Escapade Music Festival Changes Ontario Landscape for EDM

It’s a good week to be a Canadian as Canadian ravers just got blessed with an amazing start to their 2024 summer. Electronic music lovers in Canada have their fair share of festival options from Shambhala in British Columbia, to VELD Music Festival in Toronto and Igloofest in Montreal, but the 2024 Escapade Music Festival lineup that was dropped on Tuesday, January 9th, might’ve just blown the other lineups out of the water. 

Escapade Music Festival is set to take place on June 21st-23rd, at Landsdowne Park in Ottawa, Ontario. The festival announced their first round of headliners earlier in November of 2023, swinging right out the gate with heavy hitters: Slander, The Chainsmokers, Armin Van Buuren, DJ Diesel, and Tchami b2b Malaa. Ontario ravers were blown away by the balance of subgeners amongst the headliners from heavy dubstep to trance to house, EMF would have something for everyone. Following their headliner tease announcement, the full lineup drop revealed that this year’s EMF is going to be unlike any other year. 

Acts from around the globe, some of whom have never played in Canada, are set to take the stage at this year’s festival. Rival festival, Veld Music Festival that takes place in Toronto, has many returning artists that fans have gotten familiar with seeing. But, Escapade just dropped some major names that have yet to ever come to Ontario yet or perform at an Ontario festival. 

The lineup is incredibly diverse and features some similar and up-and-coming artists, ones to watch that are making waves in the EDM community: Knock2 to Mau p, Bunt, Gorilla T, Levity and many more. The festival incorporates so many subgenres and with their selection of three stages, EDM lovers can stick to their favorites or expand and check out different subgenres. 

The bass lineup is stacked this year. Starting with major player Subtronics returning to Ottawa for the second year in a row, and Diesel doing a complete bass stage takeover with Shaq’s Bass All Stars. I’m eager to see which artists are going to be a part of Shaq’s Bass All Stars because I know we are going to be head banging all night long. Ravers are going to have a taste for all the bass from wonky with Ganja White Night to hubby with ALLEYCVT to melodic tears with Seven Lions, Illenium and Slander to bass house with AC Slater and drum and bass with Chase & Status, plus heavy hardstyle and tarot at Kayzo and Hairitage. Some exciting back-to-backs are also on the horizon: Dog Eat Dog (Crankdat x Riot Ten) and Imani b2b Nitepunk. It will be many bass artists’ first time to Ottawa and at Escapade, I cannot wait to be raging on the rail!

The house heads are always taken care of at Escapade. Name a subgenere of house music and you will find it there: Tech house, stutter house, bass house, we could go on. Legends Tchami and Malaa are going back-to-back but that’s not all, we also welcome Fisher, newcomer on the block Bunt, Acraze, James Hype, Noizu, and many others. The house stage is notoriously talked about every year because it is housed indoors at Landsdowne Park offering a unique lighting experience different from Escapade’s other two stages. 

There is a lot more techno this year as Escapade introduces artists like Maddix and Matt Sassari to their lineup. This is definitely a branch out for them and their usual bookings. 

I love to see returning artists because we know it means they love the festival just as much as we do. Zedd is coming back for the second year in a row as well as his infamous speaker blowout last year when he started dropping some heavy bass. Iconic moment of 2023, but the show went on and he hooked the crowd the entire way through!

The Escapade lineup does a really great job of representing the EDM community as a whole. With a taste of every subgenera, and artists both large and new and up-and-coming, it’s going to be hard to decide which sets to see. After this killer lineup drop, I’ll probably be daydreaming about Escapade weekend up until June. I’m excited to see Bunt, ISOXO, Levity, ALLEYCVT, Tape B and Shaq’s Bass All Stars all for the very first time, and of course, I will be making it to the rail for my familiar favorites. The lineup makes the trip out for non-Ottawa residents so worth it because of all the unlikely talent that Canadians wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else. It is a risky lineup, different from their usual bookings, but this risk has the potential to draw in an even bigger international buzz, and captivate more Canadians!

This lineup feels fresh and energizing. Escapade in 2023 had a few technical issues, and weather conditions that almost threaten to end Day 3 early. Its stage flow was a bit hectic last year, but with such a large space, with such different stages: a stadium, an indoor building and a full-blown MainStage, they are able to create the full immersive festival experience. In the heart of downtown Ottawa, there’s also so many accommodations and ways to and from the festival making the experience almost seamless. Here’s looking forward to amazing weather and good vibes at this year’s event. 

For variety in the artist bookings, I give Escapade a 10/10 this year, and am eager to see how this all pans out for them. For the strength of their acts I give them a 9/10. The overall festival is smaller scale than other Canadian festivals like Shambhala or Veld, but the intimacy in this smaller scale event allows fans to feel closer to their favorite artists and foster a greater sense of PLUR and community. With the most diverse lineup we’ve seen at Escapade, this might be the makings of the best year yet. Tickets went on sale Friday January 12th at 12pm EST and I cannot wait to get mine!

– Remy Lethbridge; IG @remy_lethbridge

*All photos courtesy of Escapade Official Photo Gallery 

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