Walking along the scenic Rideau Canal on Saturday afternoon was a gentle transition from the sound of cars rushing by and into the pulsating bass from Ottawa-based duo Audiation, reverberating off Echo Drive as they opened the spectacular Escapade Music Festival. In 2017 due to the unpredictability relating to the overall weather forecast, many were left stranded outside in the rain as the indoor venues reached maximum capacity. This year, the hardworking team behind the fest’ were very well-prepared for weather related issues and much more.

We had the absolute pleasure of covering the Capital’s highly anticipated festival, and we truly cannot wait to share some of our favorite sets as well as unexpected and special moments with you all.

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Ottawa-based duo Audiation kicks off the bass stage inside Aberdeen Pavilion

Coming up to the gates, the overall layout was efficient, and well-organized, which allowed for a quick processing upon entry to the event itself. Surrounded by spectacular costumes and undeniably positive energy, the excitement radiated throughout the TD Place Stadium, setting the tone for the weekend’s adventures.

Spread over the increasingly popular Lansdowne Park, Escapade delivered a whopping 60+ artists, across 4 stages. The Trance/Underground Stage in the arena was a captivating pitch-black affair with accents of twinkling lights and light-up accessories for purchase. The platform consisted primarily of trance on day 1, and techno on day 2 – and trust us, it did not disappoint! The Videotron Stage was the bass-head lover’s dream hangout, and the complement of dubstep, trap and bass performances offered something for all attendees. The stage offered a free area to recharge attendees mobile devices and experience the VIP view also for free (probably the weekend’s best-kept secret). The Dreambox Stage was a small tent in a parking lot near the porta-potties, and had understandably less traffic. Although the location wasn’t ideal, it offered an alternative to simply waiting in line to use the washroom, and a chance to see some incredible Canadian talent.

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Continuing to jump into some of our all-time favorite stand-out acts, Russian producer Arty unleashed his trance project Alpha 9. The impressive performance was memorable as you could feel the joy pulsating throughout the crowd. The legendary trance veteran Markus Schulz headlined the arena stage, and played a sold-out after party in the downtown core after the festival. The Unicorn Slayer himself is well-known for his standout performance, and reinforced the fact as to why he is an A-lister in the world of EDM. Trance certainly kept us dancing throughout the day as Sander van Doorn absolutely dominated the stage with his very special performance as Purple Haze. Trance-lovers united in a wonderful display of peace and pure happiness. You could see the bliss on each and every one of the audience’s faces as the Dutch DJ unleashed a perfectly blended mix of upbeat, and soft-tempo tracks. The moment couldn’t have gotten any better – until we ran into the one and only DJ kärl k-otik. His approachable attitude and love for the trance scene was contagious. We couldn’t have asked for a better backstage host to guide us through the magic flowing through that arena. To top things off, Sander himself took the time to snap some photos with us, and his dedicated fans.

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Jumping into the true action of the festival, we continued our adventures into the bass stage area where things were getting lit with Sam Lamar and The Warriors. Later in the evening, Party Favor threw down an intense head-banging show, setting up nasty drop after nasty drop. Borgore closed out the night headlining the bass stage, where he kept away from playing his new jazz album, and instead lit up the Aberdeen Pavilion with lasers and flooded it with his classic bass sound. His army of dedicated fans filled the arena, giving security a run for their money as they tried to keep the venue to the appropriate capacity.

Escapade’s Main Stage had a slightly bizarre order of acts, slotting Kaskade, before Carnage, and rapper Ty Dolla $ign. Kaskade’s set occurred during a light rain shower, which only added to the amazing vibe in the crowd. The 47-year old electro house veteran proved that a little rain can’t stop the show, and his professionalism shined through the clouds. The Avicii vs The Who vs Tiesto mix he has been playing lately set the crowd on fire, and by the end of his performance everyone was soaked but undeniably happy. Kaskade was also responsible for setting the vibe prior to the fest’ as he warmed things up inside Alea, a club inside of the Casino du Lac Leamy – we did not attend, but from what we heard, it was nothing short of awesome!

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Luckily, the crowd cleared out enough during the rap set to secure a spot close to the rail for the Canadian producer REZZ, who played a mind-bending hour of slow, hypnotic new beat and techno. If you haven’t seen her before, she is well worth the travel time and ticket price. A mix of originals and tech remixes, the bass was cranked and walloped you back and forth to the beat. Her drops are sometimes complex, sometimes simple, and always a surprise. Her captivating and mesmerizing stage presence will leave you wanting more.

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“Space Mom” Rezz electrifying the crowd at Escapade

To finish off day 1, we had the opportunity to witness one of the hardest working producers in the industry, Alesso. Although his performance started off strong, the energy in the crowd started to die down as many partygoers were gearing up for the highly anticipated after parties (i.e. Sydney Blue, Carnage and Markus Schultz). For the people who stayed, they witnessed some breathtaking firework displays, as well as a magical tribute to the late Avicii. If you were there, you could almost feel as if Avicii was watching the crowd sing along to his classic track ‘Wake Me Up’. It was the perfect way to end day 1.

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Lastly, speaking of memorable moments, there is one that truly stands out among the rest. A romantic marriage proposal unfolded on Main Stage and left the crowd cheering for all of the downtown core to hear. Congratulations to the happy couple!

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Bone-weary, stiff and hoarse from 10 hours on Day 1, we tried and failed to pace ourselves for day 2. The excitement was just too real as we were ready to launch ourselves from stage to stage to see as many outstanding acts as possible. Despite the lack of energy, we managed to check off quite a few of our top picks from our bucket list; check it out!

Sander van Doorn hit the Main Stage, accompanied by the biggest smile that never left his face right through to the end of his set. It was obvious how much he loves his job, and was a real joy to witness.

Armin van Buuren took the Escapade Main Stage just as early as Kaskade the day before, and played a home-run State of Trance set. Red and white streamers, dancing around with a Canadian flag and fireworks placed Armin firmly into the top 3 acts of the weekend. Track after track kept eliciting cheers from the crowd, renewing our tired muscles and making us all dance right until the finale of his new track ‘Blah Blah Blah’.

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After Armin, SLANDER shook the city at the Bass Stage. Trap, drum and bass and dubstep outweighed the occasional regretful Post Malone remix, and the highlight of their show was definitely a concert-goer in a wheelchair getting crowd surfed to the very front, partying just as hard as SLANDER was behind the decks, cheering in excitement.

One happy concert-goer gets crowdsurfed to the front of Slander’s set / via Ian Thompson

Bass and techno enthusiasts rejoiced on day 2 as impeccable acts such as Technasia, Mark Knight, Chus & Ceballos (check out our exclusive interview here), SAYMYNAME, Whipped Cream, and Bear Grillz among others took the stages.

Day 2 was a breathtaking experience. To top things off, a stunning double rainbow filled the sky during Tchami‘s performance. We mean seriously, does it get any better than that? Until next year Escapade, we can’t wait to see what you have in store for your 10th anniversary!

Brittany Provost & Ian Thompson of EDMTunes / via Brittany Provost