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PREVIEW: 2nd Annual Sacramento Electronic Music Festival

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If you cruise on over to Daedelus’ website and check out his list of upcoming shows, the Sacramento Electronic Music Festival is not listed.

No cause for panic – he will indeed be there. Plus, the absence of events like an SEMF in the world of “formal” event lists is actually pretty common. What is worth taking notice of is the events that are listed.

A trio of gigs in New York and Washington D.C. alongside Lotus, followed by a buffet of shindigs across the pond at various clubs and festivals.

Oh yeah, there’s one other gig on the Daedelus page that isn’t listed – it’s some little gathering down in the desert we keep hearing about?

While he would have to be considered the most widely known name on the list, this combustive puppeteer of beats from Los Angeles is only one example of the thundering herd of talent assembled by organizers Adam Saake and Clay Nutting for the Second Annual Sacramento Electronic Music Festival.

“It’s gonna be a lot of heads up in the building,” Nutting said, “but that’s what great about this, you get to see an artist like (Daedelus) on a small stage; it’s an intimate setting for a show like this.”

“I know there’s people out there who just don’t understand (electronic music) or who think it’s noise, but it’s about art,” Nutting added. “If you look at it from afar and aren’t really familiar with what they’re doing, you’ll see that they’re in front of a computer, but they’re producing art live in front of you. They create it before the event and they integrate it with art they produce live on stage.

“Each artist integrates their own emotion, just like a painter painting a picture. They’re sharing their art with you; if you’re a true music fan you can appreciate that no matter what your preference is.”

The three-day Second Annual Sacramento Electronic Music Festival begins at the Townhouse on Thursday, January 27 at 9 p.m., and continues on Friday, January 28 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, January 29 at 7 p.m. The Townhouse is located at 1517 21st St. Tickets are $7 for each night, or $15 for a three-day pass, and can be purchased online here. All shows are age 21+.

Among the nearly 30 local (and a few visiting) artists performing at the festival are Daedelus, Little Foxes, New Humans, Sister Crayon, former Command Collective artists Dusty Brown, Tycho and Tha Fruitbat, and several others. See below for the full lineup.

Last year’s inaugural festival at the classic Midtown haunt was overwhelmingly popular, with sellout crowds on both weekend nights. Nutting and Saake expect more of the same for round two (e.g., get your tickets now), but neither is counting their chickens.

“I think that anyone has that concern whenever you’re planning an event; there's that thought of ‘crap, are people going to show up for this?’” Saake said lightheartedly. “You can’t look at your Facebook RSVPs and say ‘oh, we’re good.’”

In formulating the first installment of the event last year, Saake envisioned a gathering reminiscent of the times a decade ago when local electronic artists the Command Collective were routinely rattling the ones and twos together. The festival was intended to serve as a weekend lightning rod for a scene that has been steadily vibrant over the ensuing time, albeit slightly more disjointed.

“For me, it was tapping into the nostalgia of 10 years ago,” Saake said. “It wasn’t huge, but there was a good 10 acts that were making music and doing shows together; there was more of a unity.

“Over the years people have gone their separate ways, but it never really went away. While (the performers of) that original scene were off doing their own thing, there was a whole new batch doing their thing, but it wasn’t a ‘scene.’”

While still holding court at “The ToHo’s” cozy confines, the SEMF is burgeoning into a significant to-do in only its second year, both in terms of local recognition of the event itself, and in terms of the challenge it offers to lingering negative perceptions or pigeonhole assumptions of the electronic music genre.

We don't need to list them, you already know what they are.

Like last year, this year’s event will feature music in both the upstairs and downstairs portions of the Townhouse. Additional visual elements and projections are being added throughout the room – oh yeah, and there’s an app for that.

“Some people don’t necessarily consider artists like New Humans a traditional electronic artist – and I don’t think they do either,” Nutting said. “We have DJs who spin music from that genre, and then you have acts like Sister Crayon who have organic music elements married with electronic effects; we’re really showcasing the breadth of (electronic music).”

“Sometimes there's a perception, and I don’t think it’s accurate, that Sacramento can’t handle some of the bigger acts coming to town, but people don’t give it enough credit,” he added.

“Sure, it might not hack out a huge theatre for a show that could sell out in San Francisco, but bringing that down to a smaller venue, it breeds people’s faith in the community and inspires people, and we see (SEMF) as a platform for that. We see it as a chance to bring more talent to Sac and get people recognizing the great things we’re doing.”

“I have a five-year, ten-year plan I’m going to start putting together for this thing,” said a noticably exuberant Saake, citing events like South by Southwest or the Detroit Electronic Music Festival as massive local economic boons. “I’d love a bigger venue and to be able to bring as many people as we can from all over the state. I’d love to make Sac a destination for this festival, and to make it all ages.”

“I want the lineup to be just nuts,” he added. “I want people to go ‘what the ****, this is crazy!’”

2011 Sacramento Electronic Music Festival Lineup:


Daedelus (Ninja Tune/LA)
Tycho (Ghostly International/SF)
Sister Crayon (Manimal Records)
Pregnant (TerrorEyes)
Whores (HUMP/Grimey)
Fresh Machine (Who Cares)


LIttle Foxes (ft. Jacob Golden)
Melee Beats
Boss Magic
Shaun Slaughter (Rough House, Lipstick, D.A.M.B.)
Roger Carpio (Record Club, Rough House)
Taylor Cho
Adam J


The New Humans
Bonjay (Toronto, Ontario)
Dusty Brown
Tha Fruitbat ( Lunaticworks/Samplistic/Daly City Records)
Two Playa Game
Seventh Swami
Paper Pistols
Chachi Jones (Lunaticworks)
hearts + horses
Mike Diamond (Risque)
Sex & Weight (Risque)
My Cousin Vinny (Risque)

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