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Toronto Freaks Out for the 10th time

Halloween in itself is a tradition, the treats, the tricks and the eventual party. Freakout!, Embrace and Destiny productions yearly bass-focused Halloween party, is just another piece of  Toronto’s Halloween tradition. Targeted towards drum and bass along with dubstep fans in the most recent years, Freakout! has set a standard for gritty costumed ravers over the past several years. Now in 2013 the event was headlined by none other than dubstep mainstay Rusko and drum and bass faithfuls Roni Size. Friction, 12th Planet, Bad Company, Lush, NC-17, Hydee, Mr. Brown, Rick Toxic, Crash, and Polaris filled out the massive lineup along with MC’s.

The Halloween vibe of the space was clear the second you walked into the room. The Sound Academy’s long causeway floor was dotted with skeletons and other Halloween-themed decorations. Along with the venue, the crowd looked slightly different than your usual party group. Perhaps it was because these music fans are of a very specific niched genre or perhaps it was because the the stage opened in the back into a VIP bar, letting fans get up close and personal with the performers. Whatever it was, something felt heartwarming about the crowd at the 10th Anniversary of an event advertised as a ‘rave’ rather than a concert or DJ set.

Rusko and Roni Size are currently nearing the mid-way point of their Lift Me Up tour. Toronto being one of the last stops on the eastern side of North America before the production is taken to Winnipeg, Vancouver and finishes in Denver Colorado on the November 27.

Friction fell on the card earlier in the night, playing a diverse set from hardstyle to electro-house. Not a moment was lost in the excitement between Friction’s performance and Roni Size stepping on stage. During the changeover, Friction took cell photos of the costume-clad concert goers from on stage. Roni Size incorporated an immense catalogue of samples into his set, intertwining Nirvana’s classic ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ with reggae vibes. The crowd echoed “Roni Size army” as the Bristol native played The White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army’

Near Rusko’s entrance to the DJ booth, the venue was packed with costume-clad ravers. So full in fact, that the humidity jump was made the place feel downright tropical. Bass fans are like none other, bringing loyal fans and party goers who dance all night without taking the usual breaks. The footprint-covered couches filling up the stage were being used as pedestals to dance on or to get a birds eye view of the DJ rather then sat on.

Rusko, nearly reaching the end of his set dropped ‘Woo Boost’ along with many other personal productions that his fans know so truly. Even to this day, the UK born artist’s productions stand out amongst the plethora of of other music played being accented by his signature sound.

One facet to Freakout! is the focus on drum and bass over the years. Only recently have artists from outside the world of breakbeat-laden tracks been a welcomed addition to the Halloween event. Rusko’s recent sound fantastically fit right into this traditional mold with the release of his Lift Me Up EP. Under the releasing capabilities of Skrillex’s OWSLA label, the sound of the 3 tracks specifically immortalized the vibe of the overall event.

Rusko embraced the venue and the crowd by donning a Canadian flag. Freakout! being a uniquely Canadian event clearly had established itself as just that and not just a regular stop on any of the artists tours. Even as 12th Planet started to close out the night, Rusko referred to the city as “T-Dot”, a term known only to the dwellers of the city itself. This wasn’t just a halloween party, its was a Canadian Halloween party.
Kudos to Electronic Nation for another fantastic Halloween party. Although the summer months may be over, the event falling in the final weeks of October shows that festival season isn’t the only time to catch large lineups with massive international bookings. The bass culture of Toronto is alive and strong, especially whilst donning face paint and costumes.

Photos and Words: Kurtis Hooper/kurthoop

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