During the past long weekend, with all manner of wild personalities crossing through to enter Toronto’s EDM fanatic destination Digital Dreams, the main entrance to the festival welcomed those about to get their groove on with a large sign that said, “Welcome Dreamers.” To see the attendees was to instantly realize how perfect the sentiment was: thousands clad in the every colour of the rainbow, decked out in elaborate costumes that weren’t really costumes, but the actual skin each ‘dreamer’ was more comfortable in that whatever they have to wear every day for work, for school, or for no other reason than that society may deem it too ‘crazy.’ It was a clear message that this would be one festival that would embrace its headbanging, furiously dancing attendees with open arms. A place they could really be themselves for a weekend.
And what a scorching hot weekend it was. With a stacked lineup and weather straight from paradise, Digital Dreams more than met the expectations of the dreamers, which is saying a lot (it’s tough to live up to a dream, after all). Besides the endless thump of the best DJs and artists EDM has to offer—more on that in a second—the grounds were packed with activities like a massive cool pool where you got to slam into each other with the safety of inflatable ball suits, a giant obstacle course, free Kandi beads to create festival jewelry, a photo booth, a braid bar, and even giant Jenga at the Bacardi House.
But the music is what brought all these bright burning souls out to the edge of Lake Ontario. On Saturday, English DJ and producer Jackal, with a mess of cotton candy pink and shaggy hair, brought the daytime dance party at the Bacardi House stage, whipping the crowd up into a frenzy akin to a punk rock show. Behind him, hazy explosions roared behind a graphic of his name as weed and cigarette smoke, lit green by the lasers piercing the tent, wrapped around each other. Later on in the same spot, the straight-from-Cali stylings of Bassnectar ran rampant, treating dreamers to bone-rattling low end psychedelia. Across the way at the Echo Beach stage, 3LAU treated everyone to some chiller vibes as beach balls pierced the skyline and everyone grooved to the rhythms in the soft, cool sand.
On Sunday, all dreamer brothers and sisters were back in full force to worship at the altar of the blessed, epic drop. And Sunday was packed full of righteous drops. Audien provided the Dream Stage—a giant glowed-up wire behemoth that looked like it could come alive as a steampunk spider at any moment—with a sunshiney set, while across the water at Echo Beach, Eli & Fur played to their surroundings with a super beachy group of tunes, pulsing over the everyone as purple smoke swirled around the screens in front of them. Around the grounds, dreamers hauled inflatable toys of all kinds around: aliens, alligators, pineapples, minions, flamingos. Many draped themselves in flags of foreign countries (with a few Canadian ones, too), either showing support for their Euro Cup teams or simply announcing to the rest of the attendees that they were willing to travel across the world for the simple pleasure of losing themselves in the beats, going wild for the drops.
After a ferociously hot live set from Israel’s Infected Mushroom, the twisted psychedelic drops of Borgore took center stage, destroying all dreamers in his wake. Through his hard-edged, demented set of bangers, he dropped Drake remixes, urged the crowd to get every woman in the audience up on someone’s shoulders (they get a lot of them), did the same for the dudes, popped champagne all over the mass of sweaty bodies, pummeled everyone with videos of bizarre memes, and then had the front of the stage explode with massive amounts of confetti and inflatable swans and Bacardi bottles. He ended his set shortly after with a skewed remix of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” by Eurythmics.
Over at the main Dream Stage, Swedish duo Axwell / Ingrosso were closing the doors on the daytime, ending their ballistic set with “Sun Is Shining” as one of them addressed the crowd: “It just went down. But together with you tonight, we’re gonna bring it back up and make the sun shine together.”
Then, less than 10 minutes before Dutch megastar Armin van Buuren took the stage, Bud Light threw a mysterious countdown up on the Dream Stage screen. When the clock struck 00:00, a giant, disembodied head spoke, explaining to the audience that they were about to make history with the Bud Light Big Bang—the biggest drop there ever was. Then someone else appeared on stage as the music took off. “Who’s payin’ attention?! Who came to rock out tonight?!,” he yelled, and the audience yelled back enthusiastically. They prepared for the drop—everyone in the crowd, whether old school ravers or rookies, lifers or weekenders—and jumped at the exact moment streamers and confetti filled the air, and the bass hammer dropped all over the thousands-strong dreamers at Ontario Place. Lit up by the giant lights of the stage and dancing wildly, it was clear: Digital Dreams (Are Made Of This).