Written by Ben Feuerstein
Photos by Fred Young and Kurt Hoop (cover photo) for Escapade
For the past 10 years, Escapade has been bringing EDM to Canadian ravers every summer, each year adding more and more to the experience. The vibes were on point, with the weather being fantastic both days. For the 10th edition, the festival completely sold out with over 35k people in attendance. Despite being sold out, this festival never really felt overcrowded and finding a good spot to watch your favorite artist was never hard. Escapade quickly won me over and has now become one of my favourite Canadian festival weekends. Most festival attendees come from the Montreal and Toronto areas, as Ottawa is a convenient middle ground for both.
Each of the three stages here at Escapade brought a unique experience and look that set it apart from the others. The stages ranged in size from the massive main stage to a smaller stage placed in a historical building and one farther out on the field of a nearby football stadium. A change this year was that they moved the arena stage outdoors on the football field. This allowed them to increase the capacity, giving the event more of a festival feel by having two outdoor stages. There was a Bud Light Canada lounge, which was offering an exceptional VIP-like view of the main stage. The VIP experience was enhanced with more washrooms, more seating and enhanced ambiance. There were more food choices in the vendor village, including healthy alternatives and vegan options on top of standard festival fare. The use of cannabis was allowed inside the grounds, as long as joints were brought in pre-rolled, in government sealed containers.
Saturday the Aberdeen side stage mostly focused on house music, aptly named “The House Party”, and on Sunday in turn it was all trance, named “Ferry Corsten presents Unity”. On Sunday the Temple of Bass stage was taken over by Deadbeats, with a lit-up Deadbeats LED logo placed on-stage.
Saturday night was closed out by DJ Snake on the main stage. Sunday saw a headlining appearance from Zeds Dead who played over an hour of mind-numbing bass. We started off with Blanke, at Temple of Bass Stage, who was warming up the crowd, then caught a bit of TYNAN before heading to Main Stage to catch Felix Cartel b2b Frank Walker followed by the Tropical House DJ, Sam Feldt. Then got to see Jeffery Stuorious, about which I’d want to mention that this was his last set ever using that alias, now that he is taking over the Dash Berlin name. The crazy energy from Gammer and Ghastly killed it! Chris Lorenzo b2b Jack beats was amazing, it’s the perfect vibe if you’re looking for Bass House. Kayzo was unreal! The man is on a tear with his rock collabs. Zeds Dead b2b Jauz took over the Main Stage, ended up being a perfect mix of heavy and bouncy vibes. It was a perfect combo from the bass house style of both, high tempo, and with new debuts dropped between the two artists. 12th Planet closed out the bass stage with straight dubstep filth! DJ Snake played hits like “Let Me Love You”, “Whistle”, “Turn Down for What”, “Lean On”, “Loco Contigo” and Confetti blasted with “Try Me”, finishing on “Middle”.
Sunday was a bit more focused. Here we saw Wooli b2b Kompany, which may have possible been the best set of the entire day! Bass Jackers b2b Breathe Carolina played, then Timmy Trumpet with hits like “Freak”, “Punjabi” and “Party Till We Die”. Wax Motif was wild. 1788-L delivered a solid set. Typical 1788-L style but nothing really new debut wise. The trance energy for Markus Shultz was great. Tchami x Malaa did not disappoint either. The Adventure Club guys were good, at least of what we saw of them. Lots of melodic dubstep. Tiesto was playing in place of Martin Garrix who was the original headliner but had to be replaced because of a serious injury, but we were at Zeds Dead who absolutely destroyed it, arguably the best set of the night! They debuted new stuff, exciting attendees to do epic mosh pits. The crowd energy and vibe were really good that weekend.
As far as afterparties, I went to Adventure Club at the Babylon which ended up being packed and very hot, so I did not stay long and made my way over next door to see Loud Luxury play at Barrymores. This was much bigger, being more open, with great vibes and went on very late. Ottawa is a beautiful city. We stayed an extra day and didn’t let our hangovers get the best of us. We went for a hangover brunch with TYNAN at Tucker’s Marketplace buffet which ended up being fantastic! There was plenty more to do in our off time, stopping by the at the Parliament buildings, bars, restaurants, but we took it easy and drove around, even getting a sightseeing tour from our Uber driver. Overall, Escapade wrapped up another successful year of bringing amazing EDM experiences to Canada.