I remember the moment like it was yesterday.
I began college in September of 2011, effectively simultaneous to the release of one of my all-time favorite tracks, Eric Prydz’s “2Night.” One evening, I found myself browsing the Beatport charts to avoid the horribly awkward meet-and-greets that my dormitory floor was trying to initiate, and I blundered upon the track mainly due to its peculiar spelling. I was instantly hooked.
I watched my fandom come together like bread and butter once I caught wind of the original EPIC debut at London’s O2 Academy Brixton earlier that year, and learned the news that Identity Festival broke major ground the following year as the first instance the Swede had been successfully booked in North America since 2007. If I hadn’t made the trek up to Mountain View on that summer night in 2012 to see him live for the first time, I would likely not be writing this today.
Fast-forward a few years: By the time 2016 began, I’d seen him live nearly 20 times, pretty much knew every EPIC Radio episode by heart, flown out to New York by myself to experience EPIC 3.0 at Madison Square Garden, and caused all my friends to think I had seriously lost it. Nearly all my favorite tracks throughout those years were unreleased Pryda IDs, and “Don’t ask….” had quickly become a common response when questioned about my music tastes. All of that said, I’m sure you can envision my excitement when EPIC 4.0 was announced—with not just one California stop, but four.
This is my San Francisco story.
I left work on Friday around 10am, complete with frantic texts from my road trip crew, KLee, Dev, and JB. 2007’s “Big Boss” was bumping through my car speakers so obnoxiously that I took the 101 north instead of south and ended up in Panorama City instead of Sherman Oaks. But there were hardly any fucks to be given, because nothing was about to get me down on Prydzmas morning. Fifteen minutes later, we were on our way to the barren realms of the 5 and attempting to figure out which one of Prydz’s mixes we were going to blast first while Dev’s friend Joe (who was merely catching a ride up to the city) tried to comprehend what the hell he had just gotten himself into. Track of the moment? Definitely the frenzied, rich groove of “Trippleton,” a longtime favorite of mine by Prydz’s alias Tonja Holma, to complement the endless stretch of the Central Valley flying by on either side of us.
Four hours and a couple of ratchet-looking gas station stops later, we had made it to Northern California. Speeding through Livermore in post-rain conditions was a total trip—in the words of Prydz’s Instagram, “San Francisco looks like Windows 8”—since the hills glowed a brilliant green color that we L.A. folk could only surely dream of.
In San Francisco’s typical bipolar fashion, dark clouds rolled into the city upon our bayside arrival 45 minutes later, as we crossed the beautifully remodeled Bay Bridge and burst into the gloomy, ominous-looking mass of grey silhouettes that made up Downtown. Ironically, we were playing “Sunburst” at the time, but in retrospect, it seemed strangely fitting.
We didn’t have much time before needing to hustle over to the Armory, but a swift peek at JB’s rooftop patio in the Inner Sunset district was a definite necessity. We collected SlyeDog, the apartment’s resident bi-black Sheltie pup, and headed up to the rooftop to soak in the freezing drizzle before making the final preparations. As my face grew wet with mist while trying to spot the city’s rocky shoreline in the distance, all I could think of was the mysterious reverberations of “Spooks,” from 2005’s PRYDA 002 EP.
The 8pm traffic was just starting to die down as we wove through Lower Haight and the Castro on our way to the venue. Getting stuck behind slow-moving trucks seemed like the end of the world, and the tight feeling in my stomach—a feeling many of us have coined as #Prydanxiety—could have been described only with the erratic genius of 2015’s “Clapham.” We let out a collective sigh of relief as we exited our ride and sprang into the rapidly growing line on Mission St.I was hilariously entertained at the fact that the liquor store around the corner carried Stone’s Vertical Epic Ale, and I insisted on buying two pints (even though the $8 price tag and 9% alcohol content was slightly frightening) because, well, that’s just what you do when you encounter Pryda puns during #Prydzuary. Consequently, after making our way through “Illusions,” “Trubble,” and the Pryda remix of Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down Again,” we were prepared to hit the road.
That night of EPIC 4.0 was catered entirely to me, or it sure as hell seemed like it. The show’s opening portion got the crowd singing (shrieking, really) to the addictively catchy melody of “Som Sas” before Prydz dove straight into an eight-track segment I thought could have existed only in my dreams. From the Terminal 5 ID (my new 4.0 favorite of the month), he transitioned into “Sweet Genesis” and his own private remix of “Every Day,” the song that was essentially all I listened to for a whole month after hearing it live for the first time at his brief LiFE Las Vegas residency in 2014. From there, we were gifted with “Sunburst” (a track I NEVER thought I’d catch live), 2008’s “Evouh,” 2015’s fan favorite “Choo,” the gorgeous Pryda vs. Everything but the Girl mashup of “Missing Europa,” and finally, the Prydz remix of Digitalism’s “Circles.”
The Cirez D segment of the night featured the classics “Glow” and “On/Off,” as well as the absolute smasher of a track he opened last Friday’s L.A. show with, the Palladium ID 01. The black-grey, hi-res mouse hologram rotated slowly above Prydz’s baseball cap for seconds before the cube structure was illuminated with vertical, neon green bars that were soon joined by a flashing dual-head hologram. The cube was then immersed in enormous CIREZ D lettering that spanned its entire length before lasers (2,000 of them, according to Prydz) shot out of each side.
As much as I’d love to hear purely deep and progressive sets, every major Prydz performance has its moments of cheese; still, crowd-pleasers like “Matrix” and “Pjanoo” didn’t even seem as disheartening as they usually did. In typical Prydasnob fashion, we saved our bathroom break for “Opus” before heading out into the streets alongside the hundreds of fans that were pouring out onto the sidewalk through a tiny opening on the Armory’s side. Night one was a wrap, but only after my crew and I—as well as two friendly locals we’d met on the dancefloor—grooved the rest of the night away to Porkchop and Deep Jesus at City Hearts across the street. As we walked through the Sunset back to JB’s place at some ungodly hour of the morning, the deserted streets and eerie silence made me feel like we were the last people left on earth, almost like the supernatural soundscape of 2007’s “Muryani.”
We woke up on Saturday to a beautiful day in the city, almost as if the foggy gloom of the previous afternoon had never existed. After a massive brunch, we once again grabbed Slye and some champagne and tore up to the rooftop to enjoy the rays of sunshine before round two of #Prydalympics began.
Dancing in the sun and cuddling with a fluffy puppy? The grandiose, uplifting melody of Opus’ “Last Dragon” comes to mind.
Day two was special to me for a variety of reasons: It marked the end of Phase I of the EPIC 4.0 tour, and it was the evening that a large online fan group had successfully rented the basement of the Armory Club to host a preshow meet-up. As soon as 6:30 hit, the Pryda/Cirez D/Eric Prydz shirts began flowing into the bar and congregating downstairs. The event lasted more than two hours and was complete with live DJs, plenty of drinks, and over a dozen varieties of customized fan shirts. One member even went as far as bringing his parents along in an effort to show them the incredible community Prydz’s music had created (needless to say, they were blown away by that night’s performance).
Other members flew to the city all the way from Sweden, having designed Mouseville shirts in the color of the Swedish flag to wear that night. Fans compared tattoos, sang wildly to records that our DJ was playing (Prydz tracks, of course), and took countless photos and videos to commemorate the amazing night we had created. It was the largest meet-up the group had ever put together, and likely the most greatest—walking up the stairs and across the street into the venue line, it struck me how lucky I was to have found people that shared my love for this music. As I took a moment to appreciate how Prydz had brought so many people together that night, the mesmerizingly beautiful tune of 2010’s “Vega” flowed through my head, and I was temporarily hit with some serious feels.
If any show could have been on par with Friday’s, it was Saturday’s. We were given an incredible selection of classics, including “Glimma” and “Juletider” from 2012’s Eric Prydz Presents PRYDA, as well as “Rotonda” (a track name I only recently found out was an anagram for “Tornado,” which explained the cyclone holograms—*mind explosion*). Other bombs included “The Truth,” VOLI’s “Loving You,” and a track I had been praying for ever since it became 2015’s EDC New York ID, “Tromb.”
Prydz used VOLI’s “Rebel XX” to pump up the BPM in preparation for the incoming Cirez D segment, which proved even better than the night before. From the hauntingly tribal Paradiso ID, he blasted into the NCG ID (a track that had become the tour’s staple Cirez tune) and straight into the mind-blowing thunder of “Century of the Mouse.” He finished off with none other than 2013’s Exit ID, a longtime favorite of mine ever since hearing it live at 2013’s HARD Day of the Dead, before Prydz allowed the audience to finally catch their breath with crowd-pleaser “Generate.”
As soon as the familiar twangs of “Opus” rang through the dancefloor, I grabbed my crew and started to shuffle them toward the exit. I wasn’t going to allow any cheese if there was techno to be had at Ruby Skye nightclub, where Prydz was booked to play a three-hour Cirez D after-party until 4am. But as we pushed through the bathroom lines and fought our way out to the chilly midnight air, I froze in shock as an all-too-familiar tune hit my ears: It was none other than 2012’s “Shadows,” a massive feel-inducer that we megafans had been dying to hear all weekend but never thought we would live to experience live. Arm in arm, we stood in the back of the Armory and watched a thousand phones rise into the air as the glow of the cubed stage faded into oblivion, and the hypnotic chorus was engulfed in the roaring cheers of the audience. If there had been a more perfect way to end the set, I couldn’t think of it.
It was one of the greatest weekends I’ve ever had, no doubt about it. People think I’m crazy and irrational for the amount of his shows I attended during this tour—seven in two weeks—but what they don’t understand is that every set is worlds different from every other one. Prydz is incredibly unpredictable when he wants to be: He smacked us all in the face with a high-energy Cirez D opening in L.A., while choosing to play an almost entire Pryda classics set the following night. He effortlessly mixed tracks that were produced over a decade apart and constantly threw astounding curveballs into every performance along the way. To have closely followed the progression of this tour was exceptionally rewarding, and I feel closer to the passionate and loving community that his music has created than I ever have in my years of involvement.The Uber ride to Ruby Skye felt like a delusion—was EPIC really over for us? I had gotten so used to attending Prydz shows, analyzing each set and tallying up each track list that the thought of heading back into reality seemed almost incomprehensible. My worries soon vanished, however, as soon as we marched into Ruby Skye and made our way to the upstairs balcony, where at least 20 members from our fan group were initiating a colossal dance circle. While Cirez D’s Lot 613 after-party in L.A. featured no illumination other than a single lamp, Ruby Skye made use of all the lasers they could find as Prydz tore through newer Cirez releases “Drums in the Deep,” “On Top Baby,” 2009’s “Fast Forward,” and at least three tracks by Pryda-spawn Jeremy Olander’s techno alias, Dhillon. It was the ultimate last hurrah I could have hoped for: The Pryda squad danced their hearts out on that balcony for all three hours, and we took in those final moments of the weekend like it was the last night of our lives.
Well, until the megafans make the trek down to San Diego for a two-show Cirez D stint this Saturday, that is. Did you really think I was done?There’s really only one track that can describe my feelings as this piece comes together in my head while I sit in Los Angeles traffic, grudgingly accepting the beginning of a new week.
Header design credit: Matthew Flanders