Underground Vibrations

Clubs and the electronic dance music scene return to the city post-pandemic.


Anessa Bailon

Patrons enjoy the vibrating bass of techno music at Vitamin1k’s Techno Night at Underground SF on October 21, 2022. This was the collective’s first techno night and it was met with an astounding crowd. (Anessa Bailon / Xpress Magazine)

It’s 9:00 P.M. on a Friday night. Ben, the doorman for Underground SF, checks the IDs for the very first attendees of Vitamin1k’s very first Techno Night. Neon purple light pours out of the bar’s door as they walk in and head straight for the bar. Though the event is currently barren, by 11:00 P.M. the venue is packed shoulder to shoulder with warm bodies, moving like a unison wave to the steady thrum of techno music.

San Francisco has seen a resurgence in the popularity of electronic music events within the last couple of years. DJs, collectives, promoters and radio stations have been popping up all over the Bay Area with a drive to bring a national light to the underground electronic music scene. After the Ghost Ship Oakland fire of 2016, these events have been reemerging from the underground and secret planning to assert their place in the mainstream nightlife scene of the Bay Area.

Vitamin1k has become a pioneer in the Bay Area for these electronic music events, such as with their Techno Night at Underground SF. Wyatt Slate founded the collective in about 2019, with their very first event occurring in his hometown of Monterey. Vitamin1k found itself in the local nightlife after a TikTok on their account advertising one of their events garnered over 90 thousand views. The group anticipated the event to have about 100 attendees, but after the viral video, they had about 250 people show up at the event.

“There’s a lot of exponential growth in the community that I think it’s been building up to, but right now, it’s kind of fully hitting.” said Slate.

Vitamin1k is just one of the major players in the Bay Area electronic music scene. This community is deeply connected and it seems like everyone knows each other. Even as Slate stands outside Underground SF, he is constantly being greeted and shot smiles by passerbyers on their way into the event.

Just about 15 minutes away, in an alley on the border between Chinatown and Financial District, Fault Radio is a much more chill space for Bay Area electronic music lovers. This station started as an online radio station that uploads and streams different sets from DJ’s all over the Bay Area, and they recently opened this listening space in July of 2022. This hole-in-the-wall music space boasts a DJ stand in the middle of the room surrounded by plants, art on the walls, vinyl records for sale, and chairs along the wall. On this random Friday afternoon, Aircrax, also known as Yuri, was starting Fault Radio’s line up for the day with some funky Chicago house music.

Aircrax, also known as Yuri, performing at Fault Radio in San Francisco’s Chinatown for their live stream via Twitch on October 14, 2022. Yuri is spinning vinyl for the first time and has been DJing since 2018. (Anessa Bailon / Xpress Magazine)

Mohit Kohli is the studio manager for Fault Radio and has been supporting the station since the very beginning. While listening to Aircrax’s set, he talks about his experience spending his 20’s in the music scene.

“I never got the sense of competition in the community. We’re all trying to do fun, cool stuff together, trying to share music.” says Mohit.

With events like Boiler Room and Portola Festival coming to the Bay Area, interest in the area’s nightlife and music scene has been booming. This gives the DJ’s, collectives, and promoters the opportunity to thrive in their community and get the recognition deserved for their art form.