Some 15,000 electronic music lovers and partygoers dressed in white and danced the night (and morning) away this past Sunday, April 8, 2012 at the 18th annual Bal en Blanc white party. The 15 hour DJ event which started at 9pm and ran until noon the following day, cost attendees between $95-$137, plus an extra $42 for those who opted for VIP status which included quicker entry to the event and access to the VIP sections, bars and restrooms. As in recent years, the event was held at Montreal’s Palais des Congres and featured the main room (house room) and the trance room.
Local DJs Kingdom and Paskal & Vesselinov opened up the night in the house room followed by Russia’s Arty, Jacques Lu Cont, Swedish House Mafia’s Steve Angello, and France’s Fedde Le Grand. Closing out the house room was the legend himself Danny Tenaglia with a 4 ½ hour set which included lots of banging house classics and even a few dance breaks where Danny came out from behind the decks to interact with the audience.
Locals DJ Insomnia and Omar El Gamal opened up the night in the trance room followed by Estonia’s Beat Service, and Holland’s Jochen Miller. Next were the three kings of trance: Armin Van Buuren, Markus Schulz, and Ferry Corsten. Armin made his grand return to the Bal en Blanc stage for his fifth time after a year hiatus and did not disappoint with a high energy, big room set. While Markus’ set was superb musically, he deviated from years past with a darker and slower bmp set which seemed to alienate some in the crowd and brought the overall vibe down for a bit. Ferry brought the crowd back to life with an upbeat set, and lastly the fans’ favourite from last year, the UK’s very own Ben Gold absolutely destroyed the dance floor with a high energy, banging set which had everyone in the crowd jumping.
While the décor at Bal en Blanc is typically almost absent, this year’s edition featured Godskitchen’s latest visual phenomenon the Fusion Cube in the trance room which added some nice ambience. However, it fell somewhat short of the hype it had created through its promotional video. In addition, it wasn’t as impressive as Godskitchen’s previous travelling visual show, the Boombox which made its North American debut at the 16th edition of Bal en Blanc in 2010. Several nice additions to the visual show were the presence of several lasers in the trance room, two large screens on either side of the trance stage which provided a good view of the DJs for those standing in the back, and a cubic LED display suspended from the ceiling in the house room which travelled on a track from the front to the back on the room throughout the event.
In a big venue such as Palais des Congres, sound is always a concern. However, for the most part the sound quality was quite good and consistent with the exception of local vocalist Nadia Ali’s live performances on both the trance and house stages. Ever since Bal en Blanc introduced live vocal performances to its events, it has struggled with this issue.
Those who have been attending Bal en Blanc for years are all too aware of the nightmare of the lineup for those holding general admission tickets. In the past, it was not abnormal to wait up to 2 hours before clearing security. However, this didn’t seem to be the case this year. For whatever reason, there didn’t appear to be much of a line-up to get in, and relatively little congestion at security which was much appreciated by all.
As in years past, those who could not make it were able to listen live to most of the trance DJs on afterhours.fm. Only Armin and Markus opted to not have their sets streamed live online. The livesets make great souvenirs for those who attended and are available on Montreal-Nightclubs.com by going here.
In the end, Playground Productions and all the DJ’s who played put on an incredible show that will be remembered for years to come. The vibe throughout the event was electric, the crowd was friendly and respectful, and there seemed to be a lot of newcomers in the audience. While many are quick to criticize the presence of young people in the audience, it’s a sign that the scene in Montreal and North America is growing to new heights and promises a very exciting and prosperous future for electronic music in this already great city.
More reviews by our forum members: Bal en Blanc 2012 Reviews
Thanks to Thorium Photography for the pictures: www.thoriumphoto.com