Dallas, Texas was always a city that I envied for as long as I lived in San Antonio. I’ve seen many of the best DJs and performers go through world-class venues performing for well-natured fans, fantastic communities indiscriminately working together to build out-of-this-world scenes and infrastructure, and some of the most delicious restaurants that would leave my wallet lighter and my tummy heavier. What I spent time building in San Antonio, Dallas already had, and it is always a pleasure to visit this incredibly magical city. The events I attended on October 13th and 14th would remind me that the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is Texas’ rave capital. Although I’ve been a long-time San Antonio resident, the DFW metro is locked in my soul as the place to make my pilgrimage for real raves. My wife and partner Ame would join me on this adventure as we wasted no time arriving to our first venue of the weekend, Stereo Live Dallas featuring Darude–Yes! That Darude!
Upon entering Stereo Live, Ame and I were greeted by the groovy and relaxing sounds of deep house, techno, and progressive sounds by DJ DingDong while the crowd quickly fills the nightclub’s main floor in very little time. With the exception of anime conventions, I usually don’t see the main floor fill up upon doors opening, but I knew without a doubt that Dallas was ready to rave and many people came out to celebrate the entire night; however, I did not anticipate how quickly the club would appear to fill to capacity by the time Darude takes the stage as I have not seen this insane love and unity since I saw Natalie from Cascada perform at RISE in Houston earlier this year. The DFW Trancefamily was absolutely united that night and I could not be more amazed, proud, and joyful for such a reality.
The last time I saw Darude personally was when I opened for him in San Antonio at the now late but forever great Maroc Bar in San Antonio back on November 3rd, 2016. It felt that it wasn’t that long ago that I saw him live; however, I realize it has been a while as he started his set much differently than I remember. Previous to Dallas, Ame and I have seen Darude 3 other times, twice in San Antonio and once in Austin for the first time (do I have a doozy of a story for that one but perhaps that’s a vlog for a later time–hold me to it please). Darude was my chief figure for Trance and Big EDM sounds growing up from my first experience hearing him with “Feel The Beat” and the song that made me fall in love with his later discography “Warrior“. This time, Darude continued the techno-groove vibes with bit of Tech House, which gave me goosebumps, especially when he played John Summit’s remix of Escape by Kx5 (Kaskade & Deadmau5). Ame and I were right up front on the rail and everyone was absolutely going wild dancing to the tech sounds and singing to the sweet words of Hayla coming through the big sound systems. Another moment worthy to mention is that Ame seemed like she was having the absolute time of her life; a handful of EDM events we’ve gone together rarely invoked any excitement and sometimes going to these ‘mid’ events through some sort of compulsion in our business would actually become more troublesome than it would be fun. Darude in Stereo Live is absolutely not that case as just like I felt when I saw JES and Andy Moor in Houston, Ame and I enjoyed seeing Darude in Dallas, not as the industry professionals we’ve become, but as the genuine fans we always were growing up. Darude would later play a brand-new track called “Closer Together” and a number of unidentified IDs that we would later learn is new music from his upcoming album “Together” that is planned for release on November 3rd. Darude would later turn up the heat and bring us the big sounds of Trance to tickle my musical receptors and absolutely deliver with a variation of everyone’s favorite meme, “Sandstorm”. We finished the night briefly catching up with Darude and getting more information about his new album before we spent the last minutes of the event meeting and greeting with other fans. Our ride came to take us back to our hotel, going in and out of sleep at various points until the afternoon to embark on our next adventure in Dallas, Club Kaiju’s Otaku Overload rave featuring Banvox, D-YAMA, and NUU$HI.
Our Saturday was thought to turn out short where besides breakfast and an attempt to observe the eclipse (which was uneventful from Irving), Ame and I slept most of the day as we recovered from the previous night seeing Darude. As fast as it became showtime, all we had left for the day was dinner and the show. Ame made the call for us to check out Japan House, an ‘All You Can Eat’ Japanese restaurant in Irving. It served as a nice pregame for us as we were presented with many incredible options such as eel sushi, chicken hibachi entree, and takoyaki. I will mention that their karage (fried chicken) is very delicious, that it triggered wonderful memories of having dark-meat Chicken McNuggets from McDonalds as a kid.
Moving on, we headed out to the Green Elephant as we are greeted by Club Kaiju and Fake Star personnel as we redeem our VIP status. After catching up with friends and fellow associates from previous engagements, we took the time to make many new friends and hear their experiences in anime raves and cosplays from around the world. I was enlightned by so many perspectives from fans that have partied from events similar to Otaku Overload and even a few that experienced the legendary MOGRA venue live in Tokyo. These wonderful interactions really showcase the unity and pride of the anime and rave community in Dallas both independently and mutually that it furthers my belief in the incredible rave culture found in the DFW metro. I did manage to personally greet D-YAMA and Banvox briefly before the official start of the show with a simple 「よろしくお願いします。」/ “Nice to meet you.” with anxious excitement where I would love to ask thousands of questions to these amazing caliber of musicians but only could utter a greeting. Admittingly, I still find myself in awe of amazing legends regardless if I’ve met them for the first time or our relationship is at a level where we would gossip at my house. I have massive respect for these DJs that played last Saturday and I am sure my questions would be answered through their sets as the first opener kicked off Otaku Overload.
Otaku Overload can be considered to be Club Kaiju’s flagship rave, similar how HakubiVerse (formerly Hard Dance Texas) hosts their annual AnimEDM massive San AnTokyo, akin to an event like Stanley Cup finals in the National Hockey League or Wrestle Kingdom in New Japan Pro Wrestling. The music starts out with the unannounced Kawaii Club playing an array of…well…kawaii-club sounds. Despite the dark set, which by no means was the stage dark, the outdoor main stage quickly filled to capacity and positively reacted to Kawaii Club’s music, so much it looked like fans were losing their collective minds. I would not expect anything less from Kawaii Club after seeing him perform at previous HakubiVerse virtual shows and performing alongside him at conventions, but it is still incredible to see his performance engagements like it was the first time every time. D-YAMA from MOGRA would later engage his set with incredible humility; however, his set became the most memorable of the night because out my 22 years of being a raver and 17 years being a DJ, I had never seen a set and mixing style as wild as the mixing clinic that D-YAMA showcased. Personally, I am not as much a fan of bass music like Riddim or Trap as I am with uplifting rave sounds like Trance, House, and Happy Hardcore, but any and all bass sounds that D-YAMA unleashed that night mixed very well with his anisongs of various styles. Ame has come to the defense of some bass sounds and eventually I would build an acquired taste enough to appreciate bass music as a good A&R producer should, but I knew I stared raw talent in the face when I would see a genius like D-YAMA make any genre sound good through his mixing style and anisong application. I probably would have witnessed a similar event first hand back in August when I was booked to open for Weird Waifu, yet I would be sidelined that night with a COVID-19 infection and would miss out on that event. Trance and Hard Dance will always be the highest tiers of raves in my heart, but D-YAMA’s set really had me appreciate much more about EDM and DJing despite my near 2-decade experience. I will be sure the next time I’m in the Akihabara neighborhood that I will drop by and personally give him his flowers. Following D-YAMA was NUU$HI, who brought in many more wubs. Upon NUU$HI taking over the decks, I realized this was indeed going to be a bass-heavy show in contrast to the epic Trance event that took place at Stereo Live the night before. As I came down from my fandom high and absorb the sounds of robotic lovemaking, I went back to chitchatting with the attendees around the Green Elephant, primarily cosplayers as I took notice that the cosplay contest would soon start. I have not witnessed a cosplay showcase for a long time and I used to catch every contest I could get to whenever I toured conventions in the late 2000s. I felt a different energy with this showcase as instead of fierce competition and serious business, all the cosplayers had this “beach party during Spring Break in Cancun” energy, that nothing mattered other than good debaucherous fun. Other than D-YAMA’s set, I was pretty calm for most of the night, but then again, this was my second party in a row and already running on borrowed energy from the hype around me. Banvox would later take the stage to bring his “bootyful” bass sounds that somehow kept me alive that night because the raver in my heart compelled me to see through the show from beginning to end. Banvox’s style of bass put me in that mood from when I was in Japan and everyone would lose their minds to the music no matter what is played. Since back at R Lounge in 2018, one DJ would play Hardstyle and the next DJ would play Big Room EDM and the energy would stay up without feeling the contrast of styles. Ghost Data would finally close out the night and at that time I could hear the ingenuity of his music through the electro-melodic sounds. The finale of that night was if both vibes from Darude and the earlier Otaku Overload lineup had combined; Ghost Data appeared to have a lot of fun bringing that vibe. Last but not least, I have to shout out to my good friend Pastel Beach, who I finally saw in person for the first time, who worked the visuals in ways I have not seen visual worked before. I knew Pastel Beach from when he played alongside my friends in South Florida on Twitch. As I learned about stage production, I followed and listened to his experiences and advice online. I am very happy to have met up with this talented DJ and visual artist that significantly added to the charm in Otaku Overload.
When it was all said and done, it was time to return to the Hakubi residence in San Antonio; although our return was much longer than usual as we would stop in Temple for Pokemon Go Community Day and then at Kinokuniya in Austin. I have not had a decent night’s sleep over the week until finally publishing this blog. Sure the concept of ‘No Sleep’ is being romanticized, but I think we need to start normalizing good sleep and drinking water again. In any case, I plan to rest for a few weeks but my next event is actually one that I will be performing, Homecoming HardDance 2023 at 800 Live in San Antonio. This Homecoming HardDance is a collaboration with Zutto Entertainment as they will be featuring ItsLumi to headline the night while I represent HakubiVerse taking on direct support duties playing my own Hard Dance music and after-hours with some weird sounds. Then I will be heading back to Houston to see Paul van Dyk once again after seeing him live almost 9 years ago, this time back at Stereo Live Houston. As I’ve said, get some sleep, drink some water, and dance to some trance as I will see you at the next rave. Bless!