Eric Prydz at the Armory [360 Experience]

Eric Prydz’s EPIC 4.0 tour ended Feb. 27 in San Francisco. The second of two sold-out nights in the city brought together old school dance music fans, kandi kids and millennial partygoers for a harmonious evening of bass and mind-melting visuals at The Armory, the historic Mission building now owned by Kink.com.

Though billed as progressive house, this was no cheap climb-and-drop generic of the genre. Prydz is a master of foreplay, unafraid of a slow build. Indeed, the first half hour of the set consisted of slow Pryda synth tracks. The visuals took time to intensify as well. First, it was just the LED screens. Then the 3D projection mapping and finally the famous 2000 laser display.


One unexpected highlight that I had overlooked during the album release was “The Matrix.” Now, when I listen to it I will remember one of the most epic big room trance tracks I’ve ever heard. With all the production elements going full blast, this may have been the climax of the evening. The sky was full of lasers slicing the clouds and the visuals were perfectly timed to an epic drop.

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In some ways, the visuals were a little too good. With the dazzling 100-foot cube LED panel flanked with additional lights, audience interaction was limited for the first half of the set. You literally could not pull your eyes away from the screen. In fact, our connection to Prydz himself was blocked off by the screen in front of him. If cell phones during a show bother you, this would have been your nightmare.

Things turned around a bit during “Generate,” my favorite song from “Opus,” Prydz’s 2016 two-disc release. It was more than I had expected live, full of warmth and love. We finally turned away from the light show and beamed at each other, singing along to the inspiring lyrics such as, “There’s nothing we need that we can’t create…” I couldn’t help but think it perfectly matched the euphoric techie optimism flooding San Francisco right now.

Just when we thought Prydz had left us, the mighty bass tone of “Shadows” began rumbling through The Armory. Despite the incredible tracks on “Opus,” “Shadows,” off “Eric Prydz Presents Pryda,” his 2012 debut artist album, remains one of his most powerful songs. It was the perfect adieu to his die-hard fans. The masses stumbled out onto Mission Street, bleary eyed with light trails embedded in our vision.

The show’s spellbinding visuals and the subsequent lack of interaction represents an interesting conundrum in the dance music world today. One of the pillars of rave culture is unity, coming together with strangers for a night of deep connection. I remember a time when people hardly even looked at the DJ because, when they were dancing, they were too busy vibing with the other souls on the dance floor.
Is incredible production value distracting us from each other?
Let’s not forget to dance together and look each other in the eyes. Production value will only get crazier, but the real reason we rave is to connect with one another.

Published for Ripple

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