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Festival Season!

Things We Saw and Heard Backstage at Bud Light Digital Dreams

Because sometimes the music being blasted at a festival is only half the story…

by Christopher Metler
Jul 7 2014, 9:50pm

Photograph by Visualbass

With four stages and 65+ artists, this year's Bud Light Digital Dreams was certainly not hurting for talent. Over on Echo Beach for example, some of the biggest names in the underground dance music scene could be found not only playing monster sets, but mingling amongst each other like old friends at a class reunion. And as with any big event, what it really all came down to was the little moments.

Here are a few of the things THUMP saw and heard backstage.

Nathan Barato was sick. Very sick. Not in the "cool" use of the term (although he did kill it), but genuinely ill. He had to cancel his StereoBar booking in Montreal the night before and was in no mood for conversation. "Hey Nathan, it's Chris from THUMP, who wrote the article!" A story he was very enthusiastic about, mind you. His response: "Okay." It was all the poor guy could muster. He was gone within minutes, presumably home to sleep it off.

The same couldn't be said for his Roaches partner-in-crime Carlo Lio. Carlo was chatting up a storm, one fresh drink in his hand after the next. Man of the people. He was booked to warm up Sky Bar later that evening before Dubfire, but the gig never went down. Coincidence?


Photograph by Connie Chan

There is always one smoker at the party who gets targeted for their lighter. We've all been there. That man, unfortunately for his sake, was Sébastien Léger. Talk about how to make a Frenchman even grumpier, right? Very flagrant, frequent use of the word "merde" (English translation: shit) was thrown around.

Some fangoer asked Nicole Moudaber (and her trademark hairdo) if she had ever considered using Vidal Sassoon. This was followed up by another unseemly character-who, in neon furry boots-asked the Queen of Techno if she wanted to borrow her hair straightener. Suffice to say, Nicole abandoned this conversation swiftly.

Danny Tenaglia was sauntering around before his set in an orange windbreaker. The guy is used to routinely pumping out 14-hour marathons. When asked how he felt about playing a brief one-and-a-half hour festival, his response was straight up: "What can you do? Not enough time to tell a story." We suggested he consider calling it the SparkNotes version. He chuckled and agreed. (He did wind up playing that 14 hour set later in the long weekend.)

Seconds after arriving with Sharam for the Toronto stop of their Deep Dish reunion, Dubfire was telling absolutely anyone within earshot about his meal at Portland Variety. Clearly the cockles there were "excellent."

Stefano Noferini played on day one and came back the next afternoon for more. He immediately asked what was up with the subdued crowd. We reminded him how "Day two crowds are, by nature, zombies. Everyone leaves what they have on day one." He concurred. We were both grateful that there wasn't a day three.

Sydney Blu hadn't slept in days. Once her afternoon set was done, she was happy to kick it in one of the golf carts out back-a rare spot that offered shade-and to pass her bottle of vodka around.

A heavy rainstorm interrupted Victor Calderone's set. We agreed with him that the showers had "flushed out" a good deal of the sketch at the festival. When we appropriately renamed the festival "Digital Drains," his knees buckled in laughter. "Digital Drains," he snickered in his thick Brooklyn tongue. "It's true."

Luciano, perhaps the biggest chainsmoker in dance music, refused any and all cigarettes passed his way. That isn't to say he wasn't puffing away like a chimney as usual during his set, only they had to be a European brand passed over by his manager. Anything less was unacceptable.

Luciano spotted Sharam behind him early into his set. A minute later he intentionally looped the beat so he could turn around and give his old pal a big hug. Friendship first. We snapped a shot of the rare encounter.

After two cancelled overseas flights to Toronto on top of a hectic touring schedule, Luciano was still up for getting to Coda to see Art Department play. So we called Uber for him, which he also later took to Sky Bar. His overall reaction to Uber-in a Swiss-Chilean accent-was priceless: "Where are all these pre-paid cars coming from!?" I guess they don't use Uber in Ibiza.

You can follow Christopher on Twitter and Instagram at: @theCMprogram