How does one begin to describe “The Second Coming”?
EDM veteran Wolfgang Gartner has been associated with this colloquial moniker for several years now – first solidifying the onerous title back in 2010 with his “Illmerica” coming out at Electric Daisy Carnival’s final days in Los Angeles. The prodigal electro-house producer first began simply as Joey Youngman from San Luis Obispo, CA. At age 11, the mixing wunderkind began his dj career by syncing an old school drum machine to his midi keyboard. As the years progressed, Youngman worked his way up from underground deep-house gigs to the Vegas club scene until his explosion onto the electro stage in 2008 when he adopted his current alias.
Saturday night at San Francisco’s The Warfield proved to be a sort of celebration of Gartner’s circuitous yet meteoric rise into the EDM canon. Gartner was accompanied by his proteges Popeska and Pierce Fulton on the final leg of his North America Love and War Tour.
Popeska opened the night by jumping right into a shockingly dark, bass heavy set fit for the Halloween weekend. The 20 year old Atlanta native began with 2 Edit’s “Datsun Tropicalia”, an incredibly sinister track featuring infectious bouncing distorted bass lines that transition into frenetic, almost industrial-jungle rhythms. These thumping rave-ready tracks had the perfect amount of dark Halloween spirited that set the crowd on fire. After cycling through some mandatory, mainstream crowd pleasers (re: a remix of Phoenix’s ’1901′ and Zedd’s ‘Spectrum’), the music savvy teen dropped RL Grime’s “Flood”, thereby pointing towards the sweeping trap movement, and ultimately wound down with some moombahton. Up and coming, Popeska recently released his first EP, Karmameter, on Gartner’s Kindergarten Records label.
Fellow friend and EDM producer, Pierce Fulton, took over next with a set that reflected his wide-ranged background in both electro house and down-tempo electronica. Initially featured on Above & Beyond’s Trance Around the World radio show, Fulton has made a name of himself particularly in the trance scene. He amped up the vibe from Popeska’s steady beats by mixing between dubstep (Kill the Noise – “Deal with It”) to trance (Armin van Buuren – “J’ai nevi de toi”) to German house (Tujami & Plastik Funk – “Who”). His wide-berth of musical influences and impressive childhood aptitude for instruments manifests clearly in his genre-blurring productions. Fulton’s “Mr. Mime” begins as with grinding tech-tones and rapidly spirals into soaring trance.
And then came Wolfgang. With minimal rustling and rearrangement, the black backdrop cloth was ripped away to reveal a glistening 10 foot tall honeycomb LED display. By now, the floor and balcony space had been packed to capacity with college students all eagerly pressing their costume clad, sweating bodies against one another in anticipation of this one moment. There was a momentary vacuum of silence as the displays flickered uncertainly to life. Then in a rush of lights, lasers, and noise, Wolfgang ascended to his throne and the crowd came back from the dead, dissolving The Warfield into a chamber of screaming and jumping bodies.
Easing methodically into his own work, Wolfgang started out with his remix of Miike Snow‘s “Paddling Out”. The signature kick drum and clap beat resonated throughout the entire venue, while the 30 foot stage flanking PA sound system allowed for a surreal bass engulfing experience. The set wove in and out in an almost chronological fashion that tracked his upward climb through EDM. Equipped with a strong arsenal of his own works, Wolfgang spit out track after track of electro-house gold, going from “Redline” to his Skrillex collaboration “The Devil’s Den” as well as more lyrically oriented tracks like “We Own the Night.” Interspersed throughout, were throwbacks to his deep-house roots such as “Hollywood” by Eriq Johnson & New Jack that coupled the bouncy bass with melodic synth overlays. Throughout it all, Wolfgang ensured that each track, whether they were his or not, paid homage to his signature neo-electro/classical tone – characterized by complex arpeggiations and chord progressions executed through electric harpsichord sounding synths – an aspect he owes to his classical piano training and that we can see most literally in his “Wolfgang’s 5th Symphony.”
The night wound up to a devastating banger encore of “Love & War”, after what seemed like an eternity of anguished fans chanting for “one more song.” And with that, Wolfgang raised clasped fists to the crowd, bowed, and vanished into the darkness, leaving his ecstatic, sweaty, yet utterly heartbroken fans wanting more.