Sat, Sep 6
Walking into the dark dance music tent at V-Fest, we were pleased to see that all that sponsorship money was lavishly spent on heavy-duty lighting and sound, making the tent feel very much like a proper club. Actually, if you didn't count the porta-potties, it was much better equipped than 90 per cent of Toronto's dance clubs.
Unfortunately, the next thing we noticed was that the schedule had been amended. Apparently, French electro house hotshot SebastiAn somehow missed his plane. A couple of hours later, another shakeup happened when word came in that Switch had also missed his flight from the UK. Since these were the top two names for Saturday's DJ lineup, this was a major setback.
While it's tempting to blame V-Fest organizers, both of these guys are starting to get a bad reputation for being unreliable and missing gigs. To fill SebastiAn's slot, they moved Drop the Lime to later in the day, which turned out to be a decent solution. While he's nowhere near as big a name as the guy he replaced, he's a creative DJ who deserves the attention. After getting the crowd moving with the standard electro bangers, he segued into throbbing dubstep and other flavours and tempos, a welcome break from the straightforward hipster house that dominated the space for most of the day.
Some frantic phone calls found a last-minute replacement for Switch; local indie-dance heroes MSTRKRFT stepped in to save the day. The crowd ate it up, but the style they play has become so ubiquitous that it's starting to get predictable.
Sun, Sep 7
The nu-rave-themed day one of the B-Live dance tent at V-Fest may have been cursed with absent headliners, but the old-rave second day went according to plan. The only airport-related mishaps this time was the loss of Deadmau5's trademark mouse-head costume, which meant that Toronto got a rare peek at what the heavily hyped producer actually looks like.
Turns out he doesn't need the gimmicks at all to rock a crowd, as he expertly proved with his live set. Instead of relying on records and CDs, he reworks his own recordings and inserts elements of other people's tracks here and there. In the coming years, we'll hear more and more electronic music presented this way, because when done well it can easily surpass what you can do as a traditional DJ. However, he might want to leave MC Flipside at home next time. While his contributions didn't ruin the set, he's not a skilled enough rapper to add anything.
When rave dinosaur Moby took over the decks, it was the complete opposite situation. Though he's been known more as a live act and producer for some time, this time he did traditional DJing, which was great news indeed. His recorded output over the last decade has been a bit of a snooze-fest, likewise his live performances, but as a DJ he's returned to his rave roots and still has the skills to pay the bills. Reworked dance classics were mashed up to contemporary dance-floor bangers, and he worked the mixer like a hungry young gun trying to make a name for himself. Now, if only he'd drop the boring trip-hop and go back to recording music that reflects this.