As we make our way through the month of August and Burning Man – the legendary event that seems to take away much of San Francisco’s population for a few weeks, also known as “That Thing In The Desert” – is fast approaching. Though the gathering is not music-centric like many “music festivals” are, it is important to recognize that some of the most notable house, techno and other electronic music legends have made their way to the dust to perform for crowds on the playa.
In honor of this fast approaching date, we’re taking today to recognize a few of our favorite sets that have been performed amidst the dust.
1. Lee Burridge on Robot Heart – 2016
Lee Burridge has become synonymous with the phrase “sunrise set”, and is particularly well-known for his annual Robot Heart sunrise set at Burning Man. Burridge, who is also owner of the All Day I Dream label and runs the All Day I Dream circuit of shows across the globe, offers one of the best musical styles to welcome in your day.
Robot Heart is one of the most prominent sound art cars at Burning Man, pictured at the top of this article. Originally a bus-turned-art piece, it hosts a massive sound system and an iconic wire heart atop its roof above the DJ booth. Their community is based globally, with the majority of their crew in New York. Their musical featurings each year never cease to amaze – you can expect some of most beautiful, breathtaking playa tech to echo from these speakers throughout the nights.
2. Sabo at White Ocean – 2015
Sabo – a DJ and producer whose real name is William Sabatini – has an eclectic musical style influenced by sounds and cultures from around the globe. With a strong basis of tribal dance for most of his productions, the music he both produces and mixes into his sets will entrance you with its intricate layers of vocals, melodies and a thriving bassline.
3. Acid Pauli on Mayan Warrior – 2015
Martin Gretschmann’s live set project – better known in the musical world of Acid Pauli – is an act that is not to be missed. Gretschmann’s first tracks were released in 1995 under a different pseudonym called “Console”, and eventually decided to venture into this solo project with the aims of creating a more club-oriented performance. His masterful mixing skills brings together elements of house and techno to create a journey for listeners to embark on. This set in particular was a huge hit for Mayan Warrior – you can see the crowd in the video below – as it was a mid-week set that brought out many wanderers looking for a musical adventure.
Mayan Warrior is another huge art car with a strong musical presence at Burning Man. The car is distinctly known for its lasers – a light show unlike anything else you’ll see in the world – with over 70,000 watts of power on board. It, like Robot Heart, boasts a heavy-hitting lineup of artists that perform each year – past artists have included Atish, Yokoo, DJ Tennis, Oceanvs Orientalis and many, many more.
4. Behrouz on Robot Heart – 2013
Behrouz is a Burning Man musical mainstay and offers a signature sound that is both captivating and entrancing. The artist grew up in San Francisco and eventually took on the world, as he traveled to play in stops from Tokyo and Brazil to New York and Spain. In one of his past Robot Heart sets from years earlier, he puts his experience on the playa into simple, touching words:
“When people ask me what is Burning Man, the most truthful thing I can say is that it’s a magical place that has held a special place in my heart for a long time. It may not be for everyone but I tell you one thing, it has rejuvenated my life and made me a better person as well as many others. I feel the love from every human that has been in this place I have come to call ‘home’. It’s made me more creative with my music, more caring and to sum it up, Burning Man is capable of changing the whole world’s attitude and making it a better place to live. When I look around me in the playa, all I see are people from all over the world, sharing, caring and loving one another. Why can’t we apply this to the world?
At the same time, it gives me great pleasure to share my music each year with the Robot Heart family. These sets are very special and truly come from a place in my heart that it’s hard to describe in words. It’s a gift to each and every one of you. It’s an honor to play on the Robot Heart bus each year and I hope you enjoy and feel what I am going through in this set.”
5. Tycho’s Sunrise Set on Dusty Rhino – 2015
Perhaps one of the most iconic mornings on playa is the Thursday morning sunrise set with Tycho atop the Dusty Rhino art car. Tycho – an ambient music DJ and producer – hails from San Francisco and produces a sound that will draw you in with its ability to blend warm layers of beats, melodies and vocals in quite the enticing manner. The car sits out in deep playa, facing the mountains where the sun comes up, as Tycho narrates the sun breaking the horizon with a mesmerizing list of tracks that lull you into the morning sun. Perhaps you haven’t slept yet – or perhaps you woke up just in time. Either way, this set is a musical delight perfect for any sunrise-watching occasion.
Burning Man officially kicks off on Sunday, August 27 and ends on Monday, September 4. It takes places in Black Rock City, Nevada. It brings together thousands of people to create a temporary city, built from the ground up and whisked away completely at the end of the week with no trace left, and has also created a larger global community around the principles it embodies.