In the tolerant and temperate West Coast of Canada, a golden age of electronic music festivals is underway. Pick any weekend between June and September and you can bet there’s a festival with heavy bass, neon art and compassionate crowds. The lineups and speakers are stacked, the stages are out of this world, and the venues are natural wonders. The participants are creative, their outfits eccentric, and the drugs are powerful and plentiful. Unlimited possibilities, but limited serotonin, so which festivals to choose?
Electric Love is the new kid on the block. Its young, its brazen, but it’s also wise. The organizers are veterans, well connected and well financed. The location is unbelievable – it’s an hour and half away from Canada’s 2nd largest city, yet lush, wild and without civilization in sight. The production is top-notch. Stages are strictly PK Sound or Funktion One, with video mapping and space-piercing lasers to boot. In the golden age of electronic music festivals, it’s hard to stand out. But Electric Love has it dialed like your pupils and its growing like ganja.
Shortly after arriving on thursday night, I was bouncing to Slynk at the Zen Den, one of Electric Love’s five stages. Through the crystal clear sound of the Funktion One speakers, I struck up a conversation with the guy next to me, Ryan, who was grinning at what I can only assume he felt were fresh tunes. Despite looking a few years older then me, Ryan told me this was his first DJ show. Talk about a first time! We became fast friends and met up several times over the weekend. This scenario played out many times. I made a dozen new friends and met all sorts of different people. From toddlers to grandparents and ravers to rednecks, Electric Love is truly a melting pot. The atmosphere of inclusivity and proximity to Vancouver breathes new life into what can sometimes be a clique scene.
Friday night featured the Westwood Recordings showcase. Four sets of funk, drops and growling bass with K-Lab, Skiitour, Sticky Buds and The Funk Hunters. These producers and DJs have helped shape, if not create, the unique sound of West Coast Funk Bass. Maybe I made that super-genre up, so let me clarify: its apres-ski bass-house-bangers with a dubstep growl. Its g-funk party-mantras over too-deep-two-step. Its rumbling rainforest rasta-drum-and-bass. It’s happy, it’s droppy, and its made for PK Sound in the woods. It had the festival downright funked from 9 to 4, with breaks only for the 1s and 2s. It’s one thing to book great DJs, it’s another to sequence and curate a truly memorable festival night. Unlike Ryan, I’ve been to a few DJ shows, and Friday Night and Electric Love was one for the books.
On saturday I went on a tropical vacation old friends and new. Golden sand, fresh water and bumping beats on the beach. Still in Canada? Yup. The Wormhole stage, right on the banks of the fraser river, is Electric Love’s greatest natural feature. This ain’t no pebbly creek – the fraser river is more like a lake then a stream. Its wide and cool and absolutely swimmable. The mesmerizing stage design faces the revitalizing water, suggesting you to literally bathe in the bass. And when you feel as fresh as the coastal mountain views, it’s time to get down under it’s shaded canopy dance floor with international party veterans like DJ Dan and Ed Solo.
On sunday morning I packed up and left the festival grounds early, urban responsibility calling. Reflecting on the event three weeks later, Electric Love stands out as the most welcoming event of the summer. Some special combination of its participants, its location and its production set it apart – it’s hard to describe. Perhaps it’s simply Love.