What Happens When You Travel To An International Festival All By Yourself: An Ilesoniq Narrative
I’ve done a lot of crazy things in my life. I moved out of my parents’ crib for a bit, I jumped off a cliff into a body of water, I’ve told someone I loved them, the list goes on and on. However, this summer I told myself that I was going to do the craziest thing I could ever think of. I decided to fly to a different country, all by myself at the age of nineteen, not knowing anyone, and attend a music festival.
At the time it didn’t sound insane because the destination I chose to go to, I was very familiar with my surroundings because I once visited there earlier this year for my spring break and I remember the moment I stepped off that plane, I instantly knew I loved it here and that one day, I would be back.
Then there I was. Five months later, I stepped back foot into Montreal, Quebec in Canada and I instantly felt like home. I was attending the Ilesoniq Festival at the Parc Jean-Drapeau where this year’s lineup was absolutely incredible and that I was told that I was going to lose my mind and have an unforgettable, life-changing weekend. Both of those statements stood by true and I would do anything to go back to that weekend!
Before I gush about my favorite sets and give a run-down of my weekend, one aspect that lifted me up was the people that I met. When I first flew into Canada that Wednesday afternoon, I didn’t know zilch. I only knew one person that I knew wasn’t going to the festival. But after partying at clubs, parties, the festival itself, etc. I honestly cannot tell you how many new friends and connections I have made not just for the weekend, but for life. I have never felt so welcomed in my life because they all treated me with nothing but kindness and love. That’s one thing you definitely gain when you trek to a festival all by yourself! The night before the Ilesoniq festival even started, there was a pre-party hosted by the promoters of the festival down by the docks of Bassin Peel, and the sets blew me away! Three of the artists that absolutely blew my brain up were Michael Sparks, Botnek, and Herobust. Now, I’ve never heard of this ‘Michael Sparks‘ guy before personally, but all of my new friends from Montreal were gushing about how incredible he was – and they were not wrong about that. Sparks got everyone in the audience headbanging and moshing, and it was a great first time to experience a Sparks set! Botnek also put on an incredible house-vibe set. I found myself closing my eyes and just chillin’ to their beats. I’ve always wanted to hear Botnek live so this was also a great first for me. However, when Herobust came on, I lost my sh*t! I couldn’t even feel my own feet anymore because of how dirty the bass was. Let’s not also forget the five different mosh pits in the crowd during his set. All I can say is what a wonderful way to kick off the Ilesoniq weekend.
Finally. Day one of Ilesoniq. A day and night to definitely remember. I started off at the Oasis main stage for Kungs – where he played his two top hits, “I Feel So Bad”, and “This Girl”. I could feel the beat and emotions through those songs that reminded me of other destinations whenever I listened to them. I hopped over to the end of Rezz‘s set at the Bud Lite stage, and at that point of the set, it was a chill bass tone. It was relaxing to hear because I knew the night was going to take me somewhere heavy. I then stayed for Illenium‘s set shortly after and even though the crowd got a little rowdy and sweaty, the music still set a chill vibe. Shortly after, I switched back and forth from Louis the Child and Big Gigantic and I loved the vibe they both gave out! One of my favorite songs from Louis the Child is “Weekend”, featuring Icona Pop, and it felt so good to hear the tune in his live set! Another banger he played was his song featuring Blaise Railey, “Phone Died”, and I was surprised that I knew all the lyrics by heart. Another amazing performance I saw during Friday was Robin Schulz! When he played “Sugar”, my friend and I wouldn’t stop dancing and feeling the vibes in the air. It was definitely a magical hour in the day! One of my favorites of the night was the incredible Getter! Being a basshead, I was nonstop headbanging and (sometimes) moshing and it felt like I couldn’t stop! I get so crazy during dubstep sets and I love it! Tiesto ended Day 1 perfectly out on the Oasis main stage and he made my night so magical. Tiesto sent all of the positive vibes into the air, and not once did I feel any feelings of depression, anxiety, or anything bad. My friend and I were dancing the night away right by the fountain! He was one of the best sets I’ve ever heard in my life, especially with the nonstop fireworks going off at the end of the night.
Day two gave out a whole lot of different sparks. It was a very stressful day going back and forth from conducting interviews to seeing sets with my friends, but it was still manageable. The first set I caught was Elephante‘s, and let’s just say: for him to be performing an early time, he is way too good to be performing at a 2 PM slot. His beats and enthusiasm were incredible! I then caught the beginning of Cedric Gervais‘s set and I loved the energy he gave out, especially when he laid down his remix of “Summertime Sadness”, by Lana del Ray! After Gervais, I was able to watch R3hab, an artist I’ve always wanted to see for years! He definitely matched my expectations when he dropped his hits, “Revolution” and “Stronger” during his set. My dreams were coming to a reality… until Slushii‘s set got caught because of an uninvited storm hit the park! We were on a rain delay for about twenty minutes and my friends and I were getting soaked! But that didn’t stop us from raging! After the delay, Jauz came on and basically threw down a set that conveyed a message saying, “F**k you, rain!” It definitely worked. Around that time after, Markus Schulz, Malaa, and KSHMR were playing at the same time so I had to bounce back to all their sets so I could hear them all. I loved the different energies of music they sent out; trance, deep house, and progressive! Things were all a perfect blend to end the night with some hardcore bass! Excision blew my head off with his beats and speaker system. There wasn’t a time where I wasn’t headbanging and throwing myself off a barrel into the crowd. That’s how your first Excision show is supposed to go, right?
Besides the Ilesoniq festival in the park, there were also official after parties taking place at New City Gas, a music venue in Montreal well known for its EDM acts. The first night, Friday, Afrojack stole the show with his unbelievable beats and sound. My friends and I were at the front of the railing and I vaguely remember slipping around the floor because it was too slippery. Either way, I had the time of my life there. The next night, Saturday did not lead up to my expectations, unfortunately. KSHMR put on a wonderful set for the afterparty, but the crowd was very unpleasing. People were pushing each other around, spilling drinks on one another, and basically, I left after twenty minutes of showing up.
Ilesoniq, I can easily say was one of the best weekends of my life! I could not thank the universe enough for meeting such radiating people, the opportunities of hearing such amazing music, and just being in a nonstop state of happiness. If you want a festival full of mystery and adventure, go to Montreal and attend this festival! It will change your life and open your eyes to many opportunities. Plus, no one speaks English there so you’ll also have a great challenge.
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