Pretty Lights with live band enhances the EDM experience in SF

Pretty-Lights_postPhotos by Kory Thibeault // Written by Molly Kish //

Pretty Lights with Tycho, The Grouch & Eligh, ODESZA //
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco
November 29th, 2013 //

Pretty Lights blasted through SF during Thanksgiving weekend for two electrifying, back-to-back performances at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Accompanied by a full band and his armada of laser light visuals, Derek Vincent Smith curated live, bone-rattling dubstep and blinding optical illusions.

The first night was stacked with an opening bill of local talent. Kicking off the six-hour extravaganza, Pacific Northwest production duo ODESZA warmed the early evening audience up with their distinct brand of crunchy, blissed-out glitch pop. Comprised of Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight, otherwise known as Catacomb Kid and BeachesBeaches, Odesza played an opening set filled with material off their 2012 My Friends Never Die EP. The audience was small but responsive and proceeded to crowd the stage near the end of the set, positioning themselves front and center for the following act.

East Bay hip-hop legends and wildcard on the otherwise electronic heavy bill, The Grouch and Eli were second to take the stage. Drawing in local love from the half-filled auditorium, their set featured material from both emcee’s solo work as well as their respective efforts as a collaborative duo. Reaching an audience filled with old school G&E fans and hardcore bass heads alike, the duo got the crowd moving while teasing the anticipated release of their brand new triple album dropping this upcoming February.


Last on the long list of openers, soundscape specialist and visual artist Scott Hansen, otherwise known as Tycho, took the stage. Playing into the visual effects most fans of the headliner were gearing up to be blown away by for the rest of the evening, Tycho ramped up his normally pictographic set to suit the large scale venue. Playing hits from his 2011 release Dive, along with several singles off of the reissued Past Is Prologue album from 2006, Tycho’s ambient groove and immersive projections welcomed the remainder of the audience that evening.


Packed in tight, without access to the balcony section, the ground floor of Bill Graham Civic started to fill with Pretty Light’s fans seeking out their ideal viewing spot for the evening. The large stage was equipped with all the usual lighting rigs, the elaborate DJ set up and Pretty Light’s token modified disco ball, utilizing the maximum capacity of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium’s dimensions.

However, along with the typical set up expected for the EDM giant, the main platform also included instruments and allotted space for an accompanying band. Dubbed the Analog Future Tour while promoting his recently released album A Color Map of the Sun, Smith decided to bring along a full band on tour with him, many of which played extensively on the record as well, and San Francisco witnessed the first performance.

Comprised of drummer Adam Dietch (Break Science), keyboardist Brian Coogan (New Orleans All-Star), keyboardist Borahm Lee (Break Science), Scott Flynn on trombone (John Brown’s Body) and Eric Bloom on Trumpet (Lettuce), Pretty Lights morphed from a solo project of an electronic mastermind into an ensemble cast. Reanimating hits from his catalogue, Smith brought a brand new sophisticated sound to the Bill Graham Civic, stunning intransigent fans into submission with a full range of wildly talented musicians and mesmerizing lightshow.

View photos from the Break Science after party Saturday November 30 at Mezzanine.


Delving deep into his soul and hip-hop roots, Smith paid tribute to the reggae origins of his electronic genre. Creating live samples of dubstep hits, as well as throwing in a couple covers from pioneers of the Rasta sound, Pretty Lights blew away the expectations of the entranced audience.

Igniting the crowd into a three-hour dance party, Smith tossed the typical notion of an EDM concert experience to the side. Embracing the live elements of a crew of bandmates, Pretty Lights raised the bar for electronic music genre-wide by simply stripping down the electronic manipulation ubiquitously associated with the modern day sound.

Smith managed to stay true to his form as a show stopping DJ, skilled producer and master of his audio-visual craft, while further expanding upon the current state of EDM and for a new kind of dubstep concert experience.


  1. Reblogged this on The Live Bite.


  1. […] Civic Auditorium. The members of Break Science are touring with Pretty Lights at the moment — check out our review and photos from the November 29th Pretty Lights show. Marc Fong caught the after party […]

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