Flying over OaklandSan Francisco… what an amazing city. Yeah it helped that it was all blue sky and sunshine as we walked down Haight St the day we flew in. And it helped that the city looked a bit like Sydney on a summer’s day from the plane as we flew over the city…

But it’s more than that. I’ve been coming here for years and it has been the kick off spot for many a Burning Man experience so I have a lot of love for this place and the people here. I can’t say I have seen as many huge parties go off in one weekend in a single city anywhere in the world EVER as I did over the past week in San Fran. Not only were there 5 or so biiiig Halloween Bass events – SpiderBall , Mad Hatters Ball, Freakers Ball and more – there was also an incredible Mexican Day of the Dead march and celebration, and the Occupy Oakland protest. A large week by anyone’s standards. I didn’t even scratch the surface of all that, but I did drag myself about the city far more than I normally would have while still managing to do a day in the studio with ill.Gates, Canadian breaks-head turned Californian bass-fiend and Ableton Live guru, and hitting the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration.

Spider Ball 2011My first port of call here was for the Spiderball, an incredible event that I have had the pleasure of jamming at before. The venue, Bentley Reserve, has to be one of San Fran’s most unique music venues. Also known as The Old Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Building, every year Chris and the crew deck it out in scary Halloween fright night bizzle and people come in costumes that look like they’ve just walked off a horror film set. The sound is amazing, the people are super friendly and they dance underneath a gigantic spider that hangs over the dance floor between them and the vast marble ceilings of the old bank building.

(Probably not what the architect had in mind for his Beaux-arts style masterpiece, but you could probably say that about most of San Francisco these days.)

Spider Ball 2011VibeSquad, An-ten-ae and DJ Laura played killer sets varying from low-riding crunkstep thru to party glitch-hop with all manners of crazy shizz in between.

Mr 1%I actually met a member of 1% rallied against by the ‘Occupy’ protests, wandering about with a suitcase of cash offering people the opportunity to make like an irresponsible corporation – nab the cash and run. Unfortunately I got caught in the act, captured on film, the evidence of which you see here…

ill.Gates I have known since he went by the name Phat Conductor and was resident in Toronto, bustin’ out 130bpm basslines for the breaks crew there. He has recently moved to SF, home of the roots of the music that the reinvented ill.Gates currently makes. His new album is a great document of how much of the bass scene in Cali are approaching their music – diverse, multi genre and very West Coast to my ears (even tho he has collaborated with many non-West Coast artists). We slunk down into his Oakland studio that he shares with Ana Sia, another Cali bass stalwart, and dived into a remix of one of his album tracks. Mr Gates has some sick Ableton Live skills, which is to be expected since he teaches workshops on Live and how to maximize your workflow working within its environment, and watching him work was a pleasure. More details on the track to come!

(You can check out his Website with music, tutorials, Live performance glitch templates here:

GhoulsA few days later after I’d gathered my weary senses with a friends over an outstanding meal at the most excellent ‘Gracias Madre’ vegan Mexican restaurant in the Mission, another celebration started – ‘Dia de los Muertos’ – aka ‘Mexican Day of the Dead’.

It’s a celebration of the lives of loved one’s that have passed, and includes a big parade, the construction of elaborate altars on the street in their honor and all and sundry dressed up in skull makeup and amazing costumes.

Steve Jobs altarIt’s an incredibly vibrant and celebratory way to bring the fact of death back into the narrative of our everyday lives, which we prefer to deny in the West, and it allows us to honor those who have passed, as well as remind ourselves that our time in this world is short and so it would probably be a good idea to make it meaningful.

Which is why I thought it was very appropriate that there was an altar to Steve Jobs. Very touching for me as a long time Mac user and it was a sweet space to offer a few thoughts to the great man and to think how I might do more to be like him in however smaller way. He made his life’s mission to make other’s lives easier and to make the impossible seem possible for us all.

Mr Jobs I salute you, thank you for the magic!

Occupy your mindAnd Occupy Oakland… Did I make it?


Why? See the pic… More on that later…

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