RAVE ‘TIL LAWN: Fred again.., Skrillex, Anderson .Paak, 25K Fans Feel The “Rumble” In Downtown SF [B.Getz on L4LM]

All Photos - Kyle Hotchkiss


originally published on Live For Live Music

In an unfathomable scene of sorts, Saturday night saw electronic music titans Fred again.. and Skrillex team up with the city of San Francisco to throw what they called a “huge rave” in the middle of downtown. Across the road from famed Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and in the shadows of City Hall, these two mavericks hatched and executed a master plan to turn the once-zombified Civic Center Plaza into a delightfully-debauched dance party. And to think, it all started just over a week prior with a simple social media post

Despite some initial concerns about the event—the first large-scale concert hosted in this location in several years, the soiree seemed to go off rather swimmingly. The performance itself rose above and beyond the show’s massive scale.

Usually, when you go see a DJ, or even a b2b, you get one genre, one era. On Saturday, Fred again.. and Skrillex went no-rules, kitchen-sink, defying the conventions of big-room EDM with a set that traversed countless subgenres—smash hits, cutty white labels, sizzling versions in progress, edits on-the-fly, screwface rap remixes, diabolical dubstep womp, Richter-scale housequakes, tearjerker pop jams, and stealthy old-school gems, all together a gluttonous gumbo.

As if that weren’t enough, about halfway through their blissful, 200ish-minute b2b, the dynamic duo was joined by surprise guest Anderson .Paak on brand-new Fred again dnb collab “places to be”, a feel-good roller officially released to DSPs the day before the show.

By the time the clock struck ten bells and the soundsystem was abruptly cutoff mid-song, Fred again and Skrillex had thrown down yet another genre-smashing, marathon set for the ages—and even with all the euphoria in the crowd, it was plain to see that those boys had more fun than anyone else.

Like so many developments these days, this whole she-bang can be traced back to a social media post: “Fred and I have way too much new music we need to test out,” Skrillex wrote on X, “so we’re going to throw a rave in San Francisco next week BRB”.

On May 27th, Fred again poured kerosene on the situation, sharing a photograph of himself wearing a cheeky cheshire grin and pointing to a tee shirt bearing his logo alongside that of Skrillex, plus a date and location. Not long after that, Fred officially let the cat out of the bag. In a matter of minutes, the interwebs were ablaze with anticipation, and within 24-hours, all twenty-five-thousand tickets for this party in the park had been sold.

Though I was not initially one of the lucky fans to score a ticket at the on-sale, something inside me screamed that I just had to be present for this unprecedented center city circus. San Francisco’s spirit has suffered mightily over the years, it has not been extinguished. The existence of this show, set in an area known better for drugs and crime than drum and bass in recent years, was a testament to that fact. I mentally committed to making it happen, and through an fortuitous series of events—too long and complicated to detail here—I found myself inside the gates.

Rave reviews: SF basking in the afterglow of Skrillex, Fred Again.. show – Local News Segment
[Video: KTVU FOX 2 San Francisco]

This pair of yin-yang co-conspirators, fresh off their instant classic pop-up in Mexico City last month, just might be the biggest deal in mainstream EDM today. While Skrillex (the 9-time Grammy-winning, perennial festival headliner, and reformed bro-step pioneer) and Fred again.., (the white-hot, youthfully-exuberant Brit) positioned Saturday’s concert as a last-minute affair with “fly by the seat of your JNCOs” vibes, official government records show that planning for the event can be traced at least as far back as February.

This show, produced in partnership with local corporate concert overlords Another Planet Entertainment, is just one step of several in a new downtown revitalization plan headed up by Mayor London Breed, who was spied on Saturday enjoying the festivities from her City Hall balcony—arguably the best seat in the house.

Both Fred again and Skrillex dug pretty deep into their respective quivers, yet did not ignore the hits, from Fred’s Swedish House Mafia/Future collab “Turn On the Lights Again” to “Baby Again” (Fred again & Skrillex & Four Tet ft. Lil Baby). Two versions of 2023’s colossal bass “Rumble” (Fred again.. & Skrillex & Four Tet feat. FLOWDAN) were played about an hour apart, the latter packing a particularly tectonic punch. Same for “Badders”, another FLOWDAN joint that set the spot ablaze with low-end pyrotechnics and patois grime-growl.

Occasionally Skrillex got cute, whether it was reflecting on his days attending grade school in San Francisco (at West Porter) and walking to the BART station through this very plaza, or when he sampled a local TV news report on the rave into one of his tunes (to the delight of the enormous audience). Often frozen in a perpetual state of shock and awesome, Fred again.. also grabbed the mic between tunes every so often, to exude his trademark childlike enthusiasm with no f—s nor filter.

Halfway through the show, Anderson .Paak appeared out of thin air, hopping atop the DJ decks to spit rhymes on “places to be” and take in the insanity as he flashed his million-dollar smile into the night. Kendrick Lamar’s voice was also well represented throughout the evening via remixes of “Money Trees”, “Vent”, and (a particularly thundering) “Humble”. D12’s druggy “Purple Pills” was a sweet surprise, same for Frank Ocean “Lost” (Pacoussa Remix).

As we neared the end of this pre-summer madness, the sun had set, and the lasers were out in full force. Skrillex uncorked Damian Jr. Gong Marley’s timeless “Welcome to Jamrock”, which he mixed into their collaboration “Make it Bun Den”, chasing that combo with some embryonic dubstep from pioneers Coki & Benga (“Night”), a heart-filling nod to a pair of producers who helped build the foundation upon which Skrillex (and Fred again..) now thrive.



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In the tailwind of this rager, everybody wandering out of the plaza seemed to be on Cloud 9. I heard several people exclaim something to the effect of “SF is back, baby!” as the crowd dispersed. In retrospect, it was kind of wild to be a 46-year old man mixin’ it up with the kiddos on the Bill Graham lawn, but I’m grateful to have participated in this historic party— without question an “all-timer.”

words: B.Getz

Find the 59-track setlist from Saturday’s San Francisco Skrillex/Fred again.. show here.

View photos from the night via Kyle Hotchkiss below.