SF – No Love Lost at Crush SF
Valentine’s Day: a chance to celebrate your significant other or a chance to celebrate your independence from such things.
Whether you love candy hearts and roses or loathe the inherent consumerism of a fake holiday, we can all agree that there’s always time to celebrate music.
Insomniac has brought the heart hands and its larger than life production to the legendary Bill Graham Civic Auditorium since 2015 with Crush SF. The event went down simultaneously in SF, LA and Dallas with LA and SF sharing Afrojack as a headliner.
Full disclosure: I am freelance writer for Insomniac and one of the many perks of working for them is that I often get free admission to the shows. My wife and I were quite surprised to arrive at the box office and receive two VIP tickets for the show. Always a plus when you can go backstage and get a quick chat with an artist.
My wife and I have spent many nights at the Bill Graham Civic, I-somewhat hazily- remember my first time there in 2000 for one of the last Funky Techno Tribe parties. Back then the entire venue was decked out in bass with the two side rooms being used for music as well as the massive auditorium. Upon entering the main floor, I was struck by how much larger the venue used to seem back in the day. That’s not to say it isn’t huge, but it’s somewhat smaller than I remember for sure.
Regardless of my perception of its size, Insomniac used the stage to it’s fullest potential with production that was tailored for the V-Day theme. A massive heart-shaped lighting truss hung from center stage blasting its red light over the crowd. We got there just as Afrojack was wrapping his set up, unfortunately we must have missed him playing any house music. Not to say I can’t get down to some trap and future bass with the best of them, but when I see Afrojack I’d prefer to jack my body to some 4/4 beats.
We decided to explore the venue a bit and were excited to find out that the two rooms which had formerly been side dance floors were now chic lounges with cash bars. We grabbed a couple of drinks and proceeded to chat up some of the ravers that were hanging around. We met a very sweet couple and exchanged info and took a look back stage while we were there.
No matter what the show, Insomniac always does a great job with stage design. Since many of the stages aren’t deep, they’ve become masters at building up often elevating the DJ 10-20 feet off the ground. This was no different, and from this close we could see how tall the three-tiered stage was. But this close we couldn’t get a full sense of how impressive the production really was so we took a trip to the balcony, arguably the best feature of the Bill Graham.
From high above the main floor we were treated to a visual delight. Unfortunately the DJ that was playing was not so delightful. We wandered around a bit more and waited for Shaun Frank to take the stage and by the time he dropped his first sub shaking bass house banger, we were ready to party. Shaun brought the bass as we weaved through progressive and heavy bass house tunes that eventually gave way to future bass and trap bangers. He made his way back to the groovier stuff by the end of his set while featuring a number of guest singers throughout. He played a solid and dynamic set that we enjoyed from our perch in the balcony as we were entranced by the brightest lasers you can use without burning a hole in the wall (the purple ones were my favorite).
By the time Illenium came on, we were in full party mode which we then realized that the show was going to be ending in just under an hour. Luckily a friend of my wife’s texted her randomly to let us know that we could join them at Ruby Skye. They had a table and Markus Schulz was playing. We were in the mood to keep partying for a bit, but by the time we got to Ruby our old asses were gassed out. We stayed for about an hour to enjoy some trance. However we had that nagging feeling that after being at such a grand event, this somehow wasn’t enough to captivate our senses. We were grateful for the invite and the hour we spent making some new friends but alas, we shuffled into a Lyft and made our way across the bridge to finish our only night without our 4 year-old in months at home.
All in all, Insomniac once again knocked it out of the park in terms of production and organization. Crush SF was the perfect way to reconnect to our raver roots and enjoy some much-needed bass therapy.