“You got an extra ticket?” These words were played on a constant loop as hordes of eccentric 20-year-olds bopped past the desperate, ticketless fans in semicontrolled chaos toward the security line outside of San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. “I’ve had these tickets for 5 months,” said a khaki-clad youth. The sold-out Rufus Du Sol show drew masses of people, and Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was well-equipped to house them all.
Despite the large venue extending up to a second floor, well over half those in attendance were in general admission, which made sense — it wasn’t a show to sit still for. And as the night drew closer to the headliner’s set, it felt as though there wasn’t an unoccupied corner of the venue.
The mood was set by openers Lane 8 and Cassian — the EDM style, thrumming bass and synth-dominated drops moved through the crowd like a tidal wave. These sounds boomed through the speakers, each song providing equal opportunity for raised arms and spilled drinks. All around the venue, there was a chorus of shouted pleasantries as groups converged on the general admission dance floor. The venue felt more like a large club than a concert.
And as the openers simmered to the background, Rufus Du Sol came on to deafening cheers as the auditorium plunged into darkness. The electronic trio stood on raised platforms while an impressive and almost blinding, light show announced their arrival — it was surprising this show didn’t come with a warning for epilepsy triggers. The group made sure there wasn’t a bad seat in the house, despite the relatively large venue. The ethereal, otherworldly melodies paired seamlessly with the eager crowd. In the grand catalog of EDM, one group often indistinguishable from the next, Rufus brought individuality to its love of performance, and this brought their discography to life.
Rufus stopped in San Francisco as a part of its “Solace” world tour making a point to acknowledge that it had been the biggest show so far. The Australian-bred band played to hundreds as if it were playing to only a few — though each number didn’t necessarily allow for a constant dialogue between musician and crowd, every time the group did speak, it was with sincere optimism and gratitude.
At multiple points, the group offered sentiments such as, “No matter who you are, we can all dance together,” and, “Let’s light up this room with some happiness and sunshine.” For all intents and purposes, the Aussie trio were just some dudes behind some keyboards playing some music, but the group carried and expressed itself in a way that made it clear the band was just trying to brighten up a room full of strangers’ lives — even if just for a night. It felt cliche, like it was simply too corny to be genuine, but there was something about the group that made suspension of disbelief as easy as moving to its music. That is to say, it was second nature.
Rufus delivered an uplifting and energizing set that had even the balcony on its feet. At the end of every song, it was impossible to tell if folks had been cheering through every note or if the raucous response was just beginning again. Either way, the energy in the room felt like perpetual motion — one need only the melodic sounds of Rufus and you had a winning recipe for a crowd hellbent on enjoying itself.
In many ways, the performance felt like a collaboration between the band and the audience — some covert operation to engage every rhythm-susceptible bone in the crowd’s body. Whether you were the little balloon coasting through the room all night or the shirtless guy waving the rainbow flag, you were having a good time. It was clear, at least for the hour of their performance, that there was no place the folks in attendance would rather be.