Emancipator | Great American Music Hall | 4/13/19

Article Contributed by Nick Gumas | Published on Sunday, April 21, 2019

Classically trained DJ and Producer Douglas Appling, better known as Emancipator played a cleansing set to a sold-out house at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall that was nothing short of hypnotizing. His music, if not genuinely describable as trance, was certainly trance-esque, and highlighted electronic music’s evolution and maturity in recent years. Breaking away from stereotypes of raves, the set showcased Electronic music’s validity in the modern era.

The openers, who’s sets totaled almost three hours in length, were all artists with lengthy histories of collaborating with the headliner, including violinist and producer Lapa, perhaps best known for performing alongside Appling during most every Emancipator performance. The familiarity among artists generated a continuity to the feelings invoked during the performances throughout the night.

Lapa | San Francisco, CA

As the lights dimmed and the evening began, 9Theory, the evening’s first opener came to the stage and began his set by saying “Every show on this tour has been super fun and super dope… This show is going to be too.” These words to nobody’s surprise proved to be true

The music of the evening had a calming yet focusing effect. Every musician’s sets could have easily been recorded and slipped into any playlist titled “electronic music to study to” and no one would ever be the wiser. The momentum of the night flowed smoothly, with no intermissions amongst the openers and only a 15-minute break in between the last opener and the headlining set.

Emancipator | GAMH

Just as the clocks struck midnight, the headlining duo took their place center stage. Emancipator performed mostly under a dark blue and purple hue, which symbolically complimented the sensations sounds of the violin aptly. Shining over the slowly dancing audience as well, the blue light provoked imagery of an ocean when looked down on from the balcony, which coupled with the pensive music showcased how well rounded the production values that went into this show were.

Throughout the night, there was an amazing aura throughout the house, unlike a typical concert. Even the staff at times caught wind of the infectious good nature. At multiple times throughout the set, members of the audience jumped up onto the stage and started dancing, but instead of forcibly removing them from the stage or venue, the security merely walked over and motioned for them to hop back down to their spot at the foot of the stage.

Lapa with Emancipator | San Francisco, CA

Experiencing Emancipator live was like listening to an entire orchestrated movie soundtrack, it built consistently throughout the night, and once their message was delivered, the duo said a quick thank you, closed their laptops, took a bow, and exited the stage as nonchalantly as they had entered. No encore, no embellishment, nothing the artists felt unnecessary. As the house lights came up, the audience stayed and applauded for several minutes before leaving the theatre.