Nina Kraviz / Robert Hood / CMD Igloofest, Montreal QC, January 25

Nina Kraviz / Robert Hood / CMD Igloofest, Montreal QC, January 25
Photo: Paola Kudacki
Choosing a local opener for heavy hitters like Robert Hood and Nina Kraviz (pictured) is no easy feat, but when looking around the neighbourhood for potential candidates, CMD really is the obvious choice. Having recently opened for Plaid and Moritz Von Oswald, this should've been a walk in le parc, yet it turned out to be more like a sprint. She dominated the decks with a level of seamless mixing that wasn't really seen elsewhere all weekend. She only had an hour, and though her set was a different style altogether, for our money, she was better than Hood, who stepped up right after.
With an artist like Robert Hood, who's been around for 30 years at this point, his set could've been comprised of almost anything. If we're to look at his more recent releases, and his DJ-Kicks mix from 2018, however, there's been a noticeable push toward big-room techno. While this shift wasn't particularly well-received by longtime fans, it's tailor-made for a sprawling outdoor stage such as Igloofest's. The big buildups and drops of that style work incredibly well when you're trying to hold the attention of such a large audience. It's a crowd pleaser; you're told exactly when to wait and exactly when to jump. The only thing is, these methods just seem a tad cheap in the hands of a legend like Hood. We're not here to lambaste a whole sub-genre, but big-room techno just doesn't suit someone like Hood. Admittedly, some of the vocal tunes he played were magical moments of the night, but for a key figure like this, we expected a lot more — he's considered one of the founders of minimal techno, for crying out loud.
While this isn't a review of the weather, it has to be mentioned. With 15 cm falling in the space of a few hours, the snow was as much a feature of Igloofest as any of the performers. It was relentless, and made the music seem harder than ever, complementing the techno perfectly. We can't say the same for the deep house of Hicky & Kalo, nor Jeremy Olander, who played the Videotron stage, unfortunately. Snow storms and tropical vibes are an odd combo. Their sets plodded along at a leisurely pace, and were fun at times, but with Kraviz tearing it up around the corner, it was hard to stick around.
Hailing from Siberia, Nina Kraviz is no stranger to these kinds of conditions. She looked comfortable up there on the main stage, but she wasn't there to relax, she was there pummel the crowd with four-to-the-floor techno. "Bring" by Randomer set some dark tones early on, and things just got more and more menacing from there. As expected, she played a number of tracks from her record label трип (trip). Antigone's "Dance" was one of the highlights of the night, alongside "Elvis Has Left the Building" by Vladimir Dubyshkin. Some '90s rave tracks reared their head too, but not the anthemic, soft piano tracks you might be thinking of; this was industrial-strength trance in the form of "Out Here We're Stoned." Seeming to up herself at every turn, the last couple tracks just had someone screaming violently. It's hard to go up from there, so she went down. It would've been surprising if she didn't play "Ghetto Kraviz," her breakout track from 2011, but she didn't disappoint.
Hot tip: if you want someone to remember your DJ set, be sure to drop a track with your own name in it at the very end. The crowd left with Kraviz firmly implanted in their heads, as many echoed the words "ghetto ghetto ghetto ghetto" on the way out.
With another couple of weekends to go, featuring Kaytranada, Eprom, Charlotte De Witte and a host of others, Igloofest's 14th edition still has a lot more in stock. Just be sure to bring some mittens.