San Francisco Sails Into the New Year On A Sea of Dreams

04 January 2014 - - - The DJ List


This year, Sea of Dreams celebrated its fifteenth year as San Francisco’s premiere underground New Year’s Eve event with the help of Anon Events, Another Planet Entertainment and Sunset Promotions. What started back as a small, intimate gathering of Burning Man theme camps has slowly but surely grown into an extravagant event adorned with eye-candy in every direction: from the stages, to the décor and right down to the costumed festival go-ers themselves. Thanks to the involvement and love from the community, the evening has evolved into perfect, creative storm of immersive art and interactive entertainment. Joegh Bullock, the visionary behind and Artistic Director of Anon Events, came up with the event back in ’99 during an event called ‘Supernova’ down at the port of San Francisco’s Pier 35; as he gazed across the Pacific for inspiration, he conjured up the perfect moniker – ‘ Sea of Dreams’ in reference to the dreams that we all carry with us into the New Year. The night was held at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium which was a true dream come true for the production and promotional staff. Each and every person working on the event has the utmost respect for the both Bill Graham and the legend he left within the city of San Francisco and the music industry; and this year, it was as if things had come full circle.

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“Every year before, Sea of Dreams has been limited by the sound production available and cost – and this year, with [it] at Bill Graham, we’re suddenly dealing with some of the best sound in the area; you can facilitate conversation, you’re not just constantly bombarded with music."

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In past years, Sea of Dreams has been held at the Concourse and due to venue limitations there had only been one stage but when Bill Graham Civic Auditorium opened their doors and halls, including Polk and Larkin Hall, to the Sea of Dreams family, the idea of multiple stages, circulating art and a rotating crowd was born. To boot, core attendance numbers for the night have been down as people have been turning to smaller, more intimate events the day after New Year’s Eve like Breakfast of Champions thrown by the Space Cowboys, or Supper of Survivors later that night. As they introduce two new stages to the evening, Sea of Dreams hopes to recreate those intimate micro-communities. Anon Events has gained an exceptional right hand man within Another Planet Entertainment, who brought in the talents of LITTLE DRAGON, DILLON FRANCIS and A-TRAK to the lineup. Though all three acts play mainstream EDM shows, neither of them are considered mainstream entertainment by any means. In the end, even though the venue has changed - the ethos carried by the night is not.

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For those that chose to migrate throughout the night, Larkin and Polk Halls had amazing lineups just without the big names. MINNESOTA both opened and closed Larkin Hall, dousing the crowd with his infectious energy and delicious dubstep. The stage hosted groups like THRIFTWORKS, LOWRIDERZ (LAURA LOW and AN-TEN-NAE) and EMANCIPATOR who infused the audience with acid crunk, glitch hop and overall simply trippy tunes. Polk Hall saw an influx of deep and tech house coming from Dax Lee and Nolan Gray. When CLAUDE VONSTROKE’s Dirty Bird team took the stage, the crowd got funky – as WORTHY, CHRISTIAN MARTIN and J.PHLIP gave the crowd a lesson in shakin’ your money maker and the room closed with THIEVERY CORPORATION's own ROB GARZA doing a solo set.

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The Main Room had the most diverse lineup of the night, as well as the most performance art of any of the three rooms. The night started out with some dirty bass and Trap from the sexy, spunky DJ JOCELYN who got the party moving for the first two hours. The pace slowed down as LITTLE DRAGON took the stage, winding their way through hits like Crystalfilms. THIEVERY CORPORATION picked things up and got the entire room moving with their Bossa Nova and EDM infused jam session that carried through to the ball drop. With their magnetic stage presence, it’s no wonder that the band is a favorite among the crowd as well as the promotional teams. The surprise of the main stage was a back to back 1am set between A-TRAK and DILLON FRANCIS, who flew in earlier that evening after a performance at SnowGlobe in Lake Tahoe. The two tag-teamed the stage and even brought out vocalist Danny Brown to flow over a track. For a moment, the crowd didn’t became restless and quickly dissipated – only to run back when A-TRAK came back to the deck to once again, give everyone a lesson in DJ technique and once he stepped down, DILLON FRANCIS closed down the main stage with his signature Moombhaton-Electro House sound.

From the second the doors to Bill Graham Auditorium opened costumed festival go-ers excitedly poured into the Auditorium, eager for what the evening had in store for them. Art in all forms riddled the venue – from the expansive murals on the second floor captivating live art in the main room, canvases were everywhere; but as Sea of Dreams knows, art is far more than what a canvas contains. There were live performance artists wandering the grounds, engaging inquisitive attendants with their stilt walking, juggling, aerial acrobatics and hooping abilities. And as people meandered between the sages, they could engage in $2 massage tables or some festive face-makeup and if they were lucky enough – snag some New Year’s Eve accessories while they were at it.

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As the West Coast music scene grows within the EDM industry itself, production teams and organizations are looking to events like Sea of Dreams for inspiration. The growth of the event can be attributed twofold – there are 50 to 100 volunteers that pour their hearts into the event every year that keep the staff young, but the teams also garner inspiration from anywhere and everywhere they can. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and it’s ever present within the EDM industry. From decorations and lineups, to dancers and live art – it’s almost part of the creative culture to borrow from each other. As Joegh said, “In this business we all borrow from each other – when I got to a festival I say that should be at Sea of Dreams; that should be at my party. You can call it stealing, pirating – but we’re all just sharing the world." And what a beautiful world that is.

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Keep up with Sunset Promotions, Anon Events and Another Planet Entertainment for their next venture – if Sea of Dreams is any indication of what’s to come, you definitely shouldn't miss it.

Sunset Promotions: Sea of Dreams, Silent Frisco, Ghost Ship, All Shook Down, SF Funk Festival, North Beach Jazz
Webpage | Facebook | Twitter

Anon Events: Sea of Dreams, How Weird Street Fair, Super Hero Street Fair, Decompression Street Fair, Masquerotica Costume Ball
Webpage | Facebook | Twitter

Another Planet Entertainment: Fox Oakland, Independent San Francisco, Greek Theatre, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
Website | Facebook | Twitter

About the Author

Amanda Pearl
a-trak christian martin claude vonstroke dillon francis j.phlip thievery corporation worthy little dragon thriftworks minnesota emancipator lowriderz antennae