written by Nick Austin
Digital Dreams Quick Facts
Capacity: Medium (about 40,000)
Crowd type: local bassheads, trance lovers and everything in between
Music genre: Dubstep, DnB, Trance, Big Room and Tech House
How To Get There
Digital Dreams is held at the flats right near Ontario place down at the water front, and if you’ve ever been to Toronto, you’ll know that there are almost endless possibilities for how to get around the city. The GO train is one option (route information can be found here (http://www.gotransit.com/publicroot/en/default.aspx ); taxis and Ubers are also available, and can drop off festival-goers pretty much anywhere along Lake Shore. For those driving in, parking is located in lots across the venue for $20/day.
From where I was staying in the York University area I took a bus to the Downsview terminal, hopped on a subway to Union Station, then took the 509 Harbourfront street car as far as it goes. A bus that picks up at that station goes directly to the Enercare Centre, which is just a two minute walk to Lake Shore Blvd where the front gates are located.
Where To Stay
Within a 6.5 km walking distance are more then 12 hotels that are all great for festival attendees. I’ve stayed at the Westin Harbour Castle hotel in the past, which was spectacular but a bit pricey. AirBnB offers everything from small cozy single-bedroom spaces for as low as $49/night, to full houses or apartments for up to $900 (average price for a standard place was around $150).
I mainly stuck with a combination of pizza, gyros, and slushies all weekend. Other options included Smoke’s Poutinerie, beavertails, barbecue, and shawarma. All the food trucks were very easy to get to, and most were centrally located at the water by the main stage. Several free water refill stations made filling up bottles and camelbaks quick and easy—no long lines to prevent you from missing out on the music. Mixed drinks and beers could be purchased using your wristband (linked to your Visa/Mastercard), or with cash from vendors making rounds through the venue.
Even though the walk from the main stage to the Bass Tent was just a quick five minutes, no sound bleeding tainted my Digital Dreams experience. A huge circle of LED boards had the main stage looking like the ultimate rave rainbow, though the sound quality on day one left something to be desired (too bass-y, almost too much to hear the actual music). Fortunately adjustments were made by day two and the problem never reoccurred.
The fully covered Bass Tent was booming almost all weekend (save for a few volume adjustments on the first day), and the third stage at Echo Beach gave off awesome tech-loving vibes.
My favorite moment of the weekend was definitely during Bassnectar’s set, but this time, it wasn’t because of Lorin himself. A friend and I were back by the sound booth where Delta Heavy and Datsik were hanging out. They called us over, and I ended up getting to talk to Troy (Datsik) for a few minutes. As a longtime fan, getting to meet the super down-to-earth man behind the turntables is something I’ll never forget.
Artists You May Not Have Heard of But Can’t Miss
Forget about “may not have heard of” for a minute…Dirtyphonics, Pendulum, and Datsik had the most unreal sets of the weekend. Datsik threw down the dirtiest set on day one; the dubstep was real, and it may have been my favorite set I’ve ever seen him play. Dirtyphonics absolutely tore the roof off the tent on day two with a heavy drum and bass set that really set the tone for the night, and Pendulum closed out that day with a good mix of old fan favorites and new remixes (dropping some Knife Party was definitely welcome).
Things To Do
Not enough kandi decorating your arm? The Kandi World booth offered the perfect place to take a break and focus on accessorizing. Lay bags by the water also offered great spot to take it easy. Art installations between stages made for great photo opps, and souvenirs could be found at the merch tent by the main stage, or the vendors village by the Dream Stage.
Anyone looking for an adrenaline rush was more than satisfied by activities offered by X Infused. A huge knee deep pool with inflatable balls made for a fun game of knock-your-friends-over—same with padded bars and two elevated platforms.
Why Go VIP
The major bonus of going VIP for Digital Dreams revolves around the fact that the front half of the Dream Stage is all VIP viewing area, complete with its own bathrooms and bar. Echo Beach also had large VIP viewing decks on either side of the stage. Finally, VIP entry lines to the festival moved significantly faster than GA lines.
What Makes The Festival Different
A solid mix of chart-topping artists and underground tech/dubstep/dnb helped set Digital Dreams apart from other festivals in the area. Organizers did a great job of curating stages based on genre, and the after parties that were put on were a great way to keep the fun going (Sunday night’s after party featured the stellar combination of Armin Van Buuren, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, CID, and Mark Oliver).
After my fourth year attending Digital Dreams, I can say with certainty that the most important thing to note is that as long as you’re happy, the people around you will be too. This festival has given me some wonderful memories with my festie family, and it can do the same for you!