By Karolina Kapusta
December 26-27, 2016
VANCOUVER — “Yo Vancouver, I wanna see some fucking energy tonight!” Los-Angeles based DJ and producer Drezo, known personally as Andre, yelled into the crowd as he dropped another ass-shaking, stadium-trembling banger.
Drezo, known for his darker and elusive take on house music that has been resonating through the underground music scene, was the first act of the night at the annual EDM centric Contact Winter Music Festival this year. Although Drezo has played twice in Vancouver previously (at Celebrities nightclub and M.I.A.), the open space and sound system made his solid deep house set one of his best yet. He played like a wizard in the massive BC Place Stadium and set the bassline high for the night.
Mija followed up Drezo with her own wavy, emoji-studded performance. Also known as Amber Giles, Mija is a DJ and producer from the Southern United States. After becoming familiar with the rave scene as a promoter, Mija began DJing and rose to notoriety after playing a back-to-back set with Skrillex in 2014. She is known for her hard-hitting “fk a genre” sets, which is her way of refraining from categorizing her sound. Turquoise pigtails bobbing, she played her characteristic aggressive explosion of bass, weaving in R&B, trap, hardstyle, happy hardcore, and whatever else she wanted. Mija had a great set; no one can deny her bass-heavy, high-spirited performance, which kept the audience engaged, as well as her trippy visuals and adorable self.
Gareth Emery had one of the most impressive sets at festival. A U.K. electronic music producer, DJ and melodic master, Emery has been playing trance and progressive house around the world for over a decade and has played in Vancouver multiple times before. As the lights went down and the volume turned up, Gareth Emery’s set started on a striking grandiose note, with the screens on the right and left of the main stage giving the illusion of a wider set. The next hour felt like a restorative journey as sunny vocals washed over vibrant synth lines and lasers outshone the crowd, his blissed-out set keeping the crowd in sync.
Flume, an electronic music producer hailing all the way from Australia, also known as Harley Edward Streten, closed the first day of Contact. The intensely talented artist has been dominating music charts and the electronic dance music world since he first burst to the scene in 2012. After a building up of atmospheric music, the dark curtain concealing the main stage dropped, revealing the young producer and an array of hanging cube-like LED structures above him. He opened with the song “Holdin On” while accompanying colourful visuals of floating silhouettes floated behind him.
A lot of his performance was a flashback to his first studio album from 2012, Flume, and his popular original remixes. He played beloved bass-shaking tracks like What So Not’s remix of Major Lazer’s “Get Free” and his starry-eyed remix of Disclosure’s “You and Me.” Woven into his set list were the newfangled sounds from his 2016 album Skin with tracks like, “Say It,” “Wall Fuck” and “Smoke and Retribution” with the hanging cube structures above the stage reacting fondly to each song. Accompanying his music were custom-made visuals created for the album, both hyper realistic and surreal graphics of flower arrangements. To everyone’s avail, he not only dropped his radio hit “Never Be Like You” to a darkened, glittering stadium but also an intense remix of RL Grime’s “Core.”
Flume gave a brilliant closing performance to Contact attendants. With a sound that is both tentative, current, and hype, he had the crowd enrapt with old and new tracks married perfectly to his avant-garde set decor. He ended his set with a gust of undone, enigmatic and emotional sound as he beat away at electronic drums and his pastel-coloured graphics wrapped around BC Place Stadium’s impressive strip of screens. Flume’s bold sounds, pretty lights, and vibrant visuals, showed a very different side to the EDM scene, one that is highly thought out, textured, and inspired at this year’s Contact Winter Music Festival.BC, British Columbia, Contact Winter Music Festival, Drezo, Flume, Mija