When news leaked that Nero, Kill the Noise, and Feed Me would be performing a free show at an undisclosed location in San Francisco, an all-out hysteria ensued. Links to a cryptic website bearing a backdrop of scrolling numbers flooded the Internet. Before long, the surreptitious password “trustno1” surfaced, granting access to the mysterious “.party()” (pronounced “dot party” ) website. Within two days, 13,000 people had RSVP’d to the event.
On Thursday, March 20th, iconic game developer Markus Persson, or Notch as he is known, brought his second .party() to SF. The event served as a meshing of the distinct, yet parallel cultures of gaming and electronic music. Coinciding with the 2014 Game Developer’s Conference, Notch united gaming enthusiasts and die-hard dance music fans in an epic celebration of technology and music. Aside from its unique social intentions, the free event put the spotlight on issues of freedom in the digital world, with the night’s aesthetic satirizing mass surveillance and the recent allegations against the NSA. Proceeds from the event even went to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, Notch and the Production Club team completely revamped the historic venue, turning the normal 8,000 capacity into an intimate 2,000 person setting. In contrast to the venue’s typical arrangement with the stage at the front of the room, Notch and crew opted to put the DJ booth in the middle, erecting a central tower reminiscent of a panopticon. Both the tower and the walls of the venue were covered in low-res video panels, creating an immersive digital environment. The outer ring of the room consisted of elevated platforms, creating multiple levels of viewing and enhancing the futuristic feel. The entire vibe of the room was an immaculate construction: you felt a sense of awe the moment you stepped in. The sound system itself was more than ideal: loud enough feel full and rich, yet not so loud as to be overbearing or cumbersome to the ears.
The night began with mystery group Go to Jail showing off the system’s capabilities with some heavy trap selections before the secret guests of the night, GTA, stepped up to the decks. The Miami duo ramped up the energy in the room quickly, brandishing their patented blend of big room house, hip-hop, trap and more. As Feed Me and Kill the Noise appeared on stage, the night truly took off. When Notch and Production Club approached the two about playing a back-to-back set, Jon and Jake were all for the idea. In fact, the two producers, who revealed that they have been friends for over ten years now, have been collaborating in the studio lately and the opportunity proved a chance to collectively test out some of their new material.
The set that followed was a genre-defying showcase of classy mixing ability. The two jumped tempos with precision, moving from progressive house pieces such as “Dazed” and “Embers” by Feed Me to ripping 140-160bpm tracks from Kill the Noise like “Mosh Pit” and his remix to “Ghosts in the Machine.” Aside from their own brilliant productions, the back-to-back set afforded the two DJs a chance to let loose their taste in potent bass. From Dillon Francis’s remixes of “Night is On My Mind” and “Knas,” to Brillz’s hefty “Rvchet Bitch,” to the dark, grime-infused swagger of I Am Legion’s “Choosing For You,” Jake and Jon’s selections were all over the map. The two even managed to sneak in some drum ‘n’ bass before ending the set with Kill the Noise and Skrillex’s recent collaboration with Fatman Scoop, “Recess.”
Finally it was time for Nero. Daniel Stephens and Joe Ray have been quiet for far too long. A silent storm is brewing as the world awaits their sophomore album. Their live appearances have been rare, and thus it was quite a treat that Notch was able to book the entire trio, Alana included. Opening their set as they did at HARD Day of the Dead with their ominous, unidentified new track, the dystopian-flavored slogan rang out: “Control, power, authority, force…” The cataclysmic drop that followed was that familiar Nero potency with flawlessly stacked synths and their signature seismic bass. Next came a series of familiar Nero originals, from “Guilt” and “Crush on You” to “Doomsday.” “My Eyes” served as a sentimental break, with Alana belting out the intimate lyrics live to the swooning crowd. Skrillex and Nero’s high octane drum ‘n’ bass remix of “Holdin’ On” led to Nero’s classic “Icky Thump” routine, followed closely by another one of their favorites, dark techno anthem “Control Movement” by Gesaffelstein.
The set culminated with their cinematic piece “Into the Past” from The Great Gatsby score, with Alana once again delivering an inspiring and emotional performance. As the curfew hit, the night looked to be over, but not before Nero broke into a disco rampage, dropping plenty of dance classics, including the original “Crush on You” by The Jets.
At the end of the day, .party() is a truly unique concept. Merging the worlds of gaming and electronic music is an attractive idea in the first place, but when you throw a headlining set from Nero and a back-to-back set from Kill the Noise and Feed Me into the picture, the awesomeness increases tenfold. Combine that with free admission, a killer aesthetic, and righteous intentions, and you’ve got one of my favorite events of the year. Much thanks to Notch for a killer show.
Check out the official video recap: