BESTIVAL TORONTO 2016 REVIEW
Despite the weather man lying to us so savagely about the weather, last weekend’s BESTIVAL music fest was top notch. Tens of thousands of fans descended from all over Canada to check out their favourite DJs and Producers at Woodbine park in Toronto.
People slowly started to make their way to the gate on Saturday afternoon and you could feel a hippie sort of vibe in the air; love and serenity. Surprisingly, not many floral headpieces were worn this year. With the few exceptions of wild characters in costumes that added the much anticipated flavour to the festival, it was mostly dress to impress (or google latest Coachella trends and replicate, which is what we did).
Once you got through security check (as effortless and smooth as a fresh pair of shaven legs), the first thing most fans did was check out the festival as a whole; the stages, the bathrooms, the bar, the bar, the bar, and the GIANT BESTIVAL sign situated on the Hill. There were plenty of places to drink! And the lines for the bar were not bad at all, despite the fact that the place was packed.
The festival ran on ‘cash only’ vendors, which made things so much simpler than the cashless system other festivals use. There were also multiple water stations that helped everyone stay hydrated, and allowed you to spend your money on more pleasurable items, such as the pork belly sandwiches and thin crust pizzas, and not to mention… booze.
The first DJ we saw was in the circus tent, New Jersey’s talented 4B – so we basically hit the ground running and stomping. 10 seconds before walking into the tent, we were calm & collected hipsters just checking out the scene, doing us.
But as soon as we got in the Big Top tent, we found ourselves wildin’ out to bass heavy tunes that incorporated hip hop and EDM effortlessly. One second we were grinding, and the next the grind turned into just straight up hip convulsions. We left the tent looking like we just spent the morning running a 10k marathon – hot and sweaty. 4B got us lit, faster than we thought was possible. We were snapchatting the whole damn time.
Later on we noticed a huge crowd building up near the main stage so we walked over. Before the music hit us, I tapped a stranger on the shoulder and asked “who’s going on now?” and she said “the love if my life.” That was when Jamie XX relinquished his tunes on the masses. His ‘head down’ stage presence oozed humility and the crowed took in every beat of every track as if they’re elevating into space and not planning on coming back. Deep house had us vibing and we loved it.
“Toronto doesn’t dress up!” said one angelic looking girl who was dancing near me, wearing top to bottom tie die with her hair in a tight blond bun. “I’ve been to a lot of festivals in my life, and Toronto just doesn’t dress up. People are here more for the music and nothing else. Oops, I have to go, I am in the parade, but I really want to hear Jamie finish his set.” She finished puffing on her cigarette and smiled at me, and proceeded to dance away.
We ended up on the other end of the festival and right away. Walking past the Vinyl Soccer field and the inflated love church (where peeps go to get married), I got transported across the world to India. I walked across the lawn of people lying down taking in beats that were coming from the distance and was blown away by what I saw. Shout out to the organizers of the event and whoever had any hand in creative direction – well done. You had me at elephants and monkeys. You had me at teal and pink. The attention to detail was immaculate. From the umbrellas that kept you shady and resting areas with eclectic fabric cushions, everything about the Bollywood stage had us feeling spicy.
On the Sunday, the Bollywood stage embodied sounds that were light and energetic, and kept the crowd dancing up a hypothetical storm. Bare feet and glitter, hula hoops and costumes – all a common site. Nothing was too eccentric or outlandish. Lee Foss did an exceptionally good job of elevating the mood and expectations. The American- born producer and DJ from Chicago now works in L.A. and London, but his music still draws from his hometown influences, as well as R&B, hip hop and 80s electro. His ability to be a diverse and insightful artist has been a key factor to his success. Foss also has a joint music label with Jamie Jones called Hot Creations, which has delivered releases from Robert James, Richy Ahmed, Danny Daze and many more. Establishing a strong connection with the crowd, Foss kept the energy high for a full two hours – and he’d have no issue spinning hits for another two.
Sunday fun-day was predominantly the vibe, with refreshing blasts of air hitting the animated crowd of dancers, movers, and shoe gazers. Everyone from mariachis to flower children were present on Sunday, and everyone appeared to be enjoying a pure form of happiness that came from the music, the infectious energy in the park, and from each other.
The main stage brought the biggest crowds and catered to families, girls who wanted to bask in the sun and anyone who was hesitant about all this music festival stuff. The crowd there was unbelievably friendly and strangers had no issues asking other strangers for hugs (or shrugs). It was a love-inspired event, after all.
As the sun began to set and BESTIVAL goers walked towards the exit gate to come to terms with the dismal reality called Monday, a feeling of joy and unbridled delight left with them. It will certainly be remembered as one of the best Toronto music festivals of 2016 yet.
All photos are taken by Devon Ambrose at www.swingarmshutter.com