The first song of 2015 was “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
At least it was for the 1,500 people rocking out at TBD Fest’s first-ever New Year’s Eve block party. And, yeah, okay, it was a remix. But it was A-Trak’s seminal remix.
Without a doubt, it was the biggest New Year’s Eve party in Sacramento—the place to be, the images that plagued Instagram and surely the event many more people will be looking forward to next December. It completely sold out in advance—even when prices nearly doubled to $80, the last lot of tickets moved quickly.
Earlier in the day, I had some concerns. I feared the near-freezing temperatures, as well as being pressed between obnoxious assholes with no escape. I dreaded unbearably long lines for drinks, or worse, bathrooms. I was worried about finding water, especially when no refillable bottles were allowed inside.
But everything was totally fine. There was more than enough room to dance, walk around and even sit down for breathers. The lines were long, but manageable, spread out between LowBrau, Mr. Pickle’s Sandwich Shop, Azul and Pizzeria Urbano, along with the porta potties and pop-up bar in the street. With all those businesses open, water was easy too. With the exception of one almost-fight between some very, very drunk guys close to midnight, everyone was sweet and friendly. People behaved.
Aesthetically, the block definitely pleased. Market lights formed a crisscrossed ceiling, strung from 20th Street’s lines of trees. Chairs and benches surrounded heat lamps like mini-bonfire gatherings. And a few art installations gave the party a more festival-like feel.
Dressed in pink sequins, local emcee Andru Defeye hosted the evening with his Mobbment crew. The glowing, massive main stage featured A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs, co-founders of iconic indie dance label Fool’s Gold, along with Gigamesh, Oliver, Sister Crayon and Chllngr. Other deejays—DJ Greg J, Sam I Jam, Jurts—spun inside LowBrau, offering a classic nightclub vibe with VIP tables and all.
Starting at 6 p.m.—with no ins and outs allowed—was perhaps a bit ambitious. The block felt pretty empty up until about 9 p.m., when Oliver hit the stage. And it still didn’t quite feel like a massive, raging party until the middle of Gigamesh’s 10 p.m. set. Despite the strong lineup, most ticket holders chose to arrive late and sprint through 2014’s final hours.
Gigamesh, perhaps best known for his remix of Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” packed his set with other crowd-friendly tunes mashed with ‘80s beats—Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” was much appreciated.
For those into the indie EDM scene, A-Trak is a big, big deal. Getting him to Sacramento, to usher us into 2015, was a big, big deal. But obviously, he’s not a household name for everyone. Beyond his label Fool’s Gold, which fostered the likes of Kid Cudi and Danny Brown, he spent years as Kanye West’s tour deejay. And he’s one half of electronic duo Duck Sauce. You surely at least know “Barbra Streisand.”
Anyway, A-Trak’s showmanship on the turntable was real impressive, even with his impressive credentials. His latest single “Push,” featuring pulsing piano and Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt, was everything I wanted in the evening’s electro-house.
Countdown. Confetti. “Heads Will Roll.” A couple more songs and it was all over.
Well, tropical synth-pop duo and TBD Fest alumni Ghost Beach provided one last set inside LowBrau. But based on how crowded the bar was earlier, I didn’t even attempt to smush myself inside. And judging by the quick exodus, I assume most folks felt the same way.
What can we expect next from the TBD team? Apparently, we don’t have to wait until the big festival in October. TBD is apparently planning something local called Stranger Fest. No details yet beyond this tweet:
— TBD Fest (@tbdfest) January 1, 2015