“What are you doing for New Year’s Eve”
“Oh, going to this concert.”
“Sick, who’s playing?”
Heads and ticket-holders for Coalesce with Cosmic Synergy, taking place December 29, 30, 31 at the Craneway Pavilion on the San Francisco Bay, were suspended in this state of blissful ignorance until last week when the festival’s anticipated lineup finally dropped. Coalesce covertly introduced itself to the electronic music community months ago by hand-distributing sleek and clever marketing material at opportune moments. This led to now-confirmed rumors that Tipper would be ringing in the new year on the Bay. The rest of the talent was a mystery, kept tightly under wraps. There was hardly a peep from the Coalesce camp since.
More than any big name, though, it was the big mystery that generated interest for this event. The mystery of what may be, of course, can always exceed in size and scope that reality of what is. Well, except, perhaps, in the case of Coalesce. This lineup is absolutely bonkers, and it’s fair to say it exceeded all except the most gluttonous expectations.
Those who made travel plans without the assurance of an announced lineup have been duly rewarded. That’s just the sort of audience buy-in that Cosmic Synergy has encouraged with this event. Now that the lineup is circulating throughout digital and interpersonal networks, one would be wise to secure entry while he/she/they still can. “Buy the ticket, take the ride,” Cosmic Synergy writes in the description of their event, quoting the late psychedelic journeyman and journalist Hunter S. Thompson. These words don’t (just) represent a subtle nudge towards the event’s financial solvency. They gesture towards a spirit of faith that, when combined with action, generates the energy on which DIY shows and communities thrive.
The Bay Area has always been a hotbed of rave culture, and the spirits of psychedelia and experimentation - both musical and social - have always defined the Bay’s multifaceted music scenes long before what we know as electronic music took to the airwaves. Some say the Bay really began to rave when acid house washed ashore beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in the early 1990’s. This publication’s readers are likely more familiar with the broken beat electronic music that circulated in the early ‘00s from DJ/Producers like Bassnectar, Mimosa, or Rodman “Lux” Williams,
Today, pillar organizations within psychedelic bass music like Street Ritual and Wormhole Music Group have made the Bay Area their home (both are helping to produce Coalesce). Combined with its rich history, this has cast the region as the de-facto bass music capital in the States, although Denver continues to edge for that pole position. Regardless, on the last three days of 2018, the Bay Area will be ground zero next level broken beat electronica. Indeed, Coalesce has the potential to rank with any historic Bay Area rave and become a seminal moment of sorts for a new generation of electronic fans and musicians.
The event will feature a single stage, helping attendees and artists channel all their energies into one musical vibe. The volume and caliber of rare and special sets on this lineup is unmatched. Two Fingers, a side project of Amon Tobin which offered early innovations on the grittier elements of dancehall, dubstep, and grime, will perform for the first time since 2013. Liquid Stranger will offer his only downtempo set of 2018. Fresh from the VISA office and his play at the Kings Theater in Brooklyn, Australia’s Spoonbill will deliver a West Coast play for adoring fans. There’s also a mysterious Slug Wife takeover with two of its three artists yet to be announced (Seppa?) This hardly touches the deep and intentional undercard which is stacked from top to bottom with the cream of the contemporary bass music crop from Shwex to Frequent to Sixis.
The lineup of visual artists at Coalesce may be even more impressive and rare than the grouping of musicians. Led by the first couple of visionary art, Alex & Allyson Grey, exceedingly talented collectives and individual painters will work on murals throughout the three day event, including Phaneros Art featuring the work of Jonathan Solter, sydwox and E Howard, and the Denver-based Apex Collective highlighted by the work of Stephen Kruse and Jake Amason. Michael & Violet Divine, husband and wife, will also partner on a mural, and Luke Brown aka “Spectraleyes” will also be painting a solo piece. The roster of projection artists features the usual suspects from the Tipper & Friends universe like Datagrama.TV and Fractaled Visions, as well as less familiar names like Andy Thomas, known for his “Visual Sounds of the Amazon” series. Carey Thompson, who has served as the Art Director of global dance mecca Boom Festival for nearly a decade, will be designing a world-class stage.
Cosmic Synergy spared no expense to place this all-star cast of creators in an appropriate setting. As a former Ford assembly plant that processed 60,000 tanks during World War II, the Craneway Pavilion is “as state-of-the-art as it is historic” says Venue Report. Towering floor-to-ceiling windows offer panoramic views of one of the world’s most iconic urban environs - the San Fransisco Bay stretching out towards the Oakland-San Francisco Bridge and The City itself. One can also drink in this view while ambling with their friends and non-biological family around a 20,000 square-foot open air patio in the swirling Bay mist.
Your correspondent is curious about the acoustics in the Pavilion. Bay Area hip-hop festival Feels has been hosted there, so the space is battle-tested to a degree, although that doesn’t speak to it’s capacity for presenting high-fidelity sound. Sure enough, though, Cosmic Synergy is working with world-class acousticians to dial in the Funktion One sound system and create a world-class concert experience. According to the Cosmic Synergy team, they’ve had the room and speaker array acoustically analyzed and modeled to understand the frequency response of the cavernous, glass pavilion. Based on the results, they’ve produced proprietary (read: one-of-a-kind) absorber-diffusers to control the bass and the high-end frequencies. This pre-emptive action on acoustics is usually out-of-sight but rarely out-of-mind for the discerning audiophiles who are sure to show up to Coalesce. Accordingly, Cosmic Synergy is taking the steps necessary to ensure its crowd receives the deluxe sound treatment they’ve come to expect.
Word is that throwing an independently-promoted show in the Bay Area, let alone a bonanza like this, is becoming increasingly challenging. Cosmic Synergy lucked out, then - well, luck likely had little to do with it - by snagging this venue. The real lucky ones, though, are of course the ticket-holders who will coalesce at the edge of the United States and the edge of the known sonic universe to ring in the new year.