Ok, so I like electronic dance music, more specifically Trance. Unfortunately, the US, it's let's just say... a bit behind in that department. If you ever hear such music on the radio, or even in the street, let me know (for instance, in Australia, I heard great Trance in even a waterslide park of all places, and in Europe you can easily get EDM/Trance on broadcast radio).
Since 2004 (it's not 2016), the good news is that Trance has grown quite a following in the US, and places like the SF Bay Area, and while Trance has been declared dead a few times in the last 10 years, it's still going strong here, and we're lucky to have at least one or two big Trance parties per year, so yeah!
With San Francisco and San Jose nearby, I've had some opportunities to see some great EDM/Trance DJs. Back in the early 2000's, they sadly played club music in the US that was nowhere close to the hits they had composed and were known for, but over the years, as Trance started becoming more popular, those DJs finally started playing their good tunes in the US too, and maybe from 2004 on, it's only been getting better.
Over time, I've seen many of my favorite DJs across the world, whether it was locally, in New York City, Canada, Australia, and of course Ibiza, and at Halloween 2004, I finally attended some great local parties that proved that you could get the good stuff locally too (even if all the artists came from other countries .
Over the years, I also got the chance to meet a few of my favourite DJs, including Armin more than once:
I can't believe last time I was at DNA Lounge was in June 2002, some 16 years ago, for the Mozilla (now firefox) browser source code release party (some old bad pictures here.
I even have an old (now embarassing) picture with JWZ, the owner of DNA Lounge from 2001.
In my defense, DNA Lounge doesn't play the kind of music I normally enjoy (although I'm sure I missed some days I'd have liked), but this time was different: psytrance is fun to listen to from time to time, and if you add regular trance with my friends Blurr and Sonic Fuzion, that seals the deal :)
DNA Lounge sure changed a lot since last time I went. I was much amused by the ATM machine JWZ likely hacked:
4 different rooms, including happy hardcore, which I had never heard in a club so far (but used to listen to eons ago), was fun:
in Arduino, Clubbing, Electronics
After I figured that my previous shirt was getting a bit stale, I wanted to design EDM Party Shirt v2, which both had to be easier to wash (the previous one had LED strips all over it that were too much work to remove, making the shirt not really washable), and I also wanted it to be more special.
I had been playing with Adafruit::NeoMatrix and figured it would be cool to have a NeoMatrix on my shirt (also it would be easier to remove a whole panel to wash the shirt).
So, in the great tradition of yak shaving, I first decided that I should be able to use FastLED instead of Adafruit::Neopixel. This was mainly at the time because FastLED allows parallel output and therefore allows updating a screen by segmenting it in smaller pieces that are updated in parallel. With Adafruit::NeoMatrix, my 768 pixel panel would have taken about 30ms to refresh, or only 33 frames per second, which is not a lot. With FastLED, I was able to trivially segment it in 3 and get 10ms/100fps, which is a whole lot better for animations.
Turns out, switching to FastLED also gave me access to LEDMatrix, an alternate library which while lacking Adafruit::GFX primitives, offers another nice API including better text and basic sprite support.
So, I started a port of Adafruit::NeoMatrix to FastLED and wrote FastLED::NeoMatrix. It was actually a non trivial port, which took much longer than I thought, but I got it working in the end:
by then I was already able to display with 3 data lines, one for each 32x8 panel
In the process, I managed to plug the wrong power into the panel and blew a pixel. Thankfully I was able to borrow another pixel from a strip and soldering it in place to fix it:
Once the port was done, came time to get the panels together. Wiring was a bit challenging because I had to ensure that power was injected at a mostly equal value in 9 different points (3 per panel) due to voltage sag at higher amps. I then quickly found out that with 3 data lines at high frequency, there is cross talk between the wires, so I switched to a CAT-5e cable where each data line is twisted with its ground and the remaining 2 wires are used to bring VCC (5V). Technically my 3 panels can use up to 60A at 5V at full power. Obviously many things will melt before that, and I'm using a power converter that tops out at 10A. Even 10A is too much for the wiring, but thankfully my displays don't use that much brightness (it would be blinding to people):
two 5Ah 16V lipos give about 160Wh, just enough to run 2 panels 10 to 12H
the fancy energy meter keeps track of how much time I used and how many Ah came out of the batteries. Useful to know how much time I have left. The blue meter is amps at 5V (after the power converter) and the red one amps at 16V (straight from the battery)
on the right, I have a backup ESP8266 if the main one fails, a backup BEC (5V converter) that's technically 10A capaable but not meant to do more than 5A continous, and bottom right is my older 3A BEC with in line amp meter
the new tobsun 5V converter is bulky but does 10A without issues
For the back of the shirt, I got some fabric and created an inside pocket to hold the panel:
it then mirrors the front
All this crap goes into a fanny pack, and gets wired to my shirt, pants, and glasses:
the cool part is that my back also has a panel inside the shirt that uses the shirt as a diffuser
I can't believe it was already my 4th EDC. Time flies... Thankfully Insomniac moved it one month earlier this year, so it wasn't as damn hot as last year where some people actually died of dehydration, some apparently waiting in lines that were way too long in the hot sun :( I remember one night where it was 95F/35C all night and some stupid high temperature during the day.
This year, I got to beta test my new and improved Neopixel shirt, which is now a dual NeoMatrix shirt. Sadly, one of the 2 panels shorted by day #2 (build issue which I was only able to fix after getting home), so I was running in degraded mode with only the front panel for the last 2 days. Still, people loved the shirt :)
like pokemon, you gotta collect them all :)
met some fellow Trance Family SF on day #3
If you'd like see the different animations from the shirt, you can find them here:
I was able to try a very cool VR drumming game. It was very well done:
Now, I was not the only person to be shiny, which is one of the reasons I love EDC and Burning Man:
While I didn't find anyone who was able to put that many neopixels in their shirt (to be fair mine require non trivial amounts of power for something wearable). A few people had cool displays on poles with a big lead acid battery:
this one the only neopixel based one I found
an interesting hat
cool head gear
multiple pole based ones
the 2nd fanciest ones I found were these, but based on a thick panel that requires constant refresh (also too thick to wear)
the pitch is much better though, allowing for better writing than I can do on mine
sadly the refresh rate is too poor for pictures
the fanciest pole was this one, with remotely addressable neomatrix text scrolling display
Good job Afik
Other signs and people:
not the first time I saw this one, but still hilarious
Now, you don't have to be an engineer to be shiny (although it does help :) ). Plenty of stuff you can buy (just not my shirt, sorry ;) ):
just go to the aptly named 'shiny things' store
and if you're into drum and bass, they have you covered too ;)
Anyway, let's look at EDC as a whole this year. Maybe I got lucky with my shuttle stop didn't have a wait that wasn't as terrible as last year. The ride was still closer to 90mn, later in the evening, which sucked somewhat (still about 2h30 from hotel to festival)
hilarious. Yes, we were ready... for the great event :)
The VIP area had a swimming pool (no good with my electronics), a ball pool, and video games:
oh yeah, even a maze
Some decors were straight out of burning man:
first saw this at burning man years ago, super fun, especially if you're on something
you could use diffraction glasses if you were sober
Let's not forget art cars, all of which I've seen at burning man:
They had even more fair attractions this year:
Let's not forget about bad ass fireworks every day:
Now, the music sets I saw on Day #1:
Drum and Bass was fun to listen to for a while,
they had awesome visuals
I'm a big pendulum fan
stargate visuals, well done
Of course, Trance, trance, and more trance :)
fancy control console
ok, using the 'help' output of the DOS box on windows, was a bit lazy :)
Day #1 Summary:
Now, we can move to Day #2:
Circuit Grounds had Hardwell and Armin Van Buuren that night:
Drum and Bass DJs definitely like to stand on their DJ table :)
Let's finish with a sunrise:
Day #3 Summary:
I won't go into how hard it is to timeshift 12H overnight (I got up at 06:00 the previous day to go to a racetrack and went to bed at 07:00 the next night. That was tough.
Insomniac did a great job with the lineups, definitely more trance now compared to the first year I went. I was not a huge fan of the way quantum valley looked, it sure was hard to get good pictures through all those metal stands. I'm also under the impression that at least on the first day, they cranked the bass way up, maybe in a misguided attempt to compete with drum and bass across, to the point that you couldn't really hear much of the music anymore. Thankfully it was a lot better by day #3.
The shuttles worked a bit better this year, although the premium shuttles were kind of a joke. You were supposed to tell them months early what time you were going to go and come home, and have that be the same every day, not that you had lineups with times anyway. I ended up taking the standard shuttle most days, which sadly got moved farther away from my hotel I had already booked. I don't understand why they simply don't have VIP lines for the standard shuttles and be done with it. Having 2 different shuttle systems with different locations and less flexibility on the premium ones, makes no sense at all.
Thanks to Insomniac for the event and lineups. Also, thumbs up to anyone who came with costumes and tasteful totem poles (sadly, there are some really crappy ones too, which sometimes end up being right in the front stage, ruining all the pictures I was trying to take).
It's already been a year since the great TFSF 7 party last year, I was definitely looking forward to this new one in an even bigger venue.
I got to try my new shirt, I had spent weeks working on:
found a friend :)
The outdoor patio was nice, and the psytrance wasn't bad either :)
Khromata did a nice set, quite enjoyable
Other inside pictures:
The main room sadly was way too loud most of the time, even with earplugs, kind of a bummer. At times, it was also way too smoky. At times, it was not possible to take any decent pictures when it was barely possible to see the stage due to smoke. On the flipside, that allowed me to spend more time in the Trance Classics room, which worked out totally fine :)
did I say too smoky?
I spent most of my time in the Trance Classics room. It was smaller, but it was definitely the best music for me :)
David did great work with the video visuals
then, my friend DJ Blurr took over
Taj was last, spinning vinyl
I definitely had a great night. The venue was nice, the decors were also good, and the choices of DJs and music were great. Thank you!
Quick sample/summary video:
And DJ Blurr's entire set:
Oh, and if you're curious, an early demo of my new shirt prototype, which I got to try for the first time that night (still work in progress):
Like I was saying in my previous post, I've been a fan of Jean Michel Jarre since the 1980's when I was a teenager. Along with Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre is one of the founders of Electronic Music. The two of them were popular before anyone else was even around doing any EDM.
Well, after never having managed to see JMJ live in all these years I was listening to his music in France, I now get to see him twice in less than a year. His last show was less than a year ago at the Berkeley Greek Theatre. It feels so weird to see him twice in such a short time when I had never seen him in the last 30 years before that.
A few pictures:
It had been a while since I had seen Above in Beyond in San Francisco doing club music (did see them last year for their Accoustic II tour which was great, but different for sure).
Sadly, despite the huge venue and amount of people, they only played 2H (compared to Armin or Tiesto who would do much longer sets in a specially rented venue like this), but still those 2 hours were really good, so there's that :)
[izu:Crystal Method at Great Northern for Opel 16th anniversary]
Opel had an anniversary celebration at great northern with Crystal Method, pioneers in electronic music, as well as my friend DJ Blur playing in another room, so it was a good reason to go.
Syd Gris from Opulent Temple, opening up the main room
Finally, it was time for DJ Blur in the top room (which was hot as balls like he said, it needs more AC):
While the main room finally got Crystal Method. He played some last classics, including some from the late 90's. However, he seemed to be high on something, but I wasn't able to say what :)
A really cool thing was the silent room outside, where you could listen to the DJ with headphones