Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bal en Blanc 15 @ Palais de Congres - April 13, 2009

Review originally posted at MTLNIGHTS.COM

Do you remember the first time you went to a Bal en Blanc? It was 2005 for me, and I can tell you many things have changed since then, and I’m sure many of you are already rolling your eyes saying “if he knew how used to be in bla bla bla”. Music has changed, the crowd has changed, I have changed, but a constant, year after year, is how we agree to disagree in what we believe was good and bad.

Let me start saying that because of Montreal, I have learned a lot about music, and I find that Montrealers are very educated in what music is all about - I think I just felt more rolling eyes right there - and this level of understanding makes this city an attractive place for music and party lovers. Although we are spoiled with the musical talent that visit, and that we have in our city, it doesn’t mean just because someone is famous we will accept anything that is through at the crowd, deejays must work to gain our respect.

Due to problems that occurred in the past, it was a given people would arrive early, and by the time I made it to the convention center (11:00pm), there was already a huge line outside. I had no issues in getting in (media), everything went smoothly, and probably only took me 7 minutes to arrive to the house room. Most of my friends had bought the regular ticket, and I did not hear the same complains as in the past, yes they did have to wait, but nothing compared to Bal en Blanc 14.

House Room to the left, and the Trance room to the right, having mini-shops located in the middle of both rooms, and as a suggestion to the Bal en Blanc people, it would be nice to have something where you could read the schedule for the night. This way by the time you get into either room, you know who is spinning. Another thing you could do is to rip a page from the program containing the timetable for the night, as a friend of mine did.

Checked first the House Room, where King Louis was doing a great job energizing the crowd for what was to come. Unfortunately due to the fact I like to check my environment at the beginning, I did not pay special attention to what King Louis was doing.

Did not notice anything special about the décor in the house room, actually beside the giant screen located behind the decks, there was really nothing else, unless those Japanese style lamps can be considered as the decoration of the place. Recycling was the theme of the night, nothing controversial compared to the religious tone of 2008, and it got me thinking that maybe that giant led screen was the answer to fully use clean energy to decorate the place, instead of something that was going to end up in the garbage. The House room VIP entrance area was located to the left hand side of the deck, and there were around 5 different stages for the VIP people located in both sides of the room.

Had to check the Trance room, and by then Markus Schulz was already moving the crowd, and let me tell you he got me moving as well. Bal en Blanc definitely put more emphasis in this room, several old style chandeliers decorated the ceiling, and when lights were focus on them, it really looked magic. Not counting the fantastic lasers that were brought up to delight the trance crowd. No one can now claim Bal en Blanc does not listen to the people, because for the longest time I’ve been hearing complains about not having lasers in that room, which wouldn’t work in the House room by the way. Spectacular laser show completed the trance music, mixed with the mysterious mist that always appears in this room. There was also a giant screen located right behind the decks.

This was Markus Schulz’s first Bal en Blanc, and after his performance, I’m pretty sure we will be seeing him again in the near future. I’m also sure he was very happy, not only because he got the remix the theme song, but also that he got to performe it live. Before I get blasted by Trance lovers, I must informed you I’m house lover more than anything else, and there is no way I can be considered an expert in trance music, but what I saw and felt at the trance room, might actually make me a bi-lover of house and trance music.

Jumped back to the House area were Upper Cut had just began his set, and by then you could start seeing the difference in the energy of both rooms. Many of my friends rave about Upper Cut performances in Montreal, unfortunately I didn’t feel his music was enough to keep me there, and went back to see Markus Schultz. Trance music I found to be very epic, with nice vocals, and having an estrange euphoria - dancing trance for me was like a short movie with a defined beginning and end. Do I make sense?

Offer Nissim was schedule to begin at 1:00am and because I know lots of boys were waiting for him, I also rushed back to see what he was going to do this time. Personally I think we could have distributed his 2 hours set to other deejays, like given more time to Ana Paula and Victor Calderone. Nissim is loved by many people, and I do like some of his music and have experienced some good sets at Parking, but his performance at the Bal en Blanc was less than original, and might add perhaps a bit boring. I did stay for an hour or so, but after waiting and waiting for the music to improve, I decided to check out what Markus Schultz was still doing in the Trance room, trance music with a techier touch.

Missed the theme song but got to see the beginning of Above & Beyond, which also came strong with their trance music, but perhaps not as strong as what I remember from their previous appearance at the Bal en Blanc. Somehow I felt as if the music was a little bit linear

Rushed back to the House Room where “Dressed in White” was going to get performed by Yan Lavoie. Cool song, but at times I thought Yan was just screaming, and where was Amannda?

Anyway, had to chance to ask Ana Paula how did her performance at the Palm Spring White Party went the day before, and she said it was all good. Music started to play and next thing I see is Ana Paula walking in front of the stage greeting the public. Nice welcome back by the crowd, but I kept telling myself “girl I think is better you get yourself back on the decks and start working”. Fine, a pre-remixed song to start, and I can understand her, especially since she feels Montreal is her second home, and she wanted to make people feel close to her.

Thanks to Montreal, Ana Paula has already created a good name in the circuit party in North America, and there is no way back for her. Delicious mix of tribal tech music was what Ana Paula brought to the people, and this is not the tribal we saw first from her in 2007, this is a more mature sound, more international but always with her vibrant energy. The vibe in the house room went off the charts while she was in control of the decks, but be careful Ana Paula, don’t spend too much time away from the decks, otherwise you are going to get crucified and you are not even Jesus. While she was spinning I wished this party would never end, the light show was perfect, the people happy, the dance hot, loved it and from there on I was ready for more house music.

Not sure if it was my impression, but her last song was long, either Axwell wasn’t ready to take over, or she didn’t want to leave the decks. Madonna was playing when finally Axwell took control of the place, and he started by ripping Madonna’s song in peaces. Then a progressive type of sound blasted from the speakers, interesting at the beginning, but really not sure afterwards, with time it became harder and techier, with not much vocals, at least while I was there.

Migrated once again to the Trance room, where people were going nuts with Armin Van Buuren, and when I say nuts, it was really nuts crazy - but I have to give it to the guy, he is really good.

What about the people? Awesome peaceful crowd, come on there were around fifteen thousand people and did you see one fight? Amazing number of good looking people, both men and women, and most of them kept with the white outfits, but perhaps I noticed more people not wearing white this year. If I were a tourist in Montreal, and went to this party, I would come out of there with a big nice impression of the physical appearance of the people in this city. If the straight boys couldn’t stop looking at the girls, let me tell you the gay boys and straight girls were doing the same to the men.

Armin did a fantastic job entertaining the masses in the evil side of the party, and it was funny that at one point at went back to check out Axwell and not sure if it was my impression but both were spinning almost the same song but in different styles, both felt very epic in an estrange different way.

It was almost 8:00am and I did not want to miss the mouse entrance - was he going to wear red or black? Black ears is what he decided to come out with, and I have never seen such a transformation of the crowd, in the front of the stage, as when Deadmau5 took over the decks. The music changed, the people changed, the vibe changed. Deadmau5 music was kind of a mix of minimal with soft techno, slammed between some trance and house, and maybe some electro? I believe the first music played was “Ghosts n Stuff”, which I actually like. Definitely there were some interesting tracks played, but not enough to keep me there.

My own opinion is that maybe the 8:00am slot should had be given to Victor Calderone instead, this is the time when Montrealers are used to start bouncing with great music, this is when the party gets going, and I did not feel Deadmau5 was able to do that, obviously the hardcore fans will disagree with me right here, but I’m sorry I felt bored and went back to the arms of Armin.

Two very well defined vibes had been created in both rooms, a vibrant and contagious Trance, and a less happening almost sleepy House one. Usually I’m the first to claim the House room is usually better than the evil one, but at the Bal en Blanc 15, the trance deejays showed more consistence in the music compared to the flow that occurred with the house deejays. If I’m not mistaken the house room, which had been full until now, lost some of their people at this time.

Decided to explore the bathroom situation upstairs, and even thought I had access to the VIP area, I followed the journey of the people. The waiting time was actually not bad, if you can forget the long walk and the bright sun light. Then I moved to the back of the House room stage, where I got to see Victor Calderone getting ready, half an hour before his start time, in the deck located right beside the main one.

After seeing Victor, I decided I was going to wait for him, and I was just hoping he was going to be able to lift my energy once again. By then many of my friends had already left the premises of the building, the house room was straighter, and the trance room was still bouncing with full energy.

10:00am and Victor takes his place, and no longer after he talks to one of the technicians indicating something is wrong and the music stops. We could hear van Buuren at the other end, but quickly the situation got resolved and Victor started his warm-up set? I love Victor Calderone, but it is already 10:00am and I’m tired and sleepy because of the previous music I was hearing. “The set is only 2 hours long and I don’t think I have the strength to wait for a music to pick up“, this is what I told myself. I know it is not Victor’s fault he was in charge of closing the party, but I wanted to hear more energy right at the beginning. Only stayed for 40 minutes of his set and decided to leave. Some friends told me he picked up hard after that, unfortunately it was too late for me.

Bal en Blanc did a great job organizing such a big event, and trying to resolve some of the issues that have cause many problems in the past. Great line up and performance in the trance room, but not too happy with what I heard in the house one. If you are calling Victor again next year, please make sure he plays at peak time not closing, and not really sure if Deadmau5 belongs there, and please let Offer rest a bit before calling him back. Loved Markus, Ana and Armin, and enjoyed Axwell. The images displayed in the giant screen were also a nice touch, images in which I got lost more than once.

Finally, in previous events I spent most of the time in the House room, this year was different, either because I’m enjoying more trance, or because the house deejays were unable to keep me going. The review is my personal opinion of the night, and I expect you to disagree with my taste, specially the hardcore fans of some of the invited deejays. Great party, and if you have never gone to this party, think about next year.

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