Bou made his San Francisco debut, bringing together drum and bass lovers and shining a light on the need for growth in the local community.
Recently igniting a fire across the scene, Manchester-based drum and bass artist Bou has made his arrival known to all. Contrary to what some might believe, though, Bou didn’t just appear out of nowhere. Instead, he’s been just beneath our radar, building up his discography since he started producing at 16. Since then, he’s reached major milestones, including the launch of his Gossip label and headlining the first-ever DnB Allstars Festival.
This year, he released the massive track “Baddadan” with Chase & Status and featuring Flowdan, Trigga, and Takura, which then propelled his career further across the globe. Building off that momentum, Bou made his North American debut this year at Insomniac‘s brand-new festival Apocalypse Zombieland in Southern California. Soon after, he was set to make his Northern California debut in San Francisco with none other than Bassrush at the local venue Public Works, so we jumped at the chance to attend.
Bou awoke something wild within San Francisco’s drum and bass community.
Surprised at the lack of promotion, I was lucky enough to find out about the show a week before its date, so I hurriedly made plans to attend. I was giddy with excitement when I recognized the supporting artists on the bill. The local crew Stamina, known for hosting weekly Sunday drum and bass shows in San Francisco, would be represented by Khariszma and MC Coronel. On direct support, another local legend, Neumonic, would provide the perfect handoff to Bou.
While familiar with Public Works, I was unsure of what to expect from Bassrush hosting a full-on drum and bass show there. The local community, while sometimes perceived as inaccessible, is undeniably devoted to the genre. Combine that with the variety and newcomers that Insomniac crowds often bring, and we were surely in for a bit of a mix. Come time for Khariszma’s opening set, we discovered we were correct in that assumption.
Khariszma commandeered the room effortlessly, blowing my mind away with her crowd control and immaculate track selection. I found myself newly obsessed with her, grateful that I’d made it in time to catch her set and find such a gem of a selector. As her set came to a close, Neumonic joined Khariszma on stage and announced that they’d be going b2b for 45 minutes. The crowd cheered, not having quite enough of Khariszma, and were stoked to get a piece of Neumonic, too. The two, along with MC Coronel, kept the crowd jumping and sweating, warming us up for Bou.
While the music was banging, the crowd was… not quite as appealing.
There were the older heads, the newcomers, and something in between, along with people seeming to wander in looking for a regular club night. As you can guess, this brought with it mixed levels of courtesy, with some people not feeling the music, pushing their way around the crowd, throwing drinks, and, my least favorite of all, having no concept of spatial awareness. As always, we can only hold attendees responsible for their own behavior, but hope that will go differently for the next drum and bass debut in the Bay, as being sandwiched is not how I want to spend any drum and bass set.
Keeping the momentum going, Neumonic turned the room up a notch, bringing an intoxicating energy that we all desperately needed. As expected, the switch-off from Neumonic to Bou was smooth like butter, with B Live hopping up on the speakers right on time to make the room go WILD. I took the opportunity to move to a more spacious area, knowing I would need the dancing space. Worth it does not begin to describe the experience.
Bassrush brought a thirst-quenching lineup of drum and bass, but the Bay Area needs more.
Bou brought with him the spirit of UK drum and bass and unleashed it on attendees, who then eagerly lapped it up. From the energy to the hype to the genuine love of the music, Bou and B Live were a sight to see. I found myself dancing nonstop from start to finish, without room for any self-conscious thoughts. Bou finished the night off with the highly-anticipated “Baddadan” track, and attendees begged for one more song as I ran to get my first drink of water. While I don’t recommend it, just this once, one Red Bull and the spirit of drum and bass powered me through the night. Truth be told, I would do it again.
Bou’s San Francisco debut was an eye-opening experience.
Personally, I am a fan of the local Stamina crew. However, I believe that the local scene could benefit immensely from having some variety, open arms, and more events beyond the long-running but limited Stamina Sundays held at the local F8 venue. As we saw with Bou, the local junglists are hungry for more. There’s a clear need here, and the Stamina crew (among other promoters) have the chance to fill that need. I look forward to the next drum and bass event, hoping to see the Stamina crew work with Bassrush to help the community flourish.