Bal en Blanc 19, Recapped

     I meant “Bal en Blanc 19’s Trance Room, Recapped.” I didn’t spend much time in the main room this year, what with Cosmic Gate’s and Armin van Buuren’s set times overlapping with that of David Guetta and Calvin Harris. Luckily, the Hawt was able to gather information from some of the most unapologetically Guetta-crazy fans in Montreal. In other words, the minuscule contingent of commercial house followers who read this blog have something to look forward to in this review. Don’t worry techno crew, I’ve got you covered too, with more jabs at Nicole Moudaber’s hairdo. Yeah, that rhymed.


     I wasn’t able to catch either Mike McCarthy’s or Offset’s sets, but luckily, they both uploaded them to their SoundCloud pages. Click on their names to find their performances at Bal en Blanc 19.

    I applaud myself for timing my entrance to perfectly coincide with Cosmic Gate’s. It was not more than 15 minutes after I had step foot inside Le Palais des Congrès that Playground technicians queued the transitional audio-visual montage that preceded a switch in artists throughout the event. Off went Van and Nick and on came Nic and Bossi. The set began with a mashup of their “Wake Your Mind” and Porter Robinson’s collaboration with Mat Zo, “Easy.” Equipped with the knowledge of Emma Hewitt’s advent, my brain decided to ditch all information gathered between that song and the Australian singer’s arrival onstage. The trancefamily favorite joined the German duo with a multi-colored, color variable microphone stand. She added eye candy and live vocals to “Not Enough Time” and “Be Your Sound” before taking a break to let Cosmic Gate occupy the middle of their set by themselves, with tracks like Omnia’s “The LIght” and Audien’s “Wayfarer.” Hewitt returned near the end of the two-hour timeslot and sang along Cosmic Gate’s remix of her own “Colours,” as well as “Calm Down.” Leaving to a sea of cheers and roars, Nic and Bossi eased Emma’s departure with their last tracks of the night, both the “Back 2 the Future” and original mix of “Exploration of Space.”

     Meanwhile in the main room, David Guetta was treating his admirers to a set that is best described as mechanical:


     Somewhat veering away from his top 40/commercial image, the French superstar spun a set that his fans from 2004 would agree with. Utilizing tempo changes and many recognizable vocal cuts from his catalogue, Guetta pleased with mashups, as well as his confident onstage attitude. Completely spellbound, the crowd was more than happy to hear him finish with Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child.

armin beb19

     Back to the trance room, next up was AvB. I can’t prove it, but I’ve got the feeling that David Guetta’s one year holdover as DJMag champion frustrated Armin. Knowing Guetta was playing opposite him in the main room, he sought out to prove it was a fluke and brought out his A-game in the process. He opened with the second play of Omnia’s “The Light,” followed by the brilliant “Sinai” from ilan Bluestone. Soon after came an exhilarating mashup comprised of Broning’s “Smash!” and AvB’s and Ana Criado’s “Suddenly Summer,” paving the way for many more musical medleys, like the meshing of “Airport” and “Shivers,” as well as a mix of “Not Giving Up On Love” with another I can’t remember, a track that had the entire room singing aloud. It was with roughly an hour left that Armin reminded everyone that it was our [Montreal’s] night and asked us what a nice time we were having, before dropping the illegal drum edit of his Ferry Corsten collaboration, “Brute.” The way in which he brought the room from 128BPMs to 140BPMs was magical and at the apex of his set, I felt as though he alone was worth the $150 ticket.


     Electricity was in the air when Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten emerged, their bratty New World Punx logo flashing onscreen. They took the energy level Armin left and ran with it,  spinning an artistically scattered set with tracks that were both slower and fast-paced, melodious and percussion-based and dark and uplifting. For example, they played their collaborative revival, “Loops and Tings,” as well as one of the most live show-friendly tracks from Corsten’s WKND, “Not Coming Down.” After they had offered their official New World Punx mashup of “Mammoth” and “Live Forever,” the night hit its highest point. First, I met the hairiest, most Sasquatch-like individual I had ever seen in my life.


      There was a solid 10-minute period during which I couldn’t help but stare at this shaggy guy, so entranced was I by the overwhelming amount of fur he carried on his body. The most bizarre part was, when I approached him to ask if I could take his picture, I noticed that his chest was completely bare, as if he had just shaved it with the sharpest of straight razors. My gaze was broken when NWP selected the Alex O’Rion remix of Ferry Corsten’s and Betsie Larkin’s “Stars.” I was entranced once again, this time by the sheer beauty of this wonderful piece of music. I’m not embarrassed to say that I adore this song so much that I almost shed a tear, while I pitched my arms up high and let my sobbing voice join the cries of the Bal en Blanc faithful.


     This is when I scurried over to the main room for the first time of the night. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about Nicole Moudaber. For those of you who don’t follow this blog, we’re not big fans of techno, so I can subjectively say that the music sucked. Her hair, however, did not. I soon as I laid my eyes on those beautiful tresses, I was entranced once more. Hers is not a typical afro, but rather, the kind curly-haired folks grow when they’re awesome. She can tie it up and make it look like it’s twice as voluminous, let it down and completely hide her face, or ruffle it up to make herself look like a mad scientist. Needless to say, I’d buy that wig.


     Then came the night’s final act, for me anyways. W&W’s set was populated by mashups, a bootleg of Zedd’s “Clarity,” the second play of their remix of Armin’s new one, “This Is What it Feels Like,” an awkward change of pace that unexpectedly brought the BPMs from 130+ to about 80, then back up again, the passing out of two wide-eyed ravers that the paramedics had to aid, and a play of the very latest out on their Mainstage label, Mark Sixma’s “Requiem.” I only stuck around for Andrew Rayel’s first few tracks, but I heard that his set was one of the best of the event, so joke’s on me for leaving early.

zebra balloon

     Altogether, Bal en Blanc 19 was a success. From a production standpoint, the onscreen visuals in the trance room were never stagnant and often switched up to keep the eye guessing, the balloon and confetti drops were well-timed, the sound quality was great and the laser light show was also well-done. One thing I could’ve done without was the insect dancers. Bal en Blanc’s theme called for it, but the insects were far more distracting than anything else. Luckily, they only occupied their position for short spurts throughout the night. Other than that lonesome gripe, the team at Playground Productions did a great job and I can only hope they do the same next year!

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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