In the last several years, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco has become somewhat of a venerated locale for the raving community of the Bay Area. Countless performers bring their biggest and best shows to this particular venue, packing it to the gills with eager and devoted fans of electronic dance music. I can say that I’ve seen nearly every particular electronic sub-genre make its way here in one form or another, and play host to shows that are simply madness. While there are many raves, though, none quite do it the way Insomniac does it. The company known for hosting the astonishingly over-the-top festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) and Beyond Wonderland has become somewhat of a force to be reckoned with as the years have gone on. Bar none, they host events throughout the world that bewilder the senses, with extravagant stage designs and the biggest and best names in dance music topping their bills. Insomniac have been introducing one-off raves in various cities over the last several years to hold fans over until the return of their coveted three-day festivals. The Bay Area has become a coveted hub for a number of these events, including Crush (Valentines Day), BOO (Halloween), and the two-day Audiotistic event that’s usually held in the summer.
This time around, we are given Bay Nites, an event that features a wide variety of dance music artists, ranging from traditional dubstep (Flux Pavilion), modern-day hip-hop (Rich The Kid), dub and trap (4B), and so much more. In addition to the aforementioned three artists, the lineup was rounded out by Los Angeles’ Yultron and Wenzday, Australia’s Wax Motif, and Southern Florida’s Diablo. The amazing thing about not just dance music shows, but Insomniac shows in particular, is that once an artist takes the stage, it’s very easy to tell what their unique style is. Everyone brought something completely different to the table that evening; repeat songs between DJs were a rarity throughout the night, and the clean stage set-up and video production drew all spectators into the experience. My personal favorite of the evening ended up being Yultron. You can never go wrong with playing some fan favorites, and his set came off as a retrospective of the last several years of electronic dance music, pulling from a catalogue of greatest hits that the crowd hungrily fed off of. He gets bonus points from throwing in remixes of "Faint” (Linkin Park), “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” (Fall Out Boy), and yes, even “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (Green Day). It worked tremendously, and he got some of the best crowd reactions of the night.
One of the more peculiar aspects to the evening was the inclusion of a hip-hop artists on a nearly all-dance music bill. Rich The Kid had the main support slot, hitting the stage around 10:30 to a crowd packed full of ravers. At first, it really didn’t seem like it flowed well with the course of the show. But as the set continued, and more songs came forth that people knew and reacted to, it worked rather well and made for a great time. It was almost sort of a pallet cleanser from all of the heavier dance-driven music (most people around me took a seat for a little while to relax their feet before getting up for Flux Pavilion). By the end of Rich The Kid’s set, everyone in the auditorium was into it.
Flux Pavilion took the stage for a one hour headlining set that featured what I could only dub as “emotional dubstep” (patent pending). Interspersed within the wall-shattering bass and dubstep drops were smooth, melodic, almost trance-like moments that showed off a new depth to Flux Pavilion’s work. “Are you ready to feel some stuff tonight, San Francisco?” the UK-based producer remarked to the arena amidst a roar of approval. This “emotional dubstep” proved to be the perfect closer to the evening, and the producer closed a show with a newer song that he states he couldn’t use in his set due to it having a weirder time signature that didn’t fit with the other tracks. After the new song wrapped things up, the crowd cheered and emptied out into the streets of Downtown San Francisco. But don’t worry. Insomniac will return, and so will everyone in that arena. They always do, and Bay Nites is a crystal clear example as to why Insomniac attendees return to their events, time and time again.