There was something special in the air as soon as I got off Bart at the 19th St. Oakland station — and I am not talking about the recreational drugs or the food stands that were all around me, but rather the electricity that resonated with all the people who rushed out of the train eager to get into a club or bar within walking distance. Anywhere on Telegraph Ave. where you could buy a drink had a line that started blending in with the establishment next to it, which continued on for blocks. On this night, it seemed like Oakland was the place to be.
As I walked up 18th St. toward The New Parish, the positive vibes must have started kicking in because I quickly got excited for an act whose music I had never heard before. All the laughs and big grins I must have encountered at the Bart station made me just want to have a good time with some good people, but little did I know how much my fun I really would have.
I put a little more bounce in my step and hurried to the destination where lucky for me, the line was moving quite well. The marquee said “Les Sins” in big font. From the music I could hear outside the venue, I couldn’t help but two-step the moment after I walked through the door. Maybe it was the positive vibes I felt walking briefly around in Oakland, but I took my time looking for my friends.
Occasionally stepping in and out of small groups while dancing to the opening DJ, I couldn’t help but notice that everybody was moving, too. From the coat-check girl to the bar backs, it was as if someone had put a spell on those in attendance to forget all of their problems and genuinely enjoy the night. There were some people with rhythm and some with absolutely none, but all of us were living in the moment. Arms were flailing as people reached for the ceiling, and souls, well, they were definitely being touched.
I have been to Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), Outside Lands and numerous clubs where I had to be intoxicated just to feel the music (disclosure: I’m more of a R&B and hip-hop fan), but this wasn’t it. This was exactly your typical EDM, but rather a soulful mix of them all with an old-school feel and nostalgic samples. I felt as though they took the classic hooks and breaks my older sisters and father used to play and brought them to the forefront by mixing it with more of a modern club sound. Even though some may refer to chillwave as “downtempo pop,” it can give you an uptempo feeling that makes you forget about time. At The New Parish, the room was filled with a multitude of colors and cultures that all moved to the same beat, like we were one life form.
Wanting to get some fresh air, we stepped outside to converse and found a few connected bars in the courtyard, which if you were not feeling the vibe, could go to and still feel like you were apart of the scene. We decided to catch the rest of Taraval’s opening set, and we hurried back to the second balcony to watch the Canadian composer, musician and DJ work his magic on the crowd.
As we made our way up the stairs, we came back to two DJ’s onstage, with the other being the night’s headliner. Les Sins is the alter ego of Chaz Bundick, best known as the brains behind indie-rock stalwart Toro y Moi, and standing side by side, the two artists dropped harmonious beat after beat that complimented each other’s style before Bundick took over, transitioning seamlessly into his headlining set. As if I were having a flashback of a past weekend in Vegas, I subsequently went into a trance and let the music take over my body. And with a drink in my hand, I decided to dance the night away.
Some DJ’s can play music throughout a night and they would all sound like one track, but when it comes to Les Sins, you can feel the difference in every mix. To my surprise, Bundick hasn’t played as many Les Sins shows as he has with Toro y Moi, which made this experience feel somewhat exclusive. Following that night at The New Parish, I can proudly say that I have subscribed to both Les Sins and Toro y Moi; when I’m driving to work or getting ready for a night out on the town, putting on Bundick’s music in one form or another helps me relive what proved to be a magical night in the East Bay.