Set among the abandoned warehouses of Pier 70, Summersalt 2014 featured an exciting range of dance music performers, both international and local, in the Bay Area. Offering popular acts in hip-hop and trap from G-Eazy to Keys N Krates, the festival was a wild success, as concert-goers danced nonstop from 1 p.m. into the night. Hype men continuously shouted the typical EDM calls to action — to “make some noise” and to keep the “hands in the air” — and San Francisco was more than happy to oblige.
An Oakland native, Kehlani entertained Summersalt’s daytime partygoers with a club-ready style of R&B that recalls the music of Tinashe. Having collaborated with other stalwarts of the East Bay hip-hop scene such as IamSu!, Kehlani showed hyphy influences, as well as a fondness for ’90s rhythm and blues, in her music.
Her discography is chock full of love ballads with acoustic elements and full of longing, with production reminiscent of 80s pop songstresses such as Mariah Carey. However, for her performance at Summersalt, Kehlani toned down her tender side. Kehlani focused on the more upbeat, contemporary hip hop tracks off her new EP, for those in the audience ready to groove. With back-up dancers to support, Kehlani worked the audience with a charismatic stage presence, showing promise to be the next break-out pop act.
On the angular, more aggressive spectrum, Toronto native Grandtheft has made a name for himself with a series of high-energy hip-hop remixes. Even those unfamiliar with his work in the producer’s constantly twerking audience found it impossible to resist singing along to the producer’s Saturday evening set. Grandtheft packed his performance with popular Top-40 and hip-hop hits from Big Sean’s “Marvin & Chardonnay” to Calvin Harris’ “Summer”: familiar crowd-pleasers reinvented by Grandtheft’s signature heavy drops.
The producer’s mixing was set on rapid fire; he introduced a new track right after every drop, minute by minute. At times, Grandtheft’s hasty progression through his songs sacrificed quality of mixing, as sudden switches would cause short lulls in which dancing would halt. In order to keep the audience’s energy and enthusiasm high for the next headliner, Grandtheft closed his set by inviting fellow Torontonians Keys N Krates onto the stage for a short snippet of their collaboration, “Keep it 100.”
Keys N Krates
Along with pop sensation Disclosure and fellow Summersalt performer Big Gigantic, Keys N Krates has drawn attention in the trap community for its live instrumentation, a reactionary movement against the increasing urge for DJs to “just press play.” Proud of its exclusive use of drums, keys and live samples, Keys N Krates’ unique setup highlighted the distinctive sound — sparse and minimal rhythmic layers, less reliance on “drop” dynamics and a fuller percussive sound that contrasts with the 808s typical of trap.
While also influenced by hip-hop beats, Keys N Krates relied less on popular rap vocals to excite the crowd, drawing enthusiasm with consistent, hard-hitting bass rhythms. The trio closed their set with their most popular tunes: “Dum Dee Dum” and the woozy remix of Tove Lo’s “All the Time.”
As cliques of hip-hop fans ushered in right on time for the performance, G-Eazy was arguably the most popular act of the night, thrilling his audience with his atmospheric style of Drake-esque alternative hip-hop. An alumnus of our city’s very own Berkeley High School, G-Eazy played a set that was an homage to the Bay Area rap scene. Not only did G-Eazy’s lyrics and shout outs allude to hyphy music, Mac Dre and E-40, but his stage was also host to a slew of Bay Area cameos, from HBK Gang to Summersalt act Jay Ant.
Most confusing was the appearance of a friend who goes by the mononym “Kyle”; the two shared a verse. The rapper closed the night with an encore of some of his biggest hits, such as the get-money anthem “I Mean It” and the softer love ballad “Let’s Get Lost,” featuring another fellow Bay Area singer, Devon Baldwin.
Jason Chen covers fashion. Contact him at [email protected].