Off Piknic @ Parc Jean Drapeau – June 3, 2022

The COVID-19 virus and the resulting pandemic took a lot away from us. Without the ability to gather in large groups live music and festivals were a no go. Over two years in and finally life is getting back to some semblance of normal. In Montreal, summertime equals festival time. We have film, comedy and music festivals aplenty. Jazz Festival, Juste pour Rire, Fantasia, and Osheaga. The first up and one that runs all summer is Picnik Electronik. An outdoor festival that brings acts from all over the world and plenty of music to dance to.

Piknic Electronik is a global festival that takes place in different cities around the globe. Melbourne, Miami, Santiago, and Montreal are the lucky ones. Montreal’s, which takes place in the beautiful outdoor environment of Parc Jean Drapeau, began on May 22 and will go on until October 2, 2022. Because of the cancellation of other music festivals this year there is a new wrinkle in that there is Off Picnik, an offshoot festival taking place at the same time with some of the acts that could not come to Igloo Fest due to the pandemic. Two festivals for the price of one! Music fans have some catching up to do and Piknic Electronik provides plenty of opportunities to do just that.

A variety of well-known DJs and up and comers from around the world are scheduled to do sets. Over the course of the summer and into early fall, veteran DJs like Mistress Barbara, Kaytranada, Diplo, Armand Van Helden, Zeds Dead, Shadykiss, Fatboy Slim, and Dillon Francis will do sets while other DJs such as DJ Poptrt, Laced, Honeydrip, Voyage Funktastique, Clickbait, and Mitch Oliver will introduce themselves to electronic music fans.

Yesterday was the fourth Off Piknic date and Diplo was the headliner. A big name like that combined with the nice weather yesterday meant a lot of people heading out to Parc Jean Drapeau. Felt like the real beginning of the summer. Sunshine and plenty of music to dance to. This evening was not all about the headliner, though, as there was plenty of talent to go around.

Unfortunately, I got there too late to catch local DJ Sisi Superstar’s at the more intimate SCÈNE DU BOISÉ I did get there for most of the fantastic turntable duo of Victor Bongiovanni B2B Odile Myrtil’s hour and a half set. It was filled with music guaranteed to make you dance.

Each would play about 15 minutes of music and then seamlessly hand over the turntable to the other. Their styles and sound meshed perfectly. Funky, occasionally very recognizable and really danceable. They really showed off their abilities to read the crowd and how to keep the vibe up. Using tracks like Cher’s “Believe” along with “Where You Are” by PinkPantheress featuring Willow and Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) by Spiller had plenty of folks rushing to the front of the stage to dance.

At the same time as their set on the larger Videotron Stage was X-Coast. Born in Serbia and based in the United States, X-Coast (real name is Bojan Cizmic) is known for his ability to mix genres of music into a cohesive sound. Definitely a DJ who plays off the vibe of the crowd. Techno, trance and bass all kept the crowd on a high.

Scooting back over to the smaller stage I was able to catch the beginning of Canadian Casey MQ’s sixty minutes. Funky to the max is the best way to describe what I heard. Very minimalist in his movements but elaborate in his sound. Casey is a guy who works to build things up as well as layer – sound and atmosphere. Unfortunately, I was not able to stay for very long as I had to head over to the bigger stage to catch Major League DJZ and Diplo.

American duo Major League DJz began at 7 pm and over the course of their 90 minutes, the crowd in front of them grew to fill the entire dance area as well as the small hill behind that. People were shoulder to shoulder and enjoying themselves.

Not surprisingly as they are twin brothers, Bandile and Banele Mbere, born in Boston but raised in South Africa, the two work well together. Both, clad in head-to-toe black, bring plenty of energy to their sets. Influenced by hip hop and jazz, the brothers have been DJing professionally since 2006. Spinning tracks like “Sing It Back” by Sha Sha featuring DJ Maphorisa and Kabza De Small and a remix of “Bella Ciao” by Deejay Star Kay, the large crowd was sufficiently warmed up for the headliner.

Arriving on stage precisely at 8:30, Diplo (who now has short ultra blonde hair) had the crowd taking up their dancing another notch. And that did not let up for the entirety of his set. A true entertainer, Diplo is a DJ in constant motion. Always dancing or tweaking knobs or buttons, he played a variety of accessible and high-energy tracks before disappearing into the night to head over to SAT to play his second set of the evening.

A great night filled with dance-oriented music, plenty of bars scattered throughout the grounds, a variety of food trucks to keep you fueled, and a pretty flawless/quick entry to the site made me know this will not be my last visit to Piknic Elektronic/Off Piknic this year.

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