One of the most anticipated events in Toronto Rave Community had finally come to the Direct Energy Centre: Pomo, Claude Von Stroke, and headliner Disclosure gave Toronto one of the best shows I’ve seen to date, but also left us with one of the most chaotic endings.
Doors opened at 7:30pm on Saturday October 17th, so I arrived to the venue at 8p.m. eager to catch Pomo. He wasn’t on just yet when I entered the building, which was fine by me. First time being at Direct Energy Centre, I can easily say the building itself is really beautiful in a sense of how spacious and well lit it is. It has a warehouse feeling to it, but more urban and less industrial. There were bars lined up along almost the entire perimeter. The bathrooms were clean and spacious; it felt like I was in a shopping mall or airport. I made sure to hit up the food trucks, and finally merchandise for the artists.
Pomo began around 8:30pm, and his set was very chill. His style is funk, nu-disco, and house. He embodies the soul in every song he plays by playing live chords on top and adding and extra oomph with a live drum pad too. A lot of shuffle circles began during his set, and he set the tone beautifully for the night. He played his remix of Alina Baraz & Galimatias’s track “Fantasy”, as well as Aluna George’s track “Supernatural”. His set all around was really fresh and funky.
Claude Von Stroke started sometime after 9pm, and opened with his original track “Barrump”. He also dropped “Who’s Afraid of Detroit”, “I Eat Beats (Ardalan Remix)” and Claude’s remix of Rihanna’s track “Bitch Better Have My Money”. At this point the venue was significantly fuller, and the energy from the crowd felt really sincere. The footwork got fancier, the bass was heavier, and Claude’s set felt like a real treat. Anyone who’s a big fan of his record label knows that the Dirty Bird BBQ tour didn’t stop in Toronto this year, so there were a lot of people in attendance to make up for that.
Disclosure began around 10:30pm, and their introduction into “White Noise” was a performance like no other. The lighting and monitors displayed a 3D live pixelated live stream of each half of Disclosure while they sang and played live instruments. We could see their profiles in the form of lasers, pixels, shadows, and other animated images throughout their set list. There was a lot of care behind the visuals, which really added to the experience.
They played “Superego”, “Echoes”, “Nocturnal”, “Willing & Able”, and so much more. I thought it was pretty ballsy to play the two singles “Magnets” and “Omen” back to back, but then I realized even though those tracks are amazingly catchy, they aren’t the best Disclosure has to offer. After all the new favourite tracks were played, Disclosure went into this weird tech vibe, which felt more electronic than the rest of their set. Suddenly the crowd screamed as some individuals recognized the track “Bang That” began to play. In that moment I realized why the openers were so fitting for this show: if Pomo had a musical baby with Claude, there’s no doubt it’s disclosure’s sound. The perfect balance of soul and bass really made the evening something special. After the whole tech segment, more anticipation rose and we were led into “When a Fire Starts to Burn”.
Their setlist was so perfect, and at this point I had heard everything I wanted to hear, so I decided to beat the rush and use the washroom before heading out. I made my way to the back right washroom near the merch booth, only to find a huge line coming out from the girl’s bathroom, reaching halfway across the dance floor… this is where the evening started to go downhill. I walked towards the exit instead, and passed coat check to a bathroom at the very back left of the venue. It was clean and it seemed that nobody really knew it existed.
I then passed coat check and made my way into the cold without a coat. I pre-decided not to pay for coat check knowing my car was safe in the lot across the street. I was so very wrong…
I arrived to my car to find the back windshield completely smashed and surrounded by glass… my drive back to Hamilton was suddenly dreadful. I inspected my vehicle to find the doors were still locked, and everything inside was untouched: nothing was stolen. But the amount of glass in my back seat was upsetting, and it even reached the front seats from the impact. There’s a deep dent on the roof of my car where it met the back windshield. I took a few steps back and noticed the vehicle parked next to mine also had its back windshield shattered with a giant hole. A third vehicle over from me, I could hear a girl sharing the same emotions. I wandered over and found her side-view mirrors dangling from their former positions.
Someone went on a spree while we were inside the venue, and there was no way of knowing if the person(s) were even in attendance at the show or just passing by. I wanted to speak with someone, so I headed back to the venue to talk to a police officer, but by this time the show let out, and coat check was a huge mess. Security stepped back as people stomped over the barricades and searched for their own coats: pure chaos and disorder. Officers informed me to expedite my problem on the phone, as they attempted to control any violence as their main priority. Apparently a girl had gone unconscious within the brawl, so I can only imagine how hectic it was getting her out and seeking medical care. Pretty hard for officers to do while some attendees faked panic attacks and claustrophobia just so they could get a quick escape after finding their coats.
I went back into the cold and called the non-emergency line to file a police report. Officers arrived at my car within a half hour, took my information, and were pretty honest about the situation. They told me it’s very unlikely they’ll find the culprit, especially with no surveillance on the Energy Centre’s parking lot outside… I suddenly was wondering what paying the $20 was for. My night ended bitter and shattered. This is not the first time I’ve attended a huge event with quality artists only to have a certain demographic of attendees dictate a rough ride home. At least my phone wasn’t stolen this time?
Embrace is hearing a lot of complaints of stolen jackets, and one attendee recorded a video of the brawl, and managed to find the manager of security and ask him how could he let this happen? He wouldn’t answer her, attempted to leave, but he couldn’t take the heat from her questions, and tried to push the camera-phone away by hitting the woman. His aggression and impatience was the epitome of the crowd at the end of the evening. CityTV News even reported on the incident, reaching out to Embrace Presents for comments but receiving none.
“There were girls lining up to pee in a corner on the floor because they were told one single stall bathroom was available to them,” – Kaveh Baradaran told CityNews.
As soon as I heard that via TRC it was clear what kind of demographic Disclosure catered to.
Is Embrace responsible for this catastrophe? Or are the people who stole jackets, pissed on floors, and smashed people’s cars? Or what about the lack of security and police assistance?
Keep in mind, this past June at Bestival, Embrace also put on an amazing weekend of quality artists on Centre Island, but it was disastrous waiting for ferries to get off the island. I myself was almost pushed into the water waiting for a water taxi, and I left for the VIP/Media ferry, only to hear security telling anyone and everyone to get in that line. It took me 5 hours to get home the first night, and 4 hours the second evening.
There’s no real way of knowing when this chaos is going to happen. As a raver and music lover, you have to be prepared for anything. There are times when leaving a show can feel like an episode of The Walking Dead and you have to ask yourself how can you handle the situation in the best way possible. I’m sure there are a lot of people boasting on social media as to why they made the right choice in not attending Disclosure at the Direct Energy Centre, blaming a 16+ crowd for everything, or the lineup, or even the venue. But it truly is a combination of things that added up to this bitter ending of a great show.
I know I will be a bit pickier as to what shows I’m attending in the future, but I’m very happy to have finally experienced Disclosure live, regardless of the hundreds of dollars it cost me. I’m sure you feel a bit better about your lost jacket now.
Serafina Thoma – Euphoradio