Since my move to SoCal, I’ve spent the last two New Years Eves in Los Angeles. But I decided I needed to return back to my electronic music roots by ringing in the new year in The Bay Area with a ... Fresh Start. Yeah, yeah, sue me. I had to sneak in that dad joke.
Things have changed since my move; the corner of Illinois and Marin used to be the home of Breakfast of Champions before The Midway decided to host their own NYE celebration. Though there were still sprinkles of flamboyant colored wigs and leopard fur coats, FS replaced the Burning Man vibes with a more tech-housey-festival kinda feel. But the music was still lit, of course.
Across three days and four stages, I feasted on a smorgasbord of house and progressive. There was Duke Dumont at Main Squeez (main stage), Boys Noize shaking the metal beams at the RiOT stage, DJ Dan reminding us why he’s still a beast at Gods & Monsters, and Justin Martin closing out the weekend at Heavy Petting Zoo.
By Sunday, everyone was pretty hungover, which was great because Anjunadeep was there to ease our pain with their mainstage takeover. Not going to lie, it got cold as heck when the sun went down, but everyone who stuck it through huddled up and danced to stay warm because Eli & Fur, Lane 8, and Yotto were worth all the chills.
Especially Yotto. This was my first time seeing the Finnish DJ, but holy heck! He blew me away. His set was the perfect blend of grooving percussion and layers upon layers of melodies for a hangover Sunday.
One thing I loved about FS was seeing all my favorite SF DJs. SOKYO opened up the second-day HPZ car the second day, B33SON played at set on the HPZ car, Sokyo opened up the second day at HPZ. Blurr played at the Gods stage. A surprise of the weekend was seeing Niko Zografos debut his prog alias NZ with a B2B set with Pathfynder.
“It was fun playing a B2B set with my friend Pathfynder who played before me in my first NZ set at Audio SF a few months ago,” Zografos said. “This style has been fun to explore and showcase a deeper style of music that I love. Fresh start was such an amazing event.”
Aside from the music, the festival had a lot of amenities for those who lived life pinkies up. VIP attendees had private bars and free food from Chef Luis Lagos, who served smoked brisket and oysters, or fresh rolls from Angel Sushi. My pick for food, though, would be Los Kuyas, and I had no shame stuffing my face with their sisig burrito.
The only thing I found troublesome was the layout of the event. On Saturday, the main stage got too packed, so the path to the HPZ stage or the game room to play air hockey was a fight upstream. Also, having the bottle service cabanas along the side of the T intersection where the paths to the two stages did not make things easier.
All in all, I had a good time. Fresh Start was a cool party to kick off the new year; I got to see DJs I probably would never have thought to check out at other massives, and I got to see DJs I left behind when I moved. Besides hearing like five Pryda tracks on Sunday, the best part was probably seeing old faces from my kandi-kid-warehouse-party-Kellys-Mission-Rock days. You know, seeing everyone again at a new festival on the first weekend of the new year did make it feel like a fresh start to a . . . I’m sorry, I had to do it one more time before finishing this review.