In the muddied fields of Downsview Park, the sights and sounds were not typical of a surburban Toronto park. Instead of an idyllic, calm city space to enjoy a serene afternoon with friends and family, the park grounds were filled to capacity with two stages and 38,000 partygoers.
The VELD Music Festival, which has taken place in Toronto for the last three years, is a two day long EDM festival, featuring big names like Armin van Buuren, Martin Garrix, DVBBS, 3LAU, Iggy Azalea, and more.
The two-day long celebration attracts people not only from the GTA, but from Quebec and the states, brings together people of all ages, physical abilities, and religions.
Although predominantly attended by ostentatious young adults, older folks were not a rare sight at the event, as the credo of rave culture focuses on a concept called PLUR — peace, love, unity, and respect.
The booming bass, the vibrant cheers, and the exuberant energy permeated through the crowd, creating an energizing environment that kept everyone energized for the duration of the rave.
Although fun for the attendees, whom had paid over $200 for the experience to attend VELD, many locals were perturbed by the event.
Citing noise and safety complaints, local residents claimed that the music could be heard from many kilometres away, and that clearly intoxicated young adults could be seen lingering after the event was over, creating waste and discomfort for those those whom lived nearby.
In addition to citizen complaints, news of potentially tainted drugs sending sent nineteen to the hospital and leaving two dead sparked a fierce debate over the legality of drugs.
Many Torontonians voiced their opinions, stating that drugs, notably marijuana and MDMA, should be legalized and regulated such that issues surrounding potential poisonings do not arise again in the future.
Others opined that such drugs should remain illegal and that the solution to preventing future deaths is to ban EDM events from taking place (neglecting to acknowledge the fact that these things can happen anywhere. One mustn’t look further than at a Keith Urban country concert in Boston on July 26 that led to 22 hospitalizations, 50 arrests, and 1 rape) whilst criticizing the city councillors that allowed it to happen.
Despite the horrible news of the deaths and hospitalizations, the majority of concertgoers had a great experience despite the apparently rampant drug abuse and the wafting smell of cannabis in the air. The culture that festival attendees perpetuated led to a great climate, and the food and amenities were excellent. And for those concerned about safety, those looking to simply enjoy an afternoon with friends and good music will not be met with much resistance. Contrary to popular belief, weed and molly aren’t mandated to have a good time and those looking to avoid illicit drugs will not have a difficult time doing so.
As we patiently await the VELD 2015 lineup and ticket sales and let the fact that no more EDM festivals will take place in Toronto until next summer sink in, it’s all too easy to forget what brings people together to events like VELD: a common love for music, compassion for all who attend, and a desire to make the most out of two summer evenings.