July 15, 2016
Wrapping up after this past Canada Day long weekend, was a humble, feisty festival in the northern reaches of Alberta, called Astral Harvest.
As the ninth installation of the Harvest’s gathering of music, art, and energetic spirits came to a close near Driftpile, AB, the atmosphere throughout the grounds was one of contentment and a glowing satisfaction. Inspiration takes many forms at this festival, and of the various styles of electronic music—from funk, to psytrance, to drum and bass—there’s an eclectic mix of musical talent to be explored in the Astral Harvest lineup.
Some festival goers may find it difficult to imagine a weekend where a playground and family camp can be incorporated. At a place like Astral Harvest, however, there is a level of respect for the land and each other that can be hard to find at comparable outdoor music parties—electronic or not.
Don’t assume this festival’s mature demeanour is synonymous with it being tame, however. The sun doesn’t even need to set for PK Sound to be heard thumping across the soggy fields. Rain boots are a must for this fest with its temperamental weather, but the friends you’ll make in these mud pits will fill your struggles with laughter and optimism for a brightening day.
As another year passes us by, everyone touched by this fest is reminded of the reasons that keep us returning year-after-year to fight fiercer mosquitoes and stomp the earth with an ever-growing legion of Harvesters. New faces are taught the powerful pull of the Harvest, and oftentimes you will hear seasoned feastival vets attending this festival for the first time refer to Astral Harvest as their new favourite summer experience.
Following are some of my own favourite sets of the weekend:
The Prototypes at the Interstellevator
Packing the main stage Saturday night were the hordes of hungry bassheads looking for their dose of face-melting low notes, and The Prototypes did not disappoint. The star power that these guys brought to the table raised the bar of the festival during one last performance in Canada before they began a tour with stops in Portugal, the UK, Russia, and other parts of Europe.
Fresh off of a new Beatport release and last month’s EP, City of Gold, The Prototypes are taking the masses by storm worldwide. Their utilization of tweaks and uncommonly haunting tones—balanced with just the right amount of vocals in between their heavy breakdowns—creates a great formula to please the various types of partygoers looking for the faster BPMs and harder sounds. Promising to make your neck ache with bassface-stricken headbanging to some drilling DnB, theirs was not a set many Harvesters were willing to miss.
Marten Hørger at Wakah Chan
Blending a variety of pumped up BPMs and inciting energy from behind the decks, Marten Hørger seriously kicked off the party on Saturday night. His unique style and skills to get a crowd in the party mood have always made him a must-see at any stop on his travels outside his motherland of Germany. With his audience worshipping at the speakers, his set lived up to his reputation of providing a wicked good time.
Night Vision Showcase at the Manor
A three-hour showcase late Thursday night gave the last few Harvesters standing something to keep up to. Hefty trap was delivered at Astral Harvests’ newest stage, The Manor, by Edmonton-based promotions company Night Vision. This new stage is one of the best places to come to chill and do a quick festival inventory while listening to some quality tunes. Featuring Adam Johan, DMT, Dailey, and Fathoms (the company’s local talents), night owls were given a haunt to dance and soldier on into the dawn.
SkiiTour at Wakah Chan
Vibes were in high supply over at the Wakah Chan stage when SkiiTour set up their signature snow machines. Following the trail of festival attendees outfitted in off-season ski gear is always guaranteed to bring you into a good time at a Western Canadian electronic music festival. At the end of these particular rainbows is an hour and a half of upbeat, energetic, and funky good times.
Gogo dancers mirrored the smiles spread across the crowd from atop the PK Sound speakers that shook the foundations of the stage. The SkiiTour experience can bring immediate joy to anyone feeling the energy that courses through the venues they play, and should be on the list of priorities to see at many of the primary festivals in BC and Alberta.
Flavours at the Market Stage
Edmonton local Flavours whipped up a party at the Market stage. Passing between two of the best sets of the weekend, it was unavoidable to stop and groove to the delicious beats he was laying down on Saturday night. Currently on tour for his recent EP release Sugar, Flavours captured the attention of many passersby with his popping and crunchy tones, and made for one of the most memorable and fun segments of a packed weekend.
Coyote Kisses at the Interstellevator
One of the best soundtracks of the weekend, Coyote Kisses’ glitchy trap style breaks at all the right corners and swings around with fervor. Their alluring notes pierce the repetition of the beat—soulful strings of sound that can push and pull the audience between a soft sway to melancholy notes—highlighted by passionate dance that accompanied their more turbulent tracks. Melodic trap is the signature sound of this festival, where, the “electric elements” Coyote Kisses describes, sums up the atmosphere of the venue and the electric vibe of the audience.