Sunburned, gaunt and greviously underslept, the average Torontonian party-goer is in rough shape this week after the World Electronic Music Festival, or WEMF 2007 this past weekend. To nobody’s surprise, WEMF isn’t dead, international trance DJ Ryan “OS/2” Kruger isn’t retiring and the image of thousands of ravers from the city camping in an Ontario field for three days is seemingly burned into Toronto’s collective tube. It is estimated that over 5,500 people, mostly from the GTA and upstate New York, attended the three-day festival at the Niagara Regional Exhibition in Welland, ON.
This year’s event, organized by Destiny, Goodfellaz and Projek, promised a return to an all-dance format as last year’s Cutting Edge stage becomes this year’s Cutting Edge Music Festival in Grand Bend, Ontario next weekend. WEMF headliners included one guy from Pendulum, Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys, MSTRKRFT, Mark EG, Hatiras, Brisk, UFO, Jen Mas, Brak and AC Slater split up among three main stages. There were also a number of smaller, renegade soundsystems, set up by generator-toting beat junkies from around the continent.
The grassy location of this year’s WEMF was a massive improvement over last year‘s dusty campground in distant Tweed, and it would be a surprise if it wasn’t used for the festival’s fourteenth year in 2008: local response from the Welland community of 50,000 was surprisingly positive, in stark contrast to places like Orangeville whose residents spent WEMF’s weekend there constantly calling the police. The short drive from Toronto and one’s ability to get real food in town are also major bonuses. Allan Benner, a writer for the Welland Tribune, makes WEMF sound like a church picnic in his several candy-coated, feel-good articles about the festival. It seems like the estimated $1 million injection into the local economy was well-received by a town that has seen several industries closing local employment centres, and Welland’s mayor, Damian Goulbourne, expressed interest in creating a “niche for culture in Welland,” which may result in the construction of a major concert hall for future music festivals.
The event was not without its hiccups, such as an advertised-but-disappointing early music shutdown on Friday night, a building whose aluminum walls sounded positively awful from outside when rattling with the heavy bass of the hardcore stage, a handful of broken promises, and the usual cracked-out, sketchy things people do when they’ve been awake for three days on an alphabet of substances, but judging by the positive reviews on websites like TorontoJungle, Purerave and TorontoRaves, Toronto’s restless dance music community is already starting to think about WEMF 2008.
Panoramas by PhatRaver.