first four albums. I maintain that it’s not. Fight me, internet.

While the main stage seemed to be where the largest concentration of dancers was, the Boisé stage was more of a spot for people to chill, catch up, or find friends. OJPB’s beats a little more fast-paced than Pycke’s but also not quite as heavy. I think half of his face was painted blue, but that could just have been my imagination.

As more and more people began to trickle onto the grounds, the crowd in front of the main stage spread out like vines. When headliners Chus + Ceballos appeared, a huge cheer echoed throughout the park. Where this duo from Spain really differed from the other acts on the bill was in how they controlled and guided the crowd through the party – and was it ever a party. Though they didn’t have microphones, the pair mixed vocal cues and strong samples (you can never go wrong with Stevie Wonder) into their production that kept the crowd engaged through the effervescence. People who had perhaps been more shy and reserved at first found new confidence in the night under the cover of dark; the area was lit only by the stage, by the drink stands and food trucks off just off in the distance, and the glow sticks and colourful clothing on literally everyone. It was like one of those movies where the teenagers are partying and having a good time and everything gets all blurry. Of course, in the movie there’s probably a serial killer hiding in the bushes. That didn’t happen here though. Anyway, it was fun.

Can’t wait for the next one!

Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy

About Syd Ghan 194 Articles
Syd Ghan is a Montreal media man, born and bred. After spending his formative years playing music on stages big and small across the city, he transitioned seamlessly into a career as a full-time writer, editor, and content manager. He has reviewed numerous bands both in concert and on record, written for a number of different blogs and online publications, been both a host and featured guest on various local podcasts and radio shows, and has even logged time judging live music competitions. In his spare time, he enjoys engaging in spirited debates over the finer points of pop-rock radio and he’s never met a chicken wing he didn’t like.

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