Southern California has seen a recent resurgence of interest in trance, and Insomniac’s Dreamstate brand has operated as somewhat of a contemporary Medici family in regards to bringing quality and often hard-to-get artists within the genre over to large LA settings. July 1 saw the entity invite John O’Callaghan and his Subculture colleagues and peers to take over the Belasco Theatre for a special pre-July 4 showcase.
Boasting a lineup with John O’Callaghan, Bryan Kearney, Will Atkinson, Giuseppe Ottaviani, Sneijder, and local hero Kristina Sky, fans attending the 8-hour event were well aware that these respected acts would be putting forth an excellent show. Their expectations were quickly met upon opening time, where Kristina Sky’s dreamy set could be heard as people entered the building. She conquered her opening role as per usual, playing a great deal of classic progressive trance pieces, including a good deal by the artists playing.
Subculture brought out a solid crowd of dedicated trance enthusiasts to the affair – the atmosphere erred on the stuffy side as the show was sold out, but generally devoid of pushy individuals and heavy cramming in the front. Jubilant energy filling the room was palpable – smiles lit up many faces as recognizable anthems sparked subsequent singalongs. A spacious, extra air-conditioned room equipped with surround sound speakers offered a welcome refuge from the heat without cutting out any of the audio experience.
Though Sneijder unfortunately had to cancel his appearance at the event last minute, the show went on swimmingly regardless. Giuseppe Ottaviani brought his Live 2.0 setup to the festivities, performing a high-caliber set filled with gritty tech trance and hints of uplifting that served as a perfect primer to the heavier Subculture artists to come. Emotions ran high in the crowd as the Italian veteran opened up with Robert Miles’ “Red Zone” – a fitting tribute to his recently-passed countryman.
John O’Callaghan took the reins next, taking his crowd on an emotive journey for two hours. The Subculture boss and headliner demonstrated his keen ability in engaging his audience, throwing them into a round of hard-hitting pieces one moment, then transitioning into ethereal soundscapes the next. Highlights of his performance included a heads-down moment with the timeless classic “Back To Earth” by Yves Deruyter, and shared euphoria upon playing his renowned re-work to “Two Trees,” which just saw an official release after its debut on Aly & Fila’s Essential Mix as 2016.
By the time Bryan Kearney stepped up to the decks, the crowd was well-primed for heavier cuts which the Irish producer and Kearnage owner delivered in spades. Tantalizing lasers and LED displays lit the room as Kearney blasted his audience’s ears with pounding kicks and scintillating psy. That said, he made sure to allow a brief respite among the heaviness with his more sentimental hits – one such example came at the end of the set, as attendees sung along in unison to his touching new Plumb collaboration “All Over Again.”
Finally, it came time for Will Atkinson to close the night down with a proper dose of insanity. Feelings of fatigue and exhaustion were quickly traded in for a final spout of energy as raunchy melodies and throbbing bass pulsated through the speakers and pummeled the still-packed room into submission. There was no choice but to dance with Atkinson’s expertly-crafted track selection, which ended the night on a truly powerful note.
Subculture has become a revered label within the contemporary trance scene since its inception, and John O’Callaghan and his colleagues certainly demonstrated why on July 1. The label showcase was exceptional to say the least, and thanks to assistance from Insomniac, O’Callaghan was able to bring along some high-caliber acts along for the ride. Given the overwhelmingly positive audience response and the quality of music overall, it looks as though Southern California is fully behind the Subculture cause as well.
Photos courtesy of Dreamstate.