Solaris Music Festival marked the last music festival of 2014 in Toronto, as it went down at the Direct Energy Centre on December 26 and 27. INK Entertainment and Live Nation brought in big names for the second annual event, including headliners Kaskade on day one and Skrillex on day two. The festival was previously only a one-day event, but it was extended this year forward due to the popularity.
Security was tight at the Direct Energy Centre, but it went by like a breeze. Coat check was organized and helpful on both days. Even though Solaris is a smaller festival, the organizers did not skimp out on hiring quality staff. Because of this, they were able run the festival smoothly and allow ticket-holders to thoroughly enjoy the show. The single stage was decked out with an LED-canopy with legs hovering over the stage and two big and bright displays with visuals behind the artists.
The first day of Solaris started off with Toronto icon Mark Oliver on the decks. As a seasoned professional and Toronto rave scene pioneer, Oliver knew how to control the audience and build his set accordingly. He was positioned as an opener, opposite American progressive house DJ Kaskade who closed out the show. Morgan Page, 3Lau, and Adventure Club played a blur of drops in between. Safe to say, day one started off great and ended great.
The buzz word on both days was Tchami, future house DJ/producer hailing all the way from France. As the crowd awaited his arrival, relatively unknown house duo Melvin & Klein started off the second day of Solaris with a pleasantly surprising set. Tchami played afterwards and he did not disappoint. He met my expectations and beyond with 90s influences folded skillfully into his set.
The majority of attendees at Solaris were under 19 (legal age in Canada), and as expected, big fans of Steve Aoki. Teenaged raver girls and neon bros danced their way over to the front of the stage as Aoki began his set. When the cakes rolled out from side stage, people popped up above the crowd on friend’s shoulders like gophers, in an attempt to get caked by the man himself.
Boys Noize were slated to play before Steve Aoki, but due to timing conflicts, his set time was pushed. The German producer and DJ brought darker vibes to Solaris, mixing in some industrial and acid sounds into his extended high-energy electro house set.
Finally, Skrillex arrived at the helm of the stage to a cheering crowd. He played the most memorable set of the festival with explosive energy, dazzling stage FX, and loud, booming bass. Some highlights of his set include when he dropped The Imperial March from Star Wars and his inspiring speech about love and positivity toward the end, stating:
“You all are beautiful! Give a round of applause for yourselves! All you, you too! I feel your energy, I can see an ocean of faces all sweaty, all crazy … Now we are going into the new year! This is crazy, the last few years. In electronic music in North America, Canada, everywhere over this area, it’s crazy. Because all this, you guys out here, doing this for years! Going, listening, this is our generation right now! And looking at the audience, I [see] so many different types of people! I see black kids, white kids, Chinese kids, Asian kids, Russian kids, Puerto Rican kids, Mexican kids — all you guys are here now! That’s amazing, man.
There is some special s–t going on in our generation right now. Let’s not take that for granted. We need, into the new year, let’s go in together. Let’s take this positivity over into 2015, because we need more positive s–t on this planet. I feel like this is what it’s about, man, we got 6,000 people here, no one is fighting and everyone is having a good time. I’m so impressed on this stage looking at you, I really am, I really appreciate your energy. So in 2015 let’s carry over this positivity, let’s spread it and make it bigger and better, and more soulful and more real than it ever has been before. But it’s not just up to me — it’s up to you guys! Really. I’m just one person, it’s all about all of you people, it’s amazing energy in this room.
This music is for everybody — it’s for the outcasts, it’s for the cool people, it’s for the fat kids, it’s for the skinny kids, it’s for the gay kids, the straight kids. The aliens! The yellow people, the purple people, the black people, the white people, No matter who you are, this is for you. If you see someone at your school, or at your work and they look left out man, all you gotta do, our New Year’s resolution is hand a hand out, in 2015 and say, “Hey, it’s all right. I know how it is.” Make some noise for love in 2015.”
All in all, Solaris 2014 was a success and we here at BestFan are looking forward to seeing a return to actively promoting positivity, or dare we say PLUR, in the electronic music scene.
(All photos by Ashley Emma Ng)