Mele Kalikimaka Nightkids! Although Christmas is two days away at the time of this writing, the trance and real rave vibes that swept Texas these past few months were the best surprises that I could ever receive. For as long as I lived in San Antonio, I have been advocating for more trance and hard dance events in the Alamo City. For a long time, it seemed that my label HakubiVerse was the final beacon in Texas to keep that rave alive and as soon as I decided to take the rest of the year off after San AnTokyo to work on my next projects, there went a volley of trance event invites pounding on my social media notifications. Although San Antonio remains with its void of trance and hard dance music that no one other than HakubiVerse so far was able to fill, I would occasionally make the trips to Houston, Dallas, and Austin to show my support for those pure dance events. After San AnTokyo, I traveled the Lone Star State to see Andy Moor, Darude, Paul van Dyk, and ATB. While I was in the neighborhood in Dallas, Ame and I spent the next night see Banvox and NUU$HI throw bass and some hundreds of weebs faces and I would witness the owner of MOGRA, the legendary D-YAMA, put on an absolute clinic of a set. I had seen two of the best dance vocalists of all time during my autumn rave adventure, JES at the start of my journey, and Natalie from Cascada near the end of this tour; although, I had failed to elaborate that after seeing Paul van Dyk in Houston on November 10th, I snuck up to Dallas on November 11th to Sonic Expo to see Johnny Gioeli of Crush 40 perform live, which was something I wanted pretty much half my life knowing of their existence. Later that November on Black Friday, Ame and I would fulfill another life-long dream with another band as we would make our way to Austin to see Aqua and rejuvinate our love and appreciation for Euro-pop. I had an incredible three months seeing many of my heroes on stage live; however, I would not retreat from my radical audio/visual experience quest until about last Friday, December 15th when I would drop by what I believed was the first and only trance music festival during my time in Texas, Galaxy Station.
Galaxy Station is a pure dance music festival founded by Yana Astakhova and Andrew Winters who had this dream of a massive pure dance celebration. Debating on whether to feature the festival in Europe or other American cities, they took the chance to host it in Houston. I personally found out about the event some time in October and thought it was wild that a trance festival of this magnitude could find success in South Texas in a matter of weeks, but many of us who work in the rave are in the business of wild and Yana, Andrew, and their many collaborators who want to see this incredible event come true really made this wild dream a reality with the power of unity. Working as a harbinger of trance music for South Texas, I would have loved to have been involved in a festival like this whether as a DJ, influencer, or even a stage hand; trance was my first and still my major love in music and any chance I can support trance music to ensure that it thrives in the rave scene, I would do my best for it. I guess my one and only complaint was that the reveal of this show came so suddenly but despite all that, I moved Heaven and Earth to attend Galaxy Station on December 15th and give as much support to trance music as possible. After completing my work for the day in San Antonio, I immediately drove the four hours (normally three yet there was an hour of afternoon gridlock) from my home in San Antonio to Escapade 2001 in Houston to catch what I could of Galaxy Station.
Upon entering Escapade and receiving my VIP bracelet, I was greeted by the Galaxy Angels having their photos taken in front of the stairs by the entrance. That sight gave me the impression that I may have passed away and gone to rave heaven as the layout and architecture of Escapade left room for exploration in finding one’s rave vibe. The venue consisted of the main stage that is observed from the main pit, the side tables, or the top balconies; in addition, there are four other rooms serving as their own stages for local and regional acts with a couple of those stages reserved for VIP attendees. I had made my rounds checking out all the individual rooms first and noticbly catching the different vibes that were around; as well as, the convience of ordering my soda at the VIP stages. There was vocal trance, progressive trance, techno, and psytrance and for all of these rooms, there never seemed like a dull moment. I may have attended this festival alone, but I never felt out of place at what may just be my tribe all along.
Upon my arrival to the main stage, Oliver Smith & Sunny Lax were finishing their face-melting set to a massive audience, then followed by the incredible Ørjan Nilsen. Unfortunately, Super8 & Tab were unable to make it to Houston but that allowed Ørjan Nilsen to put on 2 hours of what may have been the best trance set I have seen live all year. This was my first time ever seeing Ørjan Nilsen live and every song that transitioned throughout the whole set was a heart-pounding trance banger that would ultimately melt my feelings. Following Ørjan Nilsen was John O’Callaghan, a long-time favorite ever since I heard his hit with Sarah Howells, “Find Yourself“. Although Galaxy Station gave the appearance of a trance music festival, I noticed starting with O’Callaghan’s set that more of these DJs were actually playing techno in their sets. In my previous blogs, I had pointed out similar instances where other prominent trance musicians have incorporated techno into their sets and I cannot help but wonder if blending techno with trance is the current trend for trance DJs. Personally, I do not mind techno, but those sounds and rhythms leave me in a different state of mind that trance normally leaves me. I describe it as music that puts me to sleep (in a good way) and then allow me to astral project, like I can still be asleep yet be aware of the festival around me.
For sure tech sounds would later dominate the main stage as Sander van Doorn would replace O’Callaghan and deliver even harder driving techno and tech house. I was there for all of it and although it may not be all trance, I was appreciating the real rave sounds; however, I learned a very valuable lesson during Van Doorn’s set as I was by the rails in position by the very front and I felt my ears getting tired. I was worried that my ears may be taking damage due to prolonged exposure to very loud sounds and as I did not have the foresight to bring hearing protection, I took a defensive position to bring my elbows to up to my ears in order to shield some of the driving bass of Van Doorn’s set without losing my spot at the rail. Take this as a friendly warning to take care of your ears and wear earplugs my fellow nightkids; although I don’t believe my ears were damaged that night, my 22 years raving certainly did not help my hearing situation.
Giuseppe Ottaviani would follow Van Doorn as the penultimate act of Galaxy Station’s main stage and sure enough with a mix of trance, GO would also mix in techno with his trance as well. I had previously seen Giuseppe Ottaviani in 2018 when he made his Texas debut at Lizard Lounge in Dallas and remembered how different that set was considering that night in Dallas was mostly trance and many other trance fiends losing their minds with joy when the chords played. Regardless, I was appreciating seeing GO play live again; however with my phone’s battey close to dying, I would make one more round around Escapade to see the side-stage situations and shenanigans at the festival’s climax, only to finally run into some friends that I knew in San Antonio, as well as others that I got to know on Instagram. The night would finally end with Infected Mushroom as the final main-stage set and the sounds took a major shift as expected from these guys as psytrance fired up the synapse of all Trancefamily at the end.
Many music festivals have came and went in Texas and honestly it seems like music festivals have strayed away from the pure rave experience and became a scene of forced corporate influence, clout chasing, and cultural appropriation done by the same people that would bully us for raving in the first place. Galaxy Station was absolutely not that type of festival and I am so glad I went. Despite noticing the event only two months ago, expecting all trance but getting a big helping of techno, and only being able to attend the last 6 hours of the show, Galaxy Station was the best music festival I ever attended. At first there were many strangers when I arrived but before I would find some friends that I recognized, I easily made some awesome friends and noticed many more with wonderful rave vibes. As far as I saw, there were no drugs, no drama; only PLUR and good music. I absolutely hope that Galaxy Station happens again and rest assured I will do more to support the next festival and trance music in hopes of keeping the real rave alive and thriving. Unfortunately I was not able to stay in Houston long enough to enjoy the official Anjuna Afterparty at RISE Rooftop (the final RISE show before becoming Warehouse Live Midtown), but I’m hoping to be there for all of it next time.
With that all being said, I will be taking the rest of 2023 off and for a change, spending time with my family during the Christmas and New Year holidays, resting up for an even more massive 2024. As I wish for a more thriving rave scene and hope to see Galaxy Station persist, HakubiVerse has made their first announcement for 2024 where all your rave wishes can come true. We are teaming up with Kawacon to bring back Kawadansu, Kawacon’s official AnimEDM rave, taking place Saturday Night, March 2nd, 2024, this time inside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio. HakubiVerse has much more to announce and we personally know other amazing events along the horizing coming through Texas. I am very hopeful for more real raves to emerge and better believe the HakubiVerse is here for it.