Canada – U4RIA Trance Festival Journey
Befitting of its name, U4RIA Trance Festival was just that; a place filled with euphoric sounds and vibrations felt throughout Toronto’s Lake Ontario
For the first time ever, the Toronto Trance Family held their first all-exclusive trance festival hosted by Electric Escape. Since 2015, Electric Escape has helped keep the Toronto trance scene alive by hosting a myriad of events in venues and nightclubs with local and international talent. The demand for shows catered around trance music has become very popular in the US, as well as Europe and elsewhere around the globe. With such events as Insomniac’s Dreamstate and shows overseas like Transmission and Luminosity, it goes without saying that Canadians would feel the same way about having an event in their backyard.
Following the success of A State of Trance, In Trance We Trust, Amsterdam Dance Event, and so many other festivals that have come about in recent years, many diehard trance fans are willing to make the journey overseas to see their favorite artists. Because of the success of these shows, it was time for Canada to shine within the trance community with its own offerings. U4RIA was held near Lake Ontario at the magnificent Toronto Event Centre with dangling crystal chandeliers as lights and lasers reflected off each piece. A VIP section was off to the left with a massive bar running down the right side of the building, leaving the center main stage with tons of dance room.
U4RIA started off with Canadian’s finest representing the pool stage; Somna began with uplifting everyone’s hearts as they walked in with a smooth, melodic set. He definitely set the mood properly for what awaited everyone the rest of the night. Next up was Sheridan Grout, another Canadian local with banging beats which brought up the tempo and energy for Memory Loss. Being one of my favorites amongst the acts I witnessed during the weekend, Memory Loss had amazing energy, an eye-catching presence and mesmerizing tracks which showcased her raw talent nicely.
Coming across the pond along with many artists was the one and only Ferry Tayle. A master of uplifting-trance and bringing the right amount of melodic tunes, Ferry Tayle was a crowd favorite, raising the spirits of everyone around with beautifully produced trance tunes that serenaded the crowd right before the Finnish duo Super8 & Tab. They started during such a perfect time of day as daylight turned to night, dusk was setting the mood as its energy ascended once acts like ReOrder took over. His high energy kept the crowd engaged within, moving and dancing as he has done in past shows. I loved his energy and passion. Ending the stage outside was a special set that was rumored to be Key4050 but instead was ReOrder back-to-back with Ferry Tayle.
Just around the side towards the end of the second pool, a stage dedicated to all the Canadian locals kept it going for both days. Ranging from progressive trance to psy-trance and uplifting, each local artist had their own unique style and sound. Playing the first day were Rayz, HRN, Brian Longmire b2b M45 and Jay Jay. All three stages with their completely different tunes reminded me so much of Dreamstate in Southern California. It was trance, trance and more trance as you danced your way to each stage. Once the main stage opened inside, another one of Canadian’s finest and part-owner of Electric Escape began his U4RIA debut; DeeCee. Another first-timer for me, DeeCee was full of energy and charisma as any great opener should as everyone was getting ready for the main headliners.
The main reason I traveled many miles soon came to focus as back-to-back segments of all my favorite Music First Artists. Up first, the talented Craig Connelly started off with my favorite Lost Without You, one of the many amazing tracks recently released on this year’s Subculture compilation. With such a powerful and driving uplifting vocal set, Craig is one of my newfound favorites and definitely not one to miss if you ever get the chance at seeing him live. With so many beautifully written pieces, Craig also played another one of my favorites; This Life with vocals by the beautiful Roxanne Emery. It was definitely a goosebumps-worthy track.
Marking my third time seeing Cold Blue this year alone, I always love hearing his work with such beautifully smooth uplifting melodies that literally takes your mind into a journey of the unknown before snapping you back into reality. It’s what I love most about Cold Blue sets; in particular, when he played The Clash and Learning to Live (also out on the new Subculture CD) which are my two favorite tracks composed by Tobias. As Cold Blue finished his set, the Italian stallion Giuseppe Ottaviani was setting up his Live 2.0 equipment which allows him to create music and melodies on-the-fly. One could tell if they’ve ever seen any of these specially branded shows that he was ready to hit us with newly made tracks along with classic bangers like Jakarta and Scarlet just to name a few. There’s nothing quite like watching Giuseppe play with his instruments and create such beautiful tunes out of thin air, giving off wonderful vibes every time.
The boss of Subculture himself – John O’Callaghan – came on shortly after dropping his new vocal Joint Operations Centre track Behind the Silence. It was a track which many of us can relate to and feel the pain within the music, a quality JOC has been able to do skillfully with his music and fans. It’s why I love his sets. Kearnage maestro Bryan Kearney closed out day-1 as his 138-bpm tracks had everyone dancing to their cars dropping all my favorite tracks like Stealth Bomber, Anti-Social Media, and his new single Open My Mind. Seeing both men across four different countries made U4RIA one of the perfect settings to witness them play on the same night; a perfect way to end the first day.
Day -2 started with a heavy set of Canadian local stage with the likes of Lars Pedersen, KZ, Niles Baxter just to name a few. The center pool stage saw Karl K-otik starting things off along with another set by Somna. With Ashley Wallbridge taking the dance floor by storm, he set things up for Indecent Noise, Alex M.O.R.P.H, Standerwick with Haliene while closing the night out with Mark Sherry.
The main stage kicked off with Jimmy Chou, Heatbeat, David Gravell, and my favorite Jordan Suckley. Bringing over his 3FECT concept from EDC Vegas, I was excited to finally enjoy it without anyone bothering or killing my mood. MarLo surprised many with his beautifully chosen vocal tunes, trance anthems, giving the crowd tons of energy as the night began to wind down. Closing the final day was psy-trance guru Astrix. With hypnotic beats and some Vedic fusion, Astrix is one of the few psy-trance artist I enjoy.
This two-day trance extravaganza saw over 5,000 trance fans from all over the world, ranging from across United States to Mexico and even Europe. With 21 international artists coming from all parts of the world, this was definitely a perfect way to start the festival season as spectacular sunny weather and mild humidity made dancing and lounging at the pool a dream come true.
Traveling to three different countries this year to escape some personal sadness, it was an absolute pleasure to embrace my love for music and to meet like-minded people who shared in this wonderful experience. Thanks to the well-organized efforts of Electric Escape, it was worth it; from the experience, setting, interacting with trance families worldwide, and everything made every penny spent worth it.
U4RIA was everything I thought it would be and more. I can’t wait for next year’s announcement so I can plan accordingly and bring more friends with me next time.
Thank you, Electric Escape.