Three Rainbows for Thee Days of Beats

WEMF Festival
Orangeville Fairgrounds
July 8-10, 2005
The first World Electronic Music Festival (a.k.a. WEMF), 11 years ago, was rudely interrupted by an actual tornado. It wrecked three of the tents and damaged a substantial amount of equipment. This year was no different, although the festival managed to weather the storm.

The drive up to Orangeville included a torrential downpour but incorporated a dark gray sky and double rainbows in the backdrop. When we arrived at the fairgrounds we thought our luck was great in avoiding the disaster of being caught in the storm while unloading. At the gate we were politely informed that our 24 of bottled beers had to stay with the driver due to safety reasons and festival rules. Ooops - forgot! It was no big deal so I left it in my friend's car (who was not staying for the festival) and made our way to media check-in. The media/VIP check-in area was to the left of the car check in. We walked over to the little booth and the sky began to fall - literally. We grabbed our wristbands and headed under the shelter at the front of the arena. This meant: we were waiting under this makeshift shelter until the rain stopped. Keep in mind we still have not yet entered the fairground. Unfortunately, the weather was not letting up. We could hear the beats behind us inside the arena and we were not going to wait outside the venue. The cars were lined up and we had to go through a body/bag search before entering the actual fairground. The entire area was surrounded by a fence. Security at the gate checked our bags and let us ahead of the cars since they had shelter.

Once handing our pink slip to the gatekeeper we pass through the main gate and into the fairground. The grounds were covered in tents, campers, u-haul trucks and vehicles. Down the sides of the roads in and around the tents were booths for food, clothing and other basic needs for the weekend (and I do mean the very basic). Big Bills food was about as good as it gets and I can tell you that it was not good. As for drinks "The Freshly Squeezed Old Fashioned Lemonade Stand" (in the shape of a lemon) was by far the sweetest purchase there. The crew from Trance Addict (www.tranceaddict.com) already had their tents set-up extremely close to the gate which made it easy for us to locate. This would be our home for the weekend. Thankfully a very good friend had already completed the set-up of our tent before the rain had started. By this point the rain had subsided but we were soaked. We quickly made a change into somewhat dryer clothes and took a moment to enjoy the Paradigm (www.paradigmunited.com) tent, which was the closest music to us. They pumped out some great electronica and hosted some wicked local Toronto DJ's.

Much of Friday night was spent making our way around the man-made campground to view the world around us. The vibe seemed pretty chill to me. On the tour we noted several people in candy kid gear and costumes. We eventually made our way to the arena and on route were appalled with the picnic tables overflowing with beer cans and garbage. My only complaint with regards to the people attending is that they didn't try to at least clean up after themselves.

Inside the main auditorium of the arena Dekoze, a local (Toronto) heavy hitter, threw down some dark and dirty beats. I was completely impressed with the way he maintained control of the crowd. Total killer tracks combined with his rippled body and non-stop movement to the beats kept the crowd pleading for more of the same. The rest of the night included Chris Liberator and a few unknowns (for me) in the Drum and Bass room. Although the crowd was huge I was expecting a larger turn out.

Friday night rolled into Saturday morning with no sleep for me. The morning was extremely cold until the sun came out. Once the sun revealed itself so came the full on WEMF vibe. Several vehicles were consistently rolling in through the main gate and people were setting up through out the duration of the day. The arena auditoriums were shut down during the day and the focus was on the outside DJ booths. The new talent tent seemed to be the way to go. There was no lack of genius, especially Ortemy & NuEra. Every person captured a different taste of everything good in electronica.

Since there were no showers on site a group of us thought to make our way to the lake. We were immediately cut off by security - an unpleasant feeling. If you are looking for showers - WEMF does not offer them. The saving grace for me was finding out media had secret showers.

By Saturday evening the crowd had almost doubled in size. Pretty much every area you went too was filled with people. The intoxication level was also heightened. I was personally anticipating a few of the events: Rabbit in the Moon, Mixmaster Mike and Matt Hardwick.

To my dismay I was completely taken back by Rabbit in the Moon and actually a little stunned. They were not what I expected because honestly I was expecting a couple DJ's performing some live music. Their beats seemed inconsistent and were more for show then music to dance to. Just when one was feeling the beats they would stop and start all over again. The visuals and costumes were a little creepy and the music extremely experimental. Unfortunately, I did not realize this group was a show and it tripped me out. If I had known what we were in for - preparation would have been necessary.

Over in the DnB auditorium I caught the tail end of Reid Speed in time to see the set-up begin for Mixmaster Mike. This would be my first experience catching the turntablism master. There was only one minor interruption due to sound issues during his set. However, the experience of seeing him live for the first time was well worth it. In fact if I had not seen anything else all weekend his skills would have made it all worth it for me.

Matt Hardwick offered a heavy hitter set of hard trance. I was enjoying him so much but due to the lack of sleep could no longer dance - the sandman was calling my name.

Honorable mentions of Saturday night go to Jelo and Donald Glaude. Especially liked what Donald was doing with his mouth on the mixer. I was kind of curious as to exactly what he was doing but it sounded and looked pretty cool!

Sunday morning awoke to the likes of RJ and DJ Gamma (both Toronto resident DJ's) at the Paradigm tent with a duly needed house set. This meant the closing of the weekend. We took down our tents and took one last look over the fairgrounds before leaving. What a mess but what a pure bootie-shaking event!

In conclusion, out of a reported crowd of 5,000 only 5 arrests were made: two for public intoxication, two for driving under the influence of alcohol (not drugs) and one for car theft. In addition to those flubs some local area residents had complained. Certain kudos (I mean this sarcastically) to the local Orangeville resident who left her car keys inside the parked vehicle (in her garage) that was stolen. I would like to add that the Destiny promoters had literally gone out of their way to ensure the owner of the stolen vehicle was "looked after". They not only offered a hotel room for a couple of nights (during the festival), a rental car (until her insurance kicked in), and possibly a brand new car (still unconfirmed). All in all - I would say an incredibly successful jam thanks to the organizers and all the people who attended. I think this festival definitely deserves a home and I truly hope Orangeville is it.

Writer: Penny Hayward

Photo:Tistan McKerracher

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