My decision to show up so early at Audio SF was probably a bit of a mistake, but let’s get the suspense out of the way—the wait was absolutely worth it. Audio is an intimate club, which made the experience even better. Upon entering, the audience has to climb up a staircase to get to the actual space. Getting there early, I was able to see the crowd grow. The change in energy was palpable as Hotel Garuda’s set time grew near.
But that should not take anything away from his opener. Spacely, a local San Francisco DJ, warmed up the crowd in preparation for Hotel Garuda. At first, I found myself a bit impatient, but Spacely paced his set perfectly. By the time he hit his last half hour, the crowd was in a solid groove.
Once midnight rolled around and Hotel Garuda took the stage, the small club was completely packed with just enough room to move but not much more. He seemed particularly loose and calm as he began his set, but also clearly enjoying himself. Hotel Garuda made it a point to interact with the crowd and was completely unbothered by the mass of humanity in front of him.
Although he earlier released a tour mix for “One Reason,” I was still not prepared for the onslaught that occurred over the next two and a half hours. The only word that kept slamming around in my brain was “relentless.” In that long set, there really were no breaks to speak of. The tempo and pace remained high for the entire runtime. But you would never know it by looking at his performance. He was clearly feeling the energy from the San Francisco crowd and reveling in it.
That relentless energy pulled every member of the crowd into his orbit immediately. His mix of house, world music influences, and even a taste of hip hop was an obvious hit at this show. If people were excited by the end of Spacely’s set, they were positively vibrating and ready to explode within the first ten minutes of Hotel Garuda’s. The club itself helped with this, complete with laser lights and fog machines covering the crowd from the ceiling.
Hotel Garuda rewarded the obviously fantastic crowd with no less than three encores, simply by holding up a finger and mouthing “one more.” Each and every time the crowd reacted louder and stronger in a positive vein. It felt like a show that could have gone on forever. He didn’t seem to tire and the crowd was certainly ready for more. But rules are rules and all good things end. When he eventually left the stage, there was a palpable emptiness (as there usually is after a great show), but I can comfortably say that the audience left happy, if a little stunned and exhausted.
Sadly, the “One Reason” tour has come to an end. But Hotel Garuda has earned a spot in my performers to see again, and as soon as possible.