Piknic Electronik in Montreal: A Review

piknic electronik 2017 picnic montreal electronic music djs
••• Piknic Electronik in action. Photo © Evelyn Reid

The Bottom Line

Piknic Electronik, a Montreal outdoor tradition, is an electronic music hub, an oasis of progressive house, tech house, minimal and other genres. Held in Parc Jean-Drapeau, the central dance area is located right underneath a larger-than-life modern art sculpture, L'Homme. But it gets really crowded there and you're more likely to find those with an especially intense nature-loving streak closer to the swim-free waterfront area or sunbathing throughout the grounds.

More INFO: Piknic Electronik Photos and FAQs

Note that in 2017, Piknic is being held is Plaine des Jeux, a different section of Parc Jean-Drapeau due to ongoing construction around L'Homme, the statue serving as Piknic's epidentre since the event debuted in 2003.

Special appearances in 2017 include sets by Tiga (May 22), Jesse Rose (June 18), Chus & Ceballos (July 16), Seth Troxler (August 27), The Black Madonna (September 10), and Josh Wink (September 24).

 

Pros

  • Nice DJ lineups.
  • Beautiful outdoor location.
  • Affordable cover charge.
  • Choice to bring your own food.
  • Food and booze sold on location.

 

Cons

  • Not a lot of sitting space near the dance floor.
  • Bad backs and sensitive joints watch out: the dance floor is concrete.
  • Can get very crowded.
  • More douchey than before. Die hards note a change in the crowd and atmosphere that took hold around 2009.

 

Description

  • When: from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. almost every Sunday, May through September. The 2017 season runs May 21 through September 24, 2017.
  • Crowd: from toddlers to late thirties/early forties. It's not uncommon to see older fans as well though the crowd tends to be heavy on teens and twentysomethings.
  • How Much Alcohol Can I Bring? with picnic food, 1 person is allowed one 750ml bottle of wine OR 3 355ml cans or two 500ml cans of beer. No hard liquor allowed. 2013-2014 UPDATE: Piknickers are no longer allowed to being their own alcohol on location.

 

Piknic Electronik in Montreal: A Review

Piknic Electronik is a fun, mixed bag of surprises. The music --generally tech house, techno, progressive house, and minimal, but covering every electronic genre and sub-genre imaginable, particularly weekends where MUTEK artists are featured-- is top-notch.

Past DJs include Josh Wink, James Holden, Mistress Barbara and MSTRKRFT. And the location, Parc Jean-Drapeau, is picturesque, multipurpose, and easy to get to by public transit, offering a convenient and affordable excuse to get active (ideal for picnics, Frisbee-playing, dog-walking, biking).

The crowd is varied, with most in their late teens and early twenties. There's also a late twenties/thirty something and older crowd ranging from parents bringing their toddlers for a day in the sun to afterhours scenesters in their forties.

Get there early, before 3 p.m., if you want a prime spot in the middle of the action with one of the few plastic chairs and outdoor mattresses scattered on the outskirts of the concrete dance floor.

Located just underneath the huge L'Homme stabile, the Piknic hub has a tribal sensation to it, especially when the dance floor fills up, usually by 5 p.m. For a mellower, more intimate beat-in-the-distance experience, take a left or right past the statue and choose a spot on the grass or walk down the first staircase you see to sit by the water.

Great to attend with a group of friends, the event is also dog and kid-friendly with a play section on site for toddlers. Beer, wine, juice, energy drinks, crêpes and hot dogs are sold near the sculpture.

One last thing. New visitors should know that Piknic is a family and LGBT-friendly event founded on harmony, respect, and tolerance, a place for people who want an electronic music experience without a bar or afterhours feeling.

Children are commonly seen dancing, enjoying an experience many older types would have relished at their age. Yet the 2009 season was plagued with a level of alcohol-related violence and disrespect towards women unheard of in Piknic's history.

In order to protect patrons and the essence of Piknic, alcohol restrictions were put in place for subsequent seasons; organizers made it clear that spring break and frat house style antics would not be tolerated, with bartenders reserving the right to refuse to serve excessively inebriated clients.