San Francisco: Rainbow Power

Burning Man 1991

Burning Man 1991, a San Francisco original

Counter-clockwise, it’s 8 and silicon dust coats a window without limits… Feel 4:

Download: Feel 4 – San Francisco: Rainbow Power, at 160 kbps


“At the dawn of the Internet as Silicon Valley pushed into all our lives, the grand central of all this change was grooving to a new beat pulsing from the hard drives and turntables of 1990s info-warriors. Hyperreal and cyberpunk, the Golden Gate city was dreaming hard about the future. ‘The Social Network’ captured this acceleration when contrasting the speed of the nightclub with a slow-mo row on the Thames. But long before Facebook or Google, or even Yahoo, artists and engineers were mixing it up in San Francisco, coding the future by day and dancing by night, throwing outdoor parties and running robot demolition derbies. It’s not all about gizmos. Burning Man started here. Gay rights found its voice here. Acid house reigned here.” 

Before the 21st century, the San Francisco Bay Area was popularly known for a few things: its flower child liberalism, Silicon Valley and its large gay community. Awe and ignorant jokes often underlined any mention of the city by outsiders. But as the area’s focus on the future continued to push the country into new economic vistas, whether by the technological prowess of companies like Apple or Google or the social innovations of its political leaders and universities, the millennial generation has increasingly looked to its optimistic march.

Freaky Chakra

Daum Bentley aka “Freaky Chakra” circa 1995

In the 1990s, the Bay Area was also a vital seedbed for rave culture where DJ crews like Wicked and Funky Tekno Tribe helped spark a second coming, though more underground, of the ’60s psychedelic revolution, this time powered by computers and a different set of chemical enhancers.

When MDMA (“ecstasy”) first bubbled out of psychotherapy circles, it was completely legal, resynthesized by licensed chemist Alexander Shulgin in 1976 at his San Francisco laboratory. The impact of ecstasy may be overestimated, but the supposed “love drug” for better or for worse became synonymous with rave culture in the 1990s, especially in Europe. That role also fueled hysteria in the media and fretting by civil authorities. Whatever the mix, from completely sober ravers to out of control benders, it did imprint the music with a supernatural energy that aimed for the sublime and transcendental.

Out of this scene came an explosion of innovative EDM productions. Local boy wonders Freaky Chakra and Single Cell Orchestra developed a native sound that was at once funky and uplifting. Dubtribe, Hardkiss, Bassbin Twins, E.B.E. and Electroliners helped push the music in new imaginative directions, from plasmic tones to trains barreling through warehouse sound systems. Others like Young American Primitive helped bridge their sonic explorations with the progressive thrust of European DJs like Sasha and John Digweed. San Francisco and the Bay Area can often feel like an island unto itself. But that intellectual isolation continues to provide a home for some of the world’s most forward-looking ideas and artists.


Download: Feel 4 – San Francisco: Rainbow Power, at 160 kbps



Dubtribe’s Moonbeam and Sunshine Jones