SF FESTIVAL SCENE TAKES A STEP FORWARD
A chat with Peter Doukakis, cofounder of Day to Night Festival
San Francisco, a city with a long and storied musical history. Whether it be beatniks, hippies or lowriders, SF has always been associated as the incubator for these era defining cultural movements. Bolstered by this strong musical history, the city has been host to massive festivals, parades and is known as the standard bearer for others to emulate. The strength and history of SF’s electronic music scene is no different. The Bay had its first real digital crescendo in the 90’s with the advent of the rave scene and the founding of the time-honored OM records, launching the careers of electronic music behemoths like Kaskade. San Francisco even enjoyed a second musical renaissance with the then whimsical, now above-ground label Dirtybird.
Despite SF’s strong history some are concerned for the future of the scene. Most recently, the shuttering of the long standing Treasure Island Musical Festival (TIMF) turned a few heads. TIMF had been hosting its 2-day music festival on Treasure Island since 2007 and was considered a must-see spectacle on San Francisco’s music calendar. Due to circumstances which still remain unclear, the festival’s producers Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment (APE) announced in 2018 that the event was moving to Oakland, citing conflicts with the new housing developments on Treasure Island. Then, in 2019 they announced that no further plans were being made to produce the well regarded event, leaving doubt that Treasure Island, a one of a kind location with a jaw dropping view, would ever play host to another large scale music event.
Looking forward to what lies ahead musically for the City by the Bay, Peter Doukakis believes he has the answer. Peter, a San Francisco native, has established himself a leader in the electronic music scene. In 2009 he created All Day All Night events which has hosted shows ranging from intimate nightclub gatherings to full blown festival level productions. Peter is also a talent buyer, securing the bookings of hundreds of DJs a year at SOMA’s Audio nightclub. Audio has become a home for touring DJs and boasts one of the most finely tuned and intimate Funktion-One sound systems in the U.S. Another effort he partners is SF Union Square’s Love & Propaganda, which took home the coveted “Best Dance Club” at the annual Night Club & Bar Awards 2017, held in Las Vegas. We sat down with Peter to ask him about his contributions to the scene, challenges he’s faced, and what he plans for the future with the introduction of Treasure Island’s newest gem, Day to Night Festival, holding its inaugural event this year on June 6.
The Advance: With the departure of Treasure Island Music Festival, many doubted another event of this scale would be held on the island, how did you secure the location and what challenges did you face? What are the highlights of holding an event here?
PD: To be very clear, we are not trying to recreate TIMF[Treasure Island Music Festival]. That event was always so special for the Bay Area and I appreciate what it did for the city. Treasure Island is just one of those rare locations that if you can get into, is a no-brainer. Really the highlight is the view and soaking in the skyline of the City. There aren’t many event spaces like this in the US, if not the world. The challenges are many, but we have a great team and partnership with MerSea and their ownership group there, so that’s a big plus.
The Advance: Looking back at your experience and taking the pulse of the scene, it is evident the nightclub Audio has become a home away from home for performing artists and attendees alike. It has an air of exclusivity yet somehow remains inclusive. How did you achieve this?
PD: You’re right! What is special about Audio is its size. You get to experience your favorite DJs in an intimate setting with an amazing sound system. Audio has always been a place where everyone is welcome and can feel safe. If you look at the programming, we work with promoters from all over the city to help them curate their own unique events. This isn’t just about us, meaning the team behind Audio; we built the room with versatility for the events in mind.
The Advance: How has Audio shaped the landscape and its community? Audio is located in SOMA, a neighborhood known for its hardships both commercially and residentially, how did you navigate that?
PD: Like every venue we have our ups and downs but we’ve stayed strong in [our] vision and are always looking for ways to improve and add more unique events. You’ll see that the word ‘unique’ is a theme for us. I feel like Audio has become a fundamental part of the community on 11th street and we have a big responsibility to keep that entertainment district flourishing. Featuring a healthy mix of up and coming acts, trending DJs, and legacy artists, I think [this] will keep Audio in the scene for a long time and turn it into a legacy venue.
The Advance: Audio is already certainly on its way to becoming just that: a legacy venue. This latest effort, in the form of the festival Day to Night - would you say it’s an extension of the concepts you applied to Audio?
PD: The festival was a concept I’d been thinking about for a long time. I always wanted to get into the festival space with our own branded event. With my company, All Day All Night Events, partnering with the club and my good friend DJ Dials, was a no brainer. Dials and I have done larger scale events together and on our own [have showcased] other labels and collectives. We wanted to branch out and build our own boutique festival that hopefully lasts for years to come.
The Advance: You mentioned DJ Dials, why did you choose to collaborate?
PD: Dials and I have become pretty close in the last year or so. He’s the talent buyer at 1015. We work together often and bounce ideas off each other frequently. As some of the last few independent promoters out there, we have a lot of similar experiences and often are very aligned in how we approach bookings.
The Advance: Aside from what we can see on the Day to Night description, what else can you tell us? Looks like there will be satellite events happening, making this more of an “experience” than just a festival. What are people in store for?
PD: Yeah, so without giving anything away, there will be a pre-party, after party, and sort of a next day ‘decompression’ daytime party. So keep an eye out for those!
The Advance: Curating a festival line-up is an art form in and of itself. What are you trying to achieve with your lineup?
PD: I think the lineup reflects just good vibes. It’s mostly deep house and house which is perfect for the island. We really just wanted to have a certain feel for the inaugural event, but our goal is to make this into a 2-3 day event and possibly at a bigger location down the line. Musically, when we get to the 2-3 day or multiple stage look, the lineups will be more diverse and feature different genres. The main goal for us is to nail this one with the production, logistics and not get ahead of ourselves trying to make this into a huge thing on year one. Quality is paramount and we felt that one day, one stage was the best way to achieve this and build forward.
The Advance: As an independent promoter and talent buyer with an electronic music focus, what role do you feel music plays in shaping both a legacy venue, a festival, and a community alike?
PD: Music is everything. With the accessibility to music these days people are coming together in bigger numbers and more frequently so it’s a sign that more and more people are gravitating towards electronic music. The sense of community it brings is immeasurable.
The return of a festival to Treasure Island seems like a shot in the arm for San Francisco music goers. Returning to such a sought after and Instagram worthy location, Day to Night festival seems to have every intention of raising the bar again, signaling that 2020 will be a great year for music seekers, both natives and visitors alike!
Day To Night Festival will be held on San Francisco’s Treasure Island June 6th, 2020. Starting February 20th, tickets can be purchased here.
The Advance began with the intention of creating community and dialogue around what the future of live entertainment looks like, how we are pinpointing places for growth, streamlining processes, highlighting advancements, and shaping it as a collective. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org