[Event Recap] Riverside Festival 2021 Was Nothing Short of Spectacular
On Friday, October 1, 2021, through Sunday, October 3rd, 2021, spooky season kicked off on the right foot! It was frightening to think it has been nearly two years since we attended a music festival due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the day we had been waiting for had finally arrived. Riverside Festival was back - bigger and better than ever. We could barely hold back our screams of excitement!
Despite the momentary new dates, Halloween wasn't quite on the table yet. However, that didn't stop partygoers from wearing some eye-catching costumes! Ahead of the festival, attendees were notified that this year's edition would look a little different as the virus is still sweeping our globe. In addition to the temporary grounds located at the Place des Festivals Zibi, there would also be 4 distinct zones of 500 attendees.
Each section was identified by a unique mascot of sorts. It wasn't long after we entered the gates that we noticed a couple dozen ravers sporting shark onesies. Section 2 really showed up; it was beyond fin-tastic to sea! Seeing little acts of unison like this reminded us about how special the dance music community can be. The sense of togetherness and the wholehearted feeling of living in the moment is like no other!
It goes without saying, but the atmosphere was incredibly dynamic and we couldn't wait to experience the weekend with so many likeminded individuals, especially after so long. We were even greeted by a friend holding a balloon that read, "Welcome Home" - words cannot express how well it summarized that moment.
As we danced passed the sea of sharks, we were blown away by the festival's grounds! You could tell the organizers put a lot of thought into the layout. After the security guards performed a thorough search and examined our vaccination records, we were casually guided towards the merch tent. It was fully equipped with the festival's brand-new clothing line and it was run by kind and energetic volunteers. Free buttons were also distributed.
Food trucks were next to the merchandise tent. They offered a variety of options, including some festival favourites like poutine and burgers. Picnic tables were also available for those who didn't want to boogie with their food amongst the crowd. Best part, they provided a perfectly centered view of the stage, guaranteeing participants would never miss a set.
Furthermore, each section had their own bar and bathroom areas. It reduced the usual long wait times and allowed attendees to enjoy more moments during the festival. Moreover, partnerships were expertly present, including Olivier Primeau's hit Beach Day Every Day alcoholic malt drinks that were served at the bars. New flavours were offered and other beverages were reasonably priced.
The vibes were high as we made our way to our section. We could feel the bass rush through our body and we couldn't wait to get a better view of the stage. We were welcomed by a charismatic security guard that expressed his love of dance music. It was obvious that passionate individuals are what make this experience one to remember!
On the topic of safety, we can confirm we've never felt more at ease at a festival. The organizers went above and beyond to not only follow, but also to implement additional COVID-19 precautions and regulations to ensure all attendees remained safe. In addition, first responders were also on-site to aid anyone who may have needed it.
Due to the reduced capacity and distinct sections, we found ourselves having much more room to dance. In addition, it allowed us to find our friends much easier compared to pre-pandemic festivals. For these reasons, it got us thinking - perhaps these new regulations are something to consider post-virus...
As we were soaking in the atmosphere and the realization that we were back on a dancefloor, we shifted our focus to the stage. The sheer magnitude and extensive design was jaw-dropping! It was hands down the biggest stage Riverside has ever implemented. A huge shout out to the team who assembled it - it must not have been an easy build!
Friday's festivities attracted some of the area's biggest bass heads. It always makes our hearts feel full seeing music lovers' faces light up when they hear a hard-hitting tune. The basslines resonated with many as they headbanged along the rail. With the new setup, there was no shortage of gates - you can imagine just how many people were riding the rail!
KAT 2 KAT and CHRMNDRS threw down some heavy sets on opening duties. When the legendary Doctor P took the stage, you could almost feel a higher power take over the decks. No doubt in our minds, the bass Gods were watching in sheer delight!
As the night progressed, we ran into some familiar faces; many of which we hadn't seen in ages. One of the best aspects about festivals is that you never quite know who you may run into. We ended up bumping into the local legend Chefnier. He expressed his excitement to perform on Sunday, but he also shared he was thrilled to witness these captivating sets.
At this point in time, it didn't matter which section you were in, the energy was off the charts! It was now time for the headlining act, the one and only Subtronics! Fresh off the heels of his infamous Lost Lands 2021 set, the American DJ was ready to prove why he's one of the best artists in the game.
Within minutes, Subtronics practically hypnotized the audience with his impressive musical abilities. He masterfully unleashed a wide-range of dubstep and riddim-heavy tracks, all while mixing his signature sounds alongside the most unexpected transitions. From the moment he stepped on stage to the moment he walked off, he had every single attendee bewitched through his beats!
Day 1 was a true success! We ended the night by attending a local house party. To our surprise, some of the area's biggest DJs were playing a secret set. We discovered HAMRO and finally got to see BIG KIM perform. Be sure to give these artists a follow, they're on the verge of stardom - trust us.
With only a couple of hours of shuteye, day 2 was already in full swing! Unfortunately, Canada's capital was blessed with a downpour of rain. As predicted, many festivalgoers opted to wear rain gear. That said, the organizers also distributed 500 free ponchos within the various sections. Their constant generosity and predictability of events was very admirable.
Lucky Rose was on opening duties. The French-Canadian duo wowed with their signature mix of catchy hooks and blissful tunes. When Dave Summit took the stage, he instantly impressed with his chart-topping singles such as 'Future Dancefloor' and 'Satellite.' Respectively, he had one of the best sets of the weekend. There wasn't a single attendee who wasn't vibin'!
Headlining acts Bassjackers and Cash Cash both delivered memorable performances. When they dropped their classic anthems, it brought us back to the golden age of EDM. Notably, when Cash Cash played their iconic track 'Take Me Home' featuring Bebe Rexha, we couldn't help but smile. The cherry on top was when the rain sprinkled down and a remix of The Cranberries 'Zombie' was played; it felt like magic. Everyone was singing in unison, like time had stopped for just a moment.
Other standout highlights included when we spotted many talented shufflers cutting shapes. We highly suggest you check out the Ottawa Shufflers - they are always doing the most for the local dance community. If you're looking to learn some moves, definitely give them a follow. They often host weekly shuffle meet-ups.
Lastly, one of the best moments from day 2 was when we met a couple of DJs from North Bay. They had told us they were good, but after seeing their small social media following we had our doubts...It wasn't until an after-party later that night that we quickly realized we should not have judged!
No word of a lie, NAVILUS and Young threw down one of the best sets we've ever heard! These small-town boys deserve all the recognition in the world. Flag fam, let's start by growing their socials following. To this day, we still can't believe the level of talent we heard that Saturday night. It was absolutely mind-blowing!
Day 3 quickly snuck up on us; but we suppose that's what happens when you're having fun. Luckily, no rain was in the forecast, but good times were! Chefnier was on opening duties and unleashed his signature melodic, yet hard-hitting tracks! Huge props to this artist for his continued dedication to his craft. It's clearly paying off.
Carl Müren, the weekend's master of ceremonies, did a fantastic job keeping the energy levels high and audience engaged throughout the various performances. GESES delivered a lyric-heavy performance which kept everyone singing and grooving along until the very end!
When SNBRN took the stage, we instantly had a perma-smile. It had been years since the American DJ was on our must-see list, and that moment was finally here! He played some of his best-selling hits, such as 'King Kong' and 'Never Let You Go.' Not to mention, he played 'Riverside' at Riverside! We can die happy now...
Even better? We caught up with the skilled musician backstage. He was incredibly down-to-earth. Following that epic interaction, to our amazement, KSHMR nonchalantly appeared. He was wearing a Hogwarts sweater and was super laidback. It's not often we get star struck, but when one of the world's best producers blesses you with their presence, it really takes you aback...
After some fun-loving discussions, the legend himself took the stage. It was immediately evident as to why he's one of the greatest artists of all-time. Not only were his anime-influenced visuals spectacular, but his masterful way of mixing his tracks were a sight to witness. It can only be described as powerful...
We would like to extend our sincerest thanks and appreciation to every single individual that aided in making Riverside Festival possible. Each and every one of you played an important role and it does not go unnoticed. We can easily say, this edition was the best one yet and we can't wait to see what next year holds.
Many photos within this article are courtesy of Matthew Perry.