Photo Credit & Written by: Rebecca Hollman
Located at Parc Jean-Drapeau, in the heart of downtown Montreal, IleSoniq is one of Montreal’s only all EDM festivals. Following in the footsteps of its big indie brother Osheaga, IleSoniq takes place in the same venue one weekend later. This year’s lineup featured Diplo, DJ Snake, Tchami, Laidback Luke, The Chainsmokers, and Rusko as headliners. Besides the main stage headliners, IleSoniq also curated a trance stage and deep house stage on Friday and a rap and bass stage on Saturday. Check out more about each day broken down by stage below.
On Friday, the Oasis Stage kicked off with a set from Wavo, followed by future bass sets from Apashe and 4B, then into a main stage bass house set from Valentino Khan. From there, the stage switched over to heavier bass with sets from Herobust, Black Tiger Sex Machine, and KAYZO. KAYZO also played the official IleSoniq pre-party at MTELUS the night before to kick-start the festival.
Following KAYZO, the Oasis Stage had headlining sets from Diplo and DJ Snake. Most of the festival seemed to be at this stage, which doesn’t surprise me given the scene in Montreal and Canada as a whole. I’m always a huge fan of Herobust, as he is from my hometown (shout out Atlanta) and he always manages to throw down pretty heavy sets. Another set that took me by surprise was KAYZO. I had a preconceived notion of what kind of style KAYZO was based on the people that generally liked them, but I was very surprised by their set at IleSoniq. Their inclusion of hardstyle and jumpstyle into their bass sets is actually something really new and refreshing. Besides hosting the main stage artists for the day, the Oasis Stage also had a massive VIP viewing/seating area, the most vendors around the sides of the stage, a flat, paved asphalt dancing surface, decent light production and awesome sound quality.
The Mirage Stage was “the house stage” on Friday and was hosted by Bud Light. Music started off at with Banx & Ranx, then into a bass house set from BIJOU, followed by more mellow deep house sets from Shaun Frank and Klingande. From there, we had sets by some of the biggest house names in the scene right now- Shiba San, Green Velvet, and Tchami.
Shiba San is a French tech house producer on the Dirtybird record label known for his hit track “Okay.” He has his own record label, Basement Leak, and just put out a new EP through Dirtybird (check it out below). Green Velvet is from Chicago and has been making house music almost since the birth of house music in Detroit/Chicago. He has his own record, Relief Records, and also has an alias Cajmere, that produces funkier, smooth house. Cajmere also has a record label called Cajual. Tchami, another French producer, took over the EDM scene by storm recently and has essentially curated his own subgenre of house music. Although I love Tchami, I feel like he has gotten mainstream in the past year and more recognition needs to be given to other smaller artists on his record label, Confession.
Check out the Basement Leak, Relief, Cajual and Confession SoundCloud pages by clicking their names. The Mirage Stage was an overall decent stage, with average light production, a huge area that could hold tons of people, an astroturf dance floor and a slightly less than expected sound system. Anything behind the sound booth was extremely quiet and distorted by the people in the crowd.
Friday at the Neon Stage was all about Anjuna. I was surprised at the amount of Anjuna and trance fans that were in Montreal. This was honestly the most packed of all three stages all weekend. Trance fans are a special kind of EDM fans – generally older, more into the music than partying, and much much bigger supporters of the artists that they love. I’m always so happy to spend time around trance fans, and this stage was no exception. The vibes emanating from the music and the crowd always make trance events seem so much more magical.
Music started off with Oliver Smith, into Spencer Brown and Jason Ross. From there, the Neon Stage had the old school legend, Ferry Corsten, followed by Ilan Bluestone, Andrew Bayer, and Cosmic Gate. To close out the day, there was a b2b2b set with Cosmic Gate, Jason Ross, and Ilan Bluestone. This was my favorite stage of the weekend because it had the best sound quality by far. The ground also was a moving, vibrating platform suspended over a river which was pretty neat and unique. Check out the Anjuna Records SoundCloud page below to listen to more trance and Anjuna artists.
Check out more photos from Friday by clicking below:
The Oasis Stage on Saturday also featured a nice mix of all genres of artists and was the main stage for the day. Starting with music from Vito V, the stage went into an awesome early day set from the Dutch duo DROELOE. From DROELOE, there was an improv set from Bynan– replacing Paul Oakenfold’s spot later in the day because of a delayed flight. After that, there were sets from Lost Kings, Andrew Rayel, Loud Luxury, Laidback Luke, Steve Angello, and finally – the Chainsmokers. Overall, it was a pretty basic, mainstage house kind of a day.
Saturday at the Mirage Stage featured mostly rap artists all day long, as well as a few other bass house and bass artists. Music started off with Fafa Khan, into a bass set from Deadbeat’s GG Magree, into bass house sets from London On Da Track and JOYRYDE. From there, the stage switched over to rap for the rest of the day with sets from Bhad Bhabie, Lil Xan, Lil Yachty, and French Montana. There was also a heavy bass set from Carnage in the middle of the rap sets. French Montana closed out the stage.
The Neon Stage was the bass stage on Saturday, with straight back to back to back banger heavy bass sets. Starting off the day was FROZEN, a local Quebec riddim producer. Following FROZEN, were sets by Axel Boys and Krimer, another Montreal native. From there, the Neon Stage had sets from Party Thieves, Gentleman’s Club, Trampa, Eptic, 12th Planet, Rusko, and Ganja White Night. The stage was mobbed with people going so hard during the day sets, but kind of tapered off by the time Rusko and Ganja White Night played.
Most people migrated towards the main stage for the Chainsmokers and so missed out on Rusko and Ganja White Night which were my two favorite sets of the entire weekend. This was the first time I’ve seen Rusko since 2012 and it was a very nostalgic set for me, and lots of others there as well. Rusko was huge during the 2009-2012 dubstep explosion and was one of the pivotal DJs during that period- along with Skrillex and Flux Pavilion. He stopped making music and touring because of an episode of cancer, and has just now come back to touring in 2018 from a full cancer recovery. Not only was his set amazing because of the nostalgia of the dubstep days and when I first got into the scene, but it was also amazing because of the remixes of old songs he did and the song choice. He really has evolved to make a sound that goes hard in 2018. I was worried that it would just be a set of songs produced in 2012, that he played in 2018 but he really modified some of his older songs to be more slow and low bass vibes or to drum n bass tracks. I can’t give him enough accolades for his recovery, this set, and his new music that he has been putting out recently.
Check out his new track with Bassnectar below. Ganja White Night capped out the weekend with a more melodic and chill set for them, but still super heavy. The Belgian duo has such a unique sound and played an amazing set right after Rusko.
Check out more photos from Saturday by clicking below: