The City of Toronto has one of the oldest and most well established electronic music scenes in North America and they also host two of the largest music festivals in Canada as well, Digital Dreams and Veld. The last weekend of June meant it was time for the Digital Dreams Music Festival located on the shore of Lake Ontario with the Toronto skyline as a backdrop. The day before the festival I was able to clear up my schedule so I went online and bought a one day ticket for the first day on Saturday.
My main interest in going on Saturday was for the trance lineup that featured Alex M.O.R.P.H., Andy Moor, Super8 & Tab, Arnej, John 00 Fleming & Christopher Lawrence and Simon Patterson. The rest of the stages were stacked as well with names like Justice, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Nervo, Carnage, MakJ, Dyro, Deep Dish, Danny Tenaglia, Nicole Moudaber, Claude vonStroke, Flux Pavilion, Noisia, Bro Safari, I Am Legion, Crystal Method and many more. A pretty diverse lineup for just the first day of the festival. The second day featured Tiesto, Dash Berlin, Eric Prydz, Fedde Le Grand, Luciano, Paco Osuna, Victor Calderone, Andy C, Excision and the list goes on.
Travelling to Toronto is a three-hour drive for me including going through customs into Canada, it’s a drive I’ve been making for many years and not that big of a deal. An easy sacrifice for some great music.
I pulled into the parking lot for the festival around 3:30 PM, almost two hours after the music had started and proceeded to the will call line. Arriving after the festival had already started a line was to be expected but what happened next was not. We arrived in line and stood there. And stood there even longer. We didn’t move for at least 45 minutes. There was no indication why the lines weren’t moving and no communication from festival organizers or security. Everyone just stood there. The mood of those in line went from excitement to frustration to being tired to just accepting it and getting to know those around you. Surprisingly everyone was peaceful. There were definitely jokes shared though about who would lead the way charging into the festival as we approached the three-hour mark.
At one point in line I tried calling Ticketmaster to get someone on the line but continued to get a recording saying they were busy and to call back at another time and the call hung up.
We shaved some time off the wait by jumping into the customer service line and by the time we got our wristbands it had been approximately four hours and 25 minutes. Enough time to watch a couple of movies. That’s the same amount of time it took me to fly to Las Vegas for Electric Daisy Carnival. There were others behind us in line that ended up being there for five hours. It seems hard to believe that a line just to get tickets that were already paid for could take five hours but it happened and it was painful.
Someone in charge of the festival must have known how long people were waiting and given the sun, heat and humidity there wasn’t one moment where anyone offered any water for free or even to buy it. Thankfully there weren’t any medical issues in the line (17 people from the festival were hospitalized though) but it could’ve been a bad scenario.
Once inside I immediately headed to the Fantasy Land stage, a beautiful stage with Lake Ontario as the backdrop. I was able to hear two sets, John 00 Fleming back to back with Christopher Lawrence which was already in progress and then the last set of the day with Simon Patterson who ended up playing back to back with Arnej to close his set. Those four DJs played some amazing and relentless psytrance and Simon Patterson and Arnej closed with 142 bpm techno.
From what I hear all of the stages all looked and sounded fantastic. Unfortunately I spent more time in a will call line than inside of the actual festival and by the time I got in I headed straight to the Fantasy Land stage that hosted the trance.
There hasn’t been any word from the festival organizers, not even a simple sorry. They clearly saw the Tweets and Facebook messages and the reviews on their Facebook page share similar complaints.
The easy answer would be to arrive earlier but with tickets still available online the day before the event and will call as the only option it should be expected that the logistics would be in place to handle the walk up crowds, not make them wait five hours. And again, this was for people who already paid for tickets. It wasn’t trying to buy tickets, it was just to pick up the passes to get in. A complete failure in planning by the festival organizers. There’s still no response from festival organizers towards anyone who experienced this.
Those who were able to pick up their wristbands ahead of time and make it into the festival all appeared to have a great time. It was a nightmare on the outside though.
Here’s some of those reviews: