Bay Area music fans ring in 2016 at The Big One

The Big One - The Flaming LipsPhotos by Josh Miller & Erin Milgram // Written by Molly Kish & Kevin Quandt //

The Big One //
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco
December 31st, 2015 //

2016 descended upon SF in epic fashion at Another Planet Entertainment’s New Year’s Eve celebration, aptly titled “The Big One”. With more than 17 musical acts, live art installations and three separate galleries of entertainment at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, partygoers were showered by a psychedelic flurry of confetti and balloons during The Flaming Lips’ midnight countdown and continued partying into the early-morning hours.

We were on the scene to revel in what easily was the Bay Area’s wildest NYE 2015 party, and here are our favorite highlights from the night.

The Big One - The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips

When one considers bombastic artists to ring in a New Year or perform at any major party holiday, The Flaming Lips likely come to mind, as the Oklahoma City psych-rock band has created one of the most over-the-top displays in the music industry. This evening was no exception as frontman Wayne Coyne started the evening atop a structure that could be described as some warped, LED octopus. “The Gold Mountain in our Madness” opened the Lips’ set as the energy in the room quickly lifted from the mellow vibes of Tycho that came before. The mercury continued to rise as the midnight hour approached. A cover of the Miley Cyrus collaboration “Evil Is But a Shadow” was the first track to greet the attendees in 2016, and though some were bummed we didn’t get an appearance from Miley, the celebratory atmosphere was in full swing. -KQ

The Big One - Ratatat


Ratatat kept feet moving with their unique amalgamation of dance rock, which left many to decide between head-banging and crushing dance moves. “Pricks of Brightness” and “Loud Pipes” were early highlights from this Brooklyn duo, who saw a tremendous return to form in 2015 with the release of Magnifique. Props should be given to Another Planet Entertainment and HUSHconcerts for slotting in this live duo over a big-name DJ. Moves like this make us hopeful for The Big One in the coming years. -KQ

The Big One - Tycho


The late cancellation from XXYYXX left some attendees in Larkin Hall a tad disappointed, but an extended set from Scott Hansen, popularly known as Tycho, kept revelers in the mood for continued dance-floor high jinks. As this DJ set stretched into its second hour, Hanson shifted to a style more akin to the beat-bass stylings of the original slated artist. This move may have even thrown some for a loop, as they could have easily assumed it was XXYYXX at the helm. -KQ

The Big One


Ghostly International recording artist Shigeto (born Zachary Shigeto Saginaw) held his own in Larkin Hall while being pitted against the downtempo soundscapes of Tycho in the venue’s main room. Serving as the perfect transition between his labelmate Scott Hanson’s ambient performance and The Flaming Lips’ onslaught of maniacal theatrics, Shigeto’s stripped-down live show was a welcomed choice for those attendees looking to ramp it up a notch before the NYE midnight countdown. He performed at ground level to an intimately devoted crowd and layered his jazz-infused electronic beats over mind-blowing live percussion, switching back and forth in real time between manning his mixing board and pounding away feverishly on his full drum kit mere inches away from the audience. -MK

The Big One - Gramatik


After a mind-melting, ball-dropping performance from The Flaming Lips, the audience was reinvigorated by the ax-wielding electronic giants Ratatat, followed by Slovenia-born and Brooklyn-based producer Gramatik. Heavy bass lines and spine-tingling beats filled the main auditorium as Denis Jašarević, in prime position to close the night’s festivities out on a high, took over the main auditorium with his signature glitch-hop bangers. Although much of the crowd had thinned by the time this early-hours set commenced, true ragers were in rare form and ready to “womp” their way into 2016. Dropping a slew of hits, including his single “Native Son” featuring Raekwon, Gramatik kept his audience moving all the way until 3 a.m. Crowd members sprawled throughout the entire auditorium, dancing and laughing until the final bassline thumps knocked the remnants of glitter, confetti and balloons from the rafters. -MK

Father John Misty wins our unofficial NYE 2015 photo contest

Father John Misty

Known for some of the best stage banter in the business and his classic improv-snark, which includes his 1989 antics just a few months ago, Father John Misty was back at it on New Year’s Eve, deadpanning in true FJM fashion.

In what’s become an ongoing series of Instagram photos (now up to a total of 10) that shows our No. 4 favorite live music act of 2015 glued to his phone, whether he’s playing air hockey, doing a television interview or performing live, Tillman made us laugh — as he often does — with his latest offering on NYE, sitting by himself with a drink in hand while checking his phone in a decked-out hotel room full of colorful balloons at the famed Chateau Marmont, one of his favorite spots in Los Angeles.

Around this time last year, we asked if “Father John Misty is playing a character”, and while we still don’t have a definitive answer to that question (and who knows if we ever will), we admittedly just can’t get enough of the FJM persona, whether partially manufactured or not.

We can only assume that Tillman was hanging out with LA-based pop artist Alia Penner since she was tagged in the photo (serving, presumably, as a photo credit) and due to the fact that she documented the scene sans Tillman with her own Instagram photo shortly thereafter, but based on what we saw via social media from across the music industry Thursday night, “Mr. Honeybear” undoubtedly won our unofficial NYE 2015 photo contest before the ball dropped on 2016.

Father John Misty

Thievery Corporation, Little Dragon, A-Trak, Dillon Francis ring in NYE 2013 at Sea of Dreams

Sea-of-DreamsPhotos by Mike Frash // Written by Molly Kish //

Sea of Dreams //
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco
December 31st, 2013 //

The Sea of Dreams’ 14th annual New Years Eve celebration took on a new theme and venue for their 2014 transcendental gala, VibrantSea. Playing upon the theme of “energetic realms of felt experience,” the festival relocated from its previous residency to the heart of San Francisco, taking over the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for nine whimsical hours to ring in 2014.

Presenting a challenging shift in spatial dimensions, the new venue helped to curate a very different experience than most have come to expect with Sea of Dreams festivities. In previous years, attendees have had to navigate through the crowd constraints of a shotgun floor plan, but the Bill Graham Civic allowed for revelers to flow freely amidst its ample space and side rooms. Enhancing the overall experience and motif of the evening, movement amongst the masses maintained a comfortable fluidity throughout the auditorium and allowed for ample time to immerse in the entirety of the VibrantSea experience.


Swedish synth pop fourtet Little Dragon got the venue stirring after an opening set by DJ Jocelyn on the main stage. Pulling tracks from their entire catalogue, this one-off performance was the perfect way to usher in the multitudes of fans and first time observers. The soulful electronic grooves of this opening performance was highlighted by familiar favorite “Ritual Union” and a striking dub remix of their 2011 hit “Little Man.”

Next up on the Main Stage, Thievery Corporation brought their unique blend of world music, electronica and hip hop to the party. Ramping up the eccentric auditorium with a full band ensemble and rotating vocalists, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton brought the largest crowd of the evening together under the floating lanterns, inflatable sea creatures and the eventual sea of balloons that dropped over the dancing masses at midnight. Their set began with diva-led revelry and led to hip-hop driven songs after midnight.


Thievery’s hip-hop driven post-midnight jams transitioned nicely into late night heavy hitters A-Trak and Dillon Francis, who went back to back with bass-pounding performances. Scheduled directly after one another, the EDM giants treated the crowd to a rare collaboration, sharing duties as selector while vibing off the other for the next choice.

The two competitively battled as rap prodigy and NYE Mezzanine headliner Danny Brown made a debaucherous late night appearance that sounded a bit like spent karaoke. But Brown’s presence brought new life to the cavernous Civic Center, so witnessing Danny Brown perform with A-Trak and Dillon Francis was icing on the cake of a fantastic evening.

Sea of Dreams offers exotic, crazy-sexy NYE in SF

Sea-of-Dreams5By Mike Frash //

Sea of Dreams //
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco
December 31st, 2012 //

Sea of Dreams NYE 2013, coined “Lunasea,” offered four stages of live and electronic music, interesting chill-out areas in a tea room and burlesque room, and the best group of revelers you can find in San Francisco on New Years.

The scene that’s created at the SF Concourse Exhibition Center at the end of every year jolts you out of the routines and rigors of life, and enables you to take a journey if you choose, if just for one night. The people that made their way to “Lunasea” seemed to be a mix of Burners and High Sierra Music Festival goers – meaning that most everyone was kind and in a sharing mood.


Gogol Bordello – Lunasea Stage: East Hall


The crazy-sexy music choices at Sea of Dreams are another reason why many people choose this event for New Years. This year, gypsy-punk troupe Gogol Bordello stormed the main stage for the NYE countdown show.

Gogol Bordello’s stage presence, energy and WTF awesomeness is probably only matched by Die Antwoord, but Gogol Bordello brings the crazy with five people taking the spotlight at points. Eugene Hütz is the lead presence, and he doesn’t disappoint.





Shpongle’s Quixotic Masquerade – Lunasea Stage: East Hall


Shpongle premiered his “Quixotic Masquerade” at Lunasea 2013. The electronic music pioneer joined forces with performance art troupe Quixotic to create a show that was sexy and exotic. The first half hour featured only the art troupe Quixotic, then at 1:10am Shpongle appeared from behind his multi-colored DJ platform

Shpongle’s sound is decidedly rooted in traditional & world music sounds, and a live violinist accompanied the digital music for the show. The experience was sexy, weird, and exotic – perfect for Sea of Dreams.





Trentemoller - Galaxsea Stage: West Hall 12:05am

Trentemoller – Galaxsea Stage: West Hall

Glitch Mob - Galaxsea Stage: West Hall 1:30am

Glitch Mob – Galaxsea Stage: West Hall

Pumpkin  - Galaxsea Stage: West Hall 1am

Pumpkin – Galaxsea Stage: West Hall

Realistic Orchestra - Galaxsea Stage: West Hall 9pm

Realistic Orchestra – Galaxsea Stage: West Hall

The Scene at the Basscraft Stage

The Scene at the Basscraft Stage

The Scene at the Lobby Stage

The Scene at the Lobby Stage