The case could be made that electronic music fans are the city’s most spoiled. It’s a bold claim, what with 77 Fest, Osheaga, and Heavy Montreal all taking up a solid chunk of marketing space on our social media feeds and metro walls, but those festivals take up mere hours (three days at most) whereas EDM fans have their pick of either Piknic Electronik or Igloofest pretty much every weekend for the majority of the year.
This was my second time at Piknic (read my first time review here) and by now I think I’ve got the whole thing down. There are anywhere between five and nine artists who perform on any given weekend. Each of these acts performs on either the mainstage or the second stage for anywhere between two and five hours. However, most of the crowd will show up in time to catch one, maybe two acts.
It’s a shame, because this edition of the festival was far more sonically diverse than my first experience, especially during the earlier performances. As I came in, the main stage area was all but entirely empty. There were a few diehards who were getting their groove on early, and a surprising number of people who made the conscious decision to sit cross-legged on the splintery wood-planked floor, but aside from that the space was largely empty.
G L O W Z I (that was rough to type) was at the tail end of her opening set on the secondary stage. As the kids say, that sh*t was hype. (Do kids still say that? Someone help me learn to speak 21.) It was real funky and full of easy listening disco samples. This was where people wanted to be. The hill in front of the stage was filled with happy groups, and the dancefloor was moving and expanding at a steady pace. G L O W Z I (still typin’ it) was a little camera shy, but seemed to be enjoying herself nonetheless.
After G L O W Z I (I hope you appreciate how much effort I’m putting into getting this name right) came Frankie Teardrop and her huge collection of friends. Seriously. I want to be this person. She had so many friends on stage with her and they were all having so much fun and taking so many selfies. It was heartwarming as fuck. Her music was anything but. It was heavy, cold, stark, tribal, and great for dancing. Ask the two Russian guys who found the dirtiest possible spot and decided to spend the next three hours barefoot swinging around in it.
Far and away though, the best act that I’ve seen so far at Piknic was The Fitness & Pony. It’s actually two guys, and sometimes The Fitness is just one guy and Pony’s not around, and sometimes The Fitness is collaborating with other people and calling it The Fitness & – Insert Name Here – and yes I’m largely confused by their whole thing can you tell they made me forget how to grammar what is even –
But they were amazing. The Fitness jovially mouthed along to his own samples as he worked tirelessly for just the right rhythm to keep the crowd engaged, and Pony provided some of the cleanest live hip hop vocals I’ve ever heard. Now, granted, his voice was being fed through a heavy number of effects, but credit where credit is due. And during the part of the afternoon where the majority of festivalgoers were trickling in exponentially, they made sure everyone who set foot on the grounds gravitated thoughtlessly toward them.
Closing out the second stage was Courtesy, whose beats were a little more European and a little more club ready. Thumping bass and big four-on-the-floor chord melodies were the name of the game. By this point, the space in front of the stage was starting to exceed capacity, so this was the perfect sound to keep people enclosed in a small space grooving.
Wolf + Lamb were probably the most rhythmically varied act to spin that day, bouncing back and forth from breakbeat to chilled out 808s and everything in between. And it did the trick, as by the time headliner Soul Clap came and brought things full circle with some really ‘70s inspired stuff, there were people climbing things they shouldn’t be climbing and crowd surfing everywhere.
It was hype, dope, fire, full of bangers, and a real good day. Am I hip yet?
Written by Syd Ghan
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Mike Milito