Review by Calvin Barr
Photos by Daniela Tantalo


The complex relationships between digital experiences and human imagination have evolved explosively since Windows 95 and The Matrix. And it goes without saying that music has been no small contributor. One of Southern Ontario’s biggest and rowdiest EDM events of the summer, Digital Dreams offers not just an incredible party, but an opportunity to celebrate that.

Housed in the heart of Ontario Place, the event boasted a goliath, arc-shaped main stage, fully loaded with dozens of strobes, smoke machines, confetti guns, two massive video screens, pyrotechnics, and mind-bending sound quality. Even more impressive was the intensity of the rapid-fire stage strobes in hard, afternoon sunlight. Dead central to massive venue lot, the platform housed an epic line-up of DJs, including Bassnectar, Above and Beyond, Knife Party and Armin Van Burin.

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Fists pumping, and ablaze with the musical energy detonating from the stage, the artists masterfully used variable intensities, paces, moods, and rhythms throughout their sets, resulting in phenomenal performances. Spreading across the spectrum of heavy bass, trance, and dubstep, they kept the crowd in an unyielding EDM daydream with their own hit tracks and red hot remixes.

As far as outdoor music festival venues go, Ontario Place not only has the advantages of extra facilities and plenty of shade but is also large enough to give a big audience more than enough space. The restrooms, water stations and food and beverages trucks are easily accessible, spread out, and well-kept. The food venues, while serving plenty of pizza and poutine to replace burned up carbs came with plenty of cold-serve and light options to alleviate a labyrinth of beer and sun dehydration

The event also kept its audience going by providing variety. While the main stage hosted many of the headlining DJs, a second outdoor stage blasting House music was set at the opposite sides of the canal to prevent audio dissonance between the respective sets. Another area geared towards hard dance was set up in a tent to keep the extra-sweaty scene a bit cooler. The whole event extended across both sides of the pavilion, giving the audience a chance to wander around, relax on the hillside, and take a break from the all-day extreme shuffling, jumping, and dancing.

The crowd itself was one of the coolest parts of a show. I was approached by and subsequently chatted with a number of people who were curious about why I had a laptop. In every case, they admitted that the reason they were attending wasn’t for any one DJ, but to enjoy a weekend getaway with their friends, and lose themselves in some of their favorite music on a spectacular dance floor.  Especially if you’ve attended and enjoyed VELD or Ever After, Digital Dreams is definitely a Torontonian summer jam worth checking out.

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