Gone are the days when Canadian electronic music festivals paled in comparison to international offerings. European and American competitors have set the bar high and festivals like Astral Harvest and Motion Notion are working harder than ever to keep up with a unique combination of music, vibe and visual artistry.
One of the most important components of any music festival experience is the stage design. It is safe to say that electronic dance music (EDM) inspires some very whimsical, awe-inspiring and intensely complex stage designs, and these two festivals don’t shy away from that reputation. This year at Motion Notion, attendees can look forward to several new locales to dance away the day and night, including the Metasphere, a high-tech geodome equipped with video mapping projectors and intelligent lighting. Festival go-to guys PK Sound return to the scene with their own, tiki-inspired stomping ground, the Bamboo Palace. There will also be what they are calling “indie stages” that have been designed by fans and will feature documentaries and other artists.
Festivities of this calibre boast far more than a chill place to show off your best moves. This year’s Astral Harvest will include a large scale eco-friendly installation and artist-driven recycling initiatives. Like many events hosting a large number of guests over several days, they place great focus on maintaining their space each year. Parts of the grounds will be lit by a sustainable solar festival street lighting installation, entitled CloudCandle, and designed by festival décor design specialists Parastra, who also hosts a crafting class geared at keeping the North Country Fair grounds in pristine condition by recycling common festival trash into inventive arts and crafts.
Beyond the DJs, there is an added dimension of live performance pieces from visual artists. Astral Harvest will feature method painter Autumn Skye Morrison, who takes great joy painting in very public settings. “I see how much fun it is for other people to watch,” Morrison states. “It’s like I’m dancing up there onstage, only I’m dancing with my brush.” Both Astral Harvest and Motion Notion promote a more hands on approach to partaking in the festivities. Workshops are held focusing on anything from chakra-aligning painting techniques and poi spinning to more technical endeavours, like an Ableton intro class.
Beyond the lights, artists and DIY craft sessions, we’ll still get to be swept up by the addictive and unspoken tradition of personal costume design. After all, nothing says EDM like faux fur, feathers and neon.
Astral Harvest will take place from July 4-7 in Driftpile, Alberta, and Motion Notion will be held from July 25-29 near Golden, B.C.
By Adriana SveenAB, Alberta, Featured