written by Nick Austin
Imagine a land where the bassheads run free, where the music is thick, and where you can ignore all of that and frolic around a wave pool if you so choose. Introducing Ever After Music Festival, a wicked 3-day event in Kitchener, Ontario. Only in it’s second year, Ever After stands out in the Toronto festival scene with a bass-heavy lineup and top tier production that makes us confident in its ability to grow even bigger and better in years to come. Read on and find out why this is a fest to keep your eye on.
Ever After Music Festival Quick Facts
Capacity: Medium (about 15,000)
Crowd type: Bassheads, locals
Music genre: Dubstep, trap
How To Get There
Ever After is held on the Bingemens Fairgrounds in Kitchener, about an hour’s drive from Toronto. Take the 401W almost the whole way (until you reach Cambridge), hop on to ON-8 and follow that until you can switch on to ON-7. Exit at Wellington Street North and turn right on Shirley Avenue, the fairgrounds are just down the street on the left. Parking is plentiful; a few surrounding store parking lots offered day parking, some of which was almost as close as VIP parking, located about a five-minute walk from the entrance. Taxi/Uber drop off and pick up was easily accessible in front of the event grounds, and shuttle service to and from Toronto was also offered.
Where To Stay/Camping
Camping is available for those who wish to enhance their festival experience by staying on the grounds. Bring your own tent (each camping spot can have up to six people in two tents), or rent a cabin for up to four people. Both options offer more then enough room for you and your festival buddies to hang out and relax before and after a long day of raving. If you and your group aren’t the camping type, the Kitchener/Waterloo area hotels and motels offer an equally popular option within 15 kms of the festival grounds. AirBnBs are available in the area and can be slightly more economical than a hotel room, depending on rates and how many people you intend to split the cost with.
Food trucks offer everything from Boston-style pizza to sweet beavertails, make your own slushies to lobster. We were feeling a little adventurous and decided to try the lobster mac n cheese balls (3 for $10), which ended up being some of the best I’ve ever had…highly recommend. All the trucks were easy to get to and set up in groups of about three trucks; if you didn’t like what you saw in one cluster there were always more to pick from. An area with picnic tables to the right of the main stage made for a good lunch spot where you could still hear the music and see most of the stage. A bar behind the lighting booth offered alcoholic beverages, and was organized so that those who wanted to indulge would have their ID checked and pay for a drink ticket that could be exchanged for a drink. A water refill station was located at the base of the hill beside the second stage.
The main stage was set up to look like a castle and was done rather well, with LED screens surrounding the DJ booth and a healthy combination of CO2 cannons and lasers. The gazebo-style second stage, hosting mostly local artists, was significantly smaller but no less exciting. Only in it’s second year, Ever After’s visual effects were particularly top notch, and stage layout was well planned: the two faced each other but were far enough away and divided by other structures so as to prevent sound bleeding. This relatively small festival lent an air of intimacy to each artists’ performance; Marshmello even got down into the pit to take photos with fans.
The whole weekend was definitely very bass oriented, and even artists that don’t normally have a heavier style (I noticed Dillon Francis and Sleepy Tom throwing down extra hard) put together heavy sets that the crowd readily lost their shit to.
Artists You May Not Have Heard of But Can’t Miss
Rezz and Zomboy hands down. Rezz played a lot of her own awesome stuff but mixed it up with other tracks, opening with Zeds Dead and incorporating a couple Deadmau5 songs as well. Some background for new Rezz fans (because anyone who’s heard her music has to become a fan): the young Niagara Falls native is living quite the success story. Inspired by Deadmou5, she hopped on to Ableton about three years ago and landed a song on mau5trap shortly after. Most recently, her exquisitely crafted EP “The Silence is Deafening” was released on the label to critical acclaim. Perfectly negotiating a balance of sing-able and catchy and dark and gritty, the EP is just one reason we can’t wait to watch her continue to take festival season by a storm.
Zomboy honestly never fails to fill a basshead’s needs, with intense drops leaving you non-stop head banging like a champ. For me personally, there isn’t anything better then a bass-heavy set to get the crowd going, and with Zomboy at the tables you know you’re in for a crazy time. A mid-set downpour only added to the insanity; bassheads truly know how to dance in the rain, and adding a little wetness to Zomboy’s down and dirty set really made for the perfect dubstep experience.
Things To Do
Though the weather didn’t necessarily lend itself well to swimming-related activities, an awesome-looking waterpark adjacent to the fest offered a wave pool and lots of slides people went ripping down all weekend… a particularly impressive element and one we have yet to find at any other festival. Carnival rides populated the midway area with a ferris wheel, two other spinning rides, and a few games. Beach volleyball courts were also available for anyone in the mood to link up with other festie squads and play a few matches. Anyone looking to kick back and relax a little could hang out on the hill overlooking the festival grounds, or by the second stage in a grassy area with inflatable structures straight from a fairytale.
Why Go VIP
VIP is worth it, depending on personal taste and the kind of experience you want to have. Would you rather be on a viewing deck, down in the crowd, or right up at the rail? A VIP-only viewing deck offered a nice elevated view, and ticketholders were also given access to a VIP-only swimming pool in the waterpark (very cool, I know. Who doesn’t like a good private pool?). As mentioned in How To Get There, the simple bonus of VIP Parking right around the corner from the grounds offers easy access without an extensive search through neighboring lots. The VIP area also had its own bar—with fewer people and faster service—and private washrooms.
What Makes The Festival Different?
Most Toronto/greater Toronto area festivals catering to this musical taste are in a city and therefor don’t offer camping, so the camping opportunity was a welcome difference that definitely stood out. Ever After is also the only full three-day festival in the area, and it clearly understands how to please its audience. Many festivals feature big room bangers with only a hint of dubstep and bass, making Ever After’s lineup a definitive game changer in the Toronto festival scene. I know there’s lots of bassheads in the Toronto area, and we all greatly appreciate this for sure.
A little wet weather last weekend was a good reminder to always check the forecast, dress appropriately, and pack a raincoat in case it rains (which it did, but without putting any kind of a damper on the festivities). Take not that Toronto temperatures can drop drastically at night. I found security to be pretty lean; entry was granted after a simple pat down. The earlier you get down to the grounds the better chance you’ll have of finding a close lot to park in for the day, which might save you a significant walk back to your car do after a long day of raving.
This was our first time adventuring down to Kitchener for Ever After Music Festival, and overall we were very impressed with everything from the layout to variety of food to stage set up. If you’re thinking of coming up to the Toronto area for a festival next year I would strongly recommend considering Ever After; it’s a solid fest that only promises bigger and better things in the years to come.