Jon April and I sipped homemade cocktails on BART as we slipped underneath the warm water of the San Francisco Bay toward Oakland, the 85-year-old Fox Theater, more than 1,000 ferocious fans, and one talented young German.
When we entered The Fox, which is the unofficial sister-venue of SF’s The Warfield in look, decor, and size, Oliver was on, pounding the crowd with their heaviest brand of “Oliver” house music–edgy and powerful, but still very composed and endlessly sexy.
After a bathroom break, I returned to the familiar thumping of Breach’s Jack as the 60-foot, ornate stage opened its maw, encapsulating Oliver as they pumped the building full of high-energy vibes.
I swerved my way down to ground zero where some serious gloving was going off. Bodies danced, swayed, leaned, embraced, sat, and laid harmoniously in delightfully proper raver fashion, engaging in all the typical raver behavior, waiting for their hero to appear on the stage above the carpeted pit.
Oliver moved bodies with Move Your Body after working in Steve Aoki & Chris Lake’s Soooo Freakin. A damn fine opening set from two guys who could play the venue themselves one day.
Zedd appeared at last behind a 15-foot, LED-walled platform above where Oliver stood, and he wasted no time getting into some huge big-room vibes. After a few tracks, he pulled a surprise move, transitioning into Wake Me up, despite the light teasing he’s slung Avicii’s way at least once or twice over the years.
After the unmistakable intro played out, Zedd dropped back into the Netherlands with a smile, and the crowd followed willingly, cheering for the creative detour. He revisited snippets of the country-prog jam as accents, but mostly kept the electro on full blast, while the fantastic visuals on all sides cradled his silhouette from front to back as he applied his remix of Breakn’ A Sweat. I wiped the beading moisture from my forehead with the sleeve of my LT3 tee just as Zedd silenced the sound system and crowd completely.
“Oakland, how you doin’?”
The remainder of Breakn’ A Sweat brought the crowd to its full potential, and Zedd kicked the residual tension in the teeth with Kick Out The Epic Motherf*cker.
I bailed on the (financially) exclusive pit for the balcony… because we rep the people, dammit! As I joined some of the wildest fans ever forced into stadium seating, Zedd dipped into his sinfully cheesy Skrillex mashup, Don’t Slam The Cinema, a personal favorite of mine. Then, the little German trapped us! Not sure how he did it, because honestly, I was too turnt up to remember, and I don’t take great notes when I’m turnt up, but he did it. Then, it was back to 128–like nothing happened.
Now, it’s time for my favorite part of stadium-based shows (drumroll, please)… the back row! Sweat, light shows, disco naps, “close encounters,” and more abound; the edge of this universe is home to some strange creatures, indeed. The view is stellar–nothing but a sea of hands framing Zedd’s shadow wrapped in LED against the black of the theater as the speakers blared out Stay The Night.
Then, calamity ensued as a wild and unanimous approval arose from the crowd in the form of outstretched hands and synchronized voices for Clarity as it took its destined place as the crowd favorite of the night.
Jon April and I were leaving with the rest of the bodies, taking some last notes and pictures on the way out, when a thump boomed across the crowd and Zedd returned for an encore. We turned to each other, shrugged, holstered our respective tools-of-the-trade, and dove back in for another go.