Photographs by Dakota Arsenault.
The sun bore down (mostly) on the beautiful grassy fields of Downsview Park as thousands of patrons poured into the venue for the fourth annual VELD music festival this past weekend. We piled on in just in time to see The Chainsmokers take the main stage and jumpstart the crowds energy with their popular house tracks such as “Let You Go,” “Roses”, and of course 3 different renditions of “#SELFIE.” Starting out in New York City, these guys have an immense love for Canada, playing most of their major festivals. Just as they were gearing up to play some of their final tracks, the main stage was temporarily shut down due to inclement weather. So of course, the boys from The Chainsmokers came back to hang out with the media folks. We caught up with Alex Pall and he didn’t seem all that phased. “We were just gonna play 15 minutes of Selfie anyway.”
In addition to the massive main stage, there was the Bacardi Untameable Tent on the far side of the park. Kill the Noise took the decks and shook the sandy ground with his heavy distorted glitch hop sound. He charged the crowd with the Flux Pavilion collaboration, “Freeway”, and his new track with Tommy Trash, “Louder”. During his time onstage he frequently hyped the crowd, shouting out a few ravers and matching their energy.
Steve Aoki brought his unmatched hyperactive style to the main stage with his classic party style electro house tracks. His recognizable tracks pumped through VELD’s massive sound system with his famous tracks like his collaboration with Lil Jon and Laidback Luke “Turbulence”, as well as his remix of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness”. Just as the set got going he jumped up on the mixer and chucked a cake as far as he could out into the crowd, leaving his audience covered in bits of frosting cake and confetti.
Over the past few years, Veld has been trying to diversify the lineup by including hip hop acts. Last year they booked Waka Flocka Flame (who was a no-show due to double booking himself) and Iggy Azalea (who cut her set short by 30 minutes). This year the first non EDM act was ILoveMakonnen, a rapper who rose to fame by having his song “Tuesday” remixed by Drake and subsequently sidning him to his OVO label. ILoveMakonnen entertained the Bacardi Untameable Tent all while showing off his Toronto appreciation by wearing a TFC jersey. He of course ended his set with “Tuesday”, making every one very happy in the process.
Kaskade took his spot as the sub-headliner with his happy-energy and progressive house tracks, including his latest two tracks “Disarm You” and his remix of Jack U’s “Where Are U Now”. He prompted many ravers to start cutting shapes all through the field with his dance oriented heavily synthesized sounds. Originating from Chicago, he came into prominence in the late 2000’s with the likes of Wolfgang Gartner and of course the main headliner of the night, deadmau5.
To close out the second stage the festival entrusted ASAP Rocky to bring in a crowd to hold people over while deadmau5 set up his Mousetrap stage setup. The ASAP Mob seem to have an intimate connection with the EDM world as fellow member A$AP Ferg just completed the Full Flex Express tour with Skrillex. His set fused traditional hip-hop beats with electronic flourishes to appeal more to the crowd at hand. He blasted through a fairly long set list comprising of old hits like “Pretty Flacko”, “Goldie” and the Skrillex produced “Wild for the Night” while busting out plenty of new songs from his newest release A.L.L.A including “L$D” and “Electric Body”. A female fan threw a lacy red bra on stage and Rocky gleefully held it up before tossing it back into the crowd. The set was marred a bit by the need for Rocky to stop the show to allow paramedics to get into the middle of the tent to aid a festivalgoer who had unfortunately passed out.
The lights were lowered, the stage was black. Green laser lights rose to show the cage dome, which eventually opened up to reveal deadmau5. What always impressed me with deadmau5’s performance is that he never uses other artist’s music. Everything he played during his 2 hour set was of his own creation. He played some of his most famous tracks such as “Ghosts and Stuff” as well as “Sofi Needs a Ladder”. He didn’t say anything during his set but his hype was still crazy as his mau5head bounced from side to side and bright white lights shooting out of the eyes, only taking it off when he was visibly too warm.
Although the weather wasn’t on our side, resulting in the cancellation of Day 2, Day 1 was still a major success, with many more years to come!
Thanks to Live Nation Ontario for media access.