The 2019 Veld Music Festival, possibly the biggest annual EDM event in Canada, made its return to Ontario on Saturday, bringing in a varied crowd of young and old from across the province and the world.
With one of its most stacked lineups yet, Veld 2019 proved to be a weekend for the ages.
While Toronto’s iconic Downsview Park has hosted events as big as 2003’s SARSStock, the former Edgefest festival, the 2011 Canada Day celebration with The Tragically Hip and, of course, two papal visits from Pope John Paul II in 1984 and 2002, respectively, the massive outdoor venue’s claim to fame could be Veld — its longest-running event yet.
Veld first kicked off in 2012, and each year the two-day event reels in tens of thousands of high-energy fans. This year was the biggest yet, wrangling more than 30,000 individuals each day.
The 2019 edition also introduced Veld’s newly instated cashless system — meaning all purchases were to be made with debit or credit cards — eliminating the need for ATMs. It’s a trend dominating festivals these days: no more cash.
An extremely thorough cannabis regulations guide was also sent out to each attendee via email. Given the two-day haze that covered Downsview Park, the emails were ineffective.
Generally, with large music festivals or one-off music events, organizers and fans run into some sort of production issue or two. This year, Veld was prepared for everything and ran into no major issues, aside from a few fan visits to the hospital and Cardi B’s pared-down performance — which was her own decision.
From the moment the doors opened early Saturday afternoon to dusk on the closing Sunday night, the vibe of endless excitement, anticipation and all-around positive energy never left the air. It was quite contagious, actually.
A clear sky on both days of the festival called for a bright and sweaty experience already, but once the endless sea of EDM lovers was mixed in, the intensity was amplified. Neon colours filled the nearly 600-acre space, along with flashy fannypacks, garlands and a lot of fishnets. Shirtless men and bikini-clad women were a constant.
The greatest thing about it? Everybody was friendly. Whether you were waiting for the next set to begin at one of the three stages, waiting in line for a hot dog, or taking a break in one of the few patches of shade, people were willing to strike up a conversation and become acquainted with each other.
Whether they were sober, blind drunk, had smoked too much marijuana, or were inebriated by other unknown substances, it seemed everybody was there to not only enjoy the music and talent, but to ultimately make the most of their August long weekend and enjoy the remainder of the summer.
Day 1 — Saturday, Aug. 3
By 1 p.m., the gates had opened, marking the beginning of Veld 2019. A few hundred people had already lined up to enter.
The perimeter of the venue was lined with food trucks, water stations, bathrooms, beer tents and an impressive number of EMS stops. There was even a set of bouncy castles, along with a giant ferris wheel towards the back of the venue for more added fun.
In a matter of hours, as the place started to really fill up, there were crushed beer cans littered across the grounds — with no lack of spilled beer. Fortunately, there was an abundance of garbage and recycling cans, along with cleaners making sure the place didn’t become hazardous.
From 3Lau and Alesso to Dzeko, there were dozens of artists spread between the Cirkus, Hennessy and Main stages throughout the day.
Jaden Smith even made an appearance, and to the surprise of many, shaved his head onstage towards the end of his gripping and energetic performance. Fans went nuts. He later shared the video to his Instagram page.
Many other festivalgoers were left disappointed when American rapper Polo G simply didn’t show up to the festival. He didn’t give his fans a word of warning, and some of them took to Twitter in anger.
Polo G wasn’t the only one who disappointed — Cardi B showed up 45 minutes late to her one-hour set, meaning she couldn’t even get 20 minutes through her performance before the mics were cut off and she was left rapping in silence.
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It’s unclear why the Please Me rapper was late, but she mentioned that her husband, Offset, was supposed to make an appearance but couldn’t get into Canada.
“We’re gonna do Clout,” she said to the crowd. “But the thing is, I was gonna have my husband perform with me, but he couldn’t make it into the country.
“It’s OK, though,” she continued. “I got somebody.”
To the surprise of many, the 26-year-old brought her daughter, Kulture, onstage during Clout — which is filled with cursing.
The crowd roared with excitement. There was a hood covering Kulture’s face, making it unclear whether she was wearing earplugs or proper ear protection. There was also a seemingly endless amount of pyrotechnics, which seemed like a hazard for the young child.
Cardi B’s set was cut just seconds into Bodak Yellow, and fans were not happy. It was 11:03 p.m., to be exact. Following the set, she too received a large amount of criticism over social media for letting down many of her followers.
Skrillex, on the other hand — who warmed up the stage for Cardi B — seemingly stole the show, along with Kayzo, who headlined the Hennessy stage.
Both stages was equipped with all sorts of lighting rigs and LED panels, making for two extremely visual sets.
Skrillex even performed a cover of the hit viral sensation, Baby Shark — which completely won over the crowd.
Bass drops were aplenty and bodies popped non-stop until the end of the fiery set. The result? A lot of happy faces, and some wishing Skrillex had closed Day 1 rather than a tardy Cardi B.
Though Day 1 proved to be a massive success overall, with little to no setbacks, Day 2 brought in an even bigger crowd and some of the best highlights of the weekend.
Day 2 — Sunday, Aug. 4
The atmosphere was the same as it was the previous day, as were the outfits and general party vibe.
The gates opened at 2 p.m. this time, and already, the festival had many more occupants. While the heat was nice and the humidity was low, it was hours until there was a cloud in sight.
Finding shade was a struggle for a majority of the crowd — especially those unequipped with sunscreen — and other than the Cirkus stage, there were only two small teepee-like tents at the back of the venue that actually provided sufficient shade.
There was a lot more water purchased than there was alcohol on Sunday; that was clear. Some people even passed out. By 6 p.m., at least seven people had been taken to emergency services on stretchers.
London, Ont.-based DJ duo Loud Luxury took the main stage at 6:50 p.m. sharp and due to their current popularity, may have stolen the show entirely.
Their stage was equipped with the same LED setup as the night prior, only there was a great deal more pyrotechnics, fireworks and overall energy. The crowd may have been the biggest all year — meaning they surpassed Cardi B and Skrillex in attendance.
Every so often, confetti would fly out of each of the main stages to match the beats of the music. People were running around with streams of the confetti, gathering as much as they could while dancing along to the rapid and upbeat tunes.
Following Loud Luxury’s awe-inspiring performance, one of Veld’s organizers took to the stage to announce the “winner” of a faux contest.
He brought a young couple to the stage, Louie and Amelia, to announce that they had won side-stage tickets to watch Kygo’s performance.
Louie, however, took the opportunity to surprise his significant other and propose to her. The crowd roared with excitement as he got down on one knee, and then again, even louder, when she accepted the engagement ring.
“She said yes!” shouted the organizer. “Make some noise!”
The crowd went absolutely bonkers.
It was revealed that the now-engaged couple had been going to Veld together since the very beginning.
Before Kygo stormed the main stage, he took the time to sit down with Global News and chat about his love for Veld and Canada in general.
It was his second time at the EDM extravaganza since 2016.
“I remember it was a good crowd,” Kygo said of his 2016 performance. “I think The Chainsmokers and Deadmau5 played, too, and they were both unreal. There was just such a good energy to it all.
“Seeing the reactions makes me feel like Canada has really embraced my music and supported me in general since the very beginning,” said Kygo. “I just love coming here.”
Global News also asked the Norwegian DJ if he had had a chance to explore the festival.
“I just arrived, actually, and unfortunately I won’t be here long. I have to leave right after my set at Veld to fly to Vegas… I have another show tonight!” he said with a laugh.
Kygo, Lil Baby, Fisher and Tiesto later finished the night, each with phenomenal performances. There wasn’t a still body in sight. It seemed everybody had a blast. There were even a handful of moshpits, as unlikely as that sounds.
Fortunately, no performers were late and none had to cancel on Sunday. The positive vibes were up and the show ended promptly at 11 p.m., with tens of thousands of music lovers riding that high for the rest of the night.
With any concert or special event, getting out of the venue is always the hardest part. But Veld’s organizers were quick on their feet on Day 2, as they managed to open a second entrance, literally doubling the efficiency of evacuating the festival post-Tiesto. There were no problems whatsoever.
While Veld may seem like a once-in-a-lifetime event, it runs annually, and its lineups only seem to get bigger. Tune in next year for more EDM magic.
An announcement for Veld 2020 won’t happen until spring of next year, but until then, updates and additional information can be found on the official Veld website.