[Event Recap] Festival Riverside Was the Reunion We All Needed
It's unquestionably bittersweet to send off festival season for another year. While most are on a high from our series of musical adventures during the summer, many others are ready to slow down their hectic schedules now that fall has rolled around. Nonetheless, Festival Riverside is always an event that we look forward to due to its praised level of production; and, it's also a chance for its attendees to reunite on the dance floor, one last time, before these facts come into play...
Recently, we had the absolute pleasure of attending the ninth edition. It's nearly shocking to acknowledge that the festival is approaching it's highly-anticipated tenth anniversary milestone. Ahead of the event, we took a moment to let that reality set in, and we began daydreaming about the soon-to-be epic instances that would await us this year. To add to the excitement, the organizers unveiled, arguably, their biggest lineup to date. Truthfully, our excitement levels were off the charts!
The programming promised performances by some of the biggest names in dance music such as R3hab, GRiZ, Dillon Francis, and more. As a veteran in our community, I can vouch that the founder, Marc-Antoine Massicotte, has been considering booking some of these names since the very beginning. Notably, Oliver Heldens has been on his radar since 2016 - it was a sincere pleasure seeing some of his dreams become a reality this year.
With that being said, we want to extend our sincerest thanks and appreciation to all of those who played a part in making Festival Riverside an actuality. Every year, we are left practically speechless by the spectacular results. Spoiler: this year was no different - in fact, it continued to blow many of our expectations out of the water! We can't wait to share some of our favourite highlights; so, let's dive right in...
On September 9th, 2022, we were ecstatic to kick-off our escapades during the final festival of the season! Our instincts took over and guided us towards making the most of this experience. We planned some of our most extravagant outfits to date - not excluding Kandi Braids to finish off many our looks. Fully decked out in ravewear, we began our journey towards Gatineau, Quebec, to soak up every minute of this occasion.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by friendly staff, and even bumped into the festival's opener, Dashi! Instantly, we felt overcome with pride. We had conducted an interview with the up-and-coming producer earlier this year. Thus, seeing him take the decks during his first headlining festival performance was truly special to witness. On that same note, it was fantastic to see how many others, including local talent, arrived early to show their support.
With nothing but positivity flowing through the air, we began to explore the festival's grounds. Following last year's brief location change due to the pandemic, it was uplifting to see the event hosted at its rightful location. Not to mention, there weren't any necessary COVID-19 restrictions in place in comparison to the zones that needed to be enforced last year. In our opinion, that alone was worth celebrating!
As usual, the vast space behind the Canadian Museum of History offered a stunning spot to host many of the elements attendees have come to appreciate. For instance, the jaw-dropping view of Parliament Hill and the Kandies World's stations. This year, participants were treated to complimentary activations such as glitter stations as well as large-scale games like Jenga, Beer Pong, Connect Four and more.
Our prayers to the rave Gods must have been answered as this edition was hands-down the warmest in history. Therefore, it was great having a Mr. Freeze stand available and designated zones by the water to cool down. On the topic of food, attendees were very spoiled this year as a wide-variety of food trucks were on-site. Each vendors offered an excellent selection of items, ensuring to satisfy all dietary restrictions and food allergies. The tacos were our favourite!
Throughout the evening, participants witnessed some mesmerizing visual productions. In particular, Drezo and R3hab's pyro and motion graphics were impeccable! As the weekend progressed, they seem to become even more eye-catching. We'd like to give a huge shout out to the audiovisual and other technical teams for delivering some of the best work we've seen at Festival Riverside so far.
Speaking of unforgettable moments, we particularly loved Dave Summit, Drezo and R3hab's performances based on our own genre preferences and their overall stage presence. Unfortunately, Chris Lorenzo fell ill prior to the festival - therefore, Drezo took his place. It was quite admirable to witness him command the stage while running on zero rest. He even broke the sound system by unleashing his dark/imaginative productions. Simply put, he's a weapon!
Looking ahead at the lineup, we secretly wished for Drezo to extend his stay as Dillon Francis was scheduled to perform at the festival on Sunday as well as at City At Night as DJ Hanzel (his beloved alter-ego). To witness the duo go b2b, once again, would have been iconic! Sadly, this wasn't possible. Nevertheless, we appreciated how the weekend played out and were grateful for the individuals who stepped up to fill in the gaps.
On Saturday, we couldn't get to the festival's grounds quick enough! The lineup was stacked with some of the most sough-after artists in the music industry. We couldn't believe how blessed we were to have the opportunity to see them perform; there were even some we had never seen play live before like Ray Volpe and Frank Walker. That being said, we hurried to scarf down some rave fuel (junk food), and quickly made our way to the stage to catch each set!
Kicking things off was our new discovery, VLOOUE. The rising DJ set the tone for the day by dropping bass and progressive house anthems; ultimately, she kept her audience engaged and grooving to the beats! Up next was the multi-talented PAQS. It was no surprise to us, nor to his family that were present, that he delivered a high energy and captivating performance. We even caught up with the skilled musician following his set - keep it locked for that and also for our exclusive interviews with Dave Summit and Festival Riverside's founder...
The remainder of the festivities that took place on September 10th, 2022, felt like a fantasy of sorts. Even when we're reminiscing about it now, it's almost hard to comprehend the sheer level of epicness that went down that day. Many of the artists played some of their new and even some unreleased IDs; notably, Oliver Heldens tested out the 1st version of his 'I'm Good (Blue)' remix for David Guetta and Bebe Rexha's hit single. Personally, we loved it! Also, his HI-LO-heavy set and him shuffling in front of the decks fulfilled our greatest hopes!
In addition to Helden's monumental performance, there are a few other honourable mentions that we must note. Ray Volpe surprised us by his entertaining stage presence, not excluding his funny speech noting that it was still too bright for lasers, but that he would still be dropping his praised 'Laserbeam' track even without them. The audience roared in delight - nearly as much as when he walked the crowd to meet his fans! GRiZ wowed the crowd with his self-described future-funk productions and saxophone skills.
There's no question that Saturday brought a wave of excitement. The exhilaration didn't seem to come to an end as a curveball hit mid-festival. Our favourite MC, Carl Müren, hopped on the mic to deliver some unfortunate news. He confirmed Habstrakt wouldn't be able to perform due to flight delays, though he would make it in time to play his headlining after-party set that Audioform spearheaded. Consequently, many of the scheduled sets were extended.
While it was no secret that some partygoers were disappointed by the revelation, others, like us, appreciated the fact that the Festival Riverside's organizers quickly found doable solutions to the circumstances at hand. As such, it wasn't long before they took to their official social media channels to announce the glorious news. On Sunday, JOYRYDE would share his allotted set with Habstrakt for a historic back to back performance!
When Sunday rolled around, our curiosity overcame us as we couldn't wait to discover what the future would hold. For some reason, it was clear to us that the final day of the festival would be extra special; our instincts and the atmosphere pointed to endless positivity. The local talent (WAB, Ghetto Birds and TIZI) warmed things up nicely as many festivalgoers got a later start to the festivities.
When Riordan took the decks, we were left smiling from ear to ear! His soulful house and tech house mixes hit us right in the feels. We're looking forward to following his promising career moving forward. This was another artist in which were thrilled to add to our recent discoveries list. Following this memorable set, Vicetone took the stage, and delivered their recognized mainstage worthy performance.
Switching things up from the previous set, AC Slater brought forth his signature "Night Bass" sound. If you're unfamiliar with the label boss' work, it fuses most infectious elements of house music with the dirty basslines of UK garage and sprinkles of old-school rave synths and breaks. In our opinion, he unquestionably delivered one of the best sets of the weekend, hyping up all those who were in a listening distance.
Following AC Slater's dynamic performance, it was time to witness history unfold... JOYRYDE and Habtrakt were about to go b2b! As the organizers mentioned during their announcement, the talented artists are real-life friends. Therefore, this fact was immediately apparent as they both fed off of each other's electric personalities and their praiseworthy musical abilities. In all honesty, it was an incredibly special thing to witness. We were entertained from start to finish!
At this point in time, Dillon Francis took the decks to deliver a fantastic closing set. Moreover, as the ninth edition slowly came to an end, a wave of gratitude swept over us. Festival Riverside has always been a big highlight of our summer. Not only do the organizers and other team members involved deliver an amazing result, but it also allows us a meeting point to celebrate our community. To all of those who shared a hug, smile, laugh, etc., with us, thank you for brightening our life and for sending off festival season/the summer in the best way possible! We hope to see you on the dance floor soon, Flag fam.
Photos courtesy of: @moose.vision & @antonyphoto