Factory 93 has once again completely transformed a stereotypical Los Angeles venue into an underground oasis for music lovers in the heart of Hollywood. Saturday the quickly growing Insomniac brand specifically for House and Techno music aficionados took over the Hollywood Palladium, one of the oldest and most well known performances venues in Los Angeles. This venue, which opened in 1940, has featured artists like: the Tommy Dorsey band featuring Frank Sinatra, who performed the night the venue first opened its doors; iconic rock artists including The Who and Led Zeppelin; more recent pop artists like Justin Timberlake; and, this past weekend it played host to house music legends Solomun and his +1 Hot Since 82. Only a huge brand like Insomniac could pull an event like this off while also completely changing a well known concert venue into a living and breathing nightclub atmosphere where the social environment is as important as the music.
From its forays at EDC to the collaboration with Exchange LA, a nightclub housed in the former stock market downtown, to the warehouse renovation in order to give Factory 93 a home in Los Angeles: the Insomniac brand has always understood the concept of the social requirements of electronic music. We go out to see certain artists and to dance, that is a givien; however, we go out to see and experience each other too. Initially I was slightly disappointed such a huge event as a Solomun+1 show would be happening at the Palladium, no matter how iconic it is. This venue is a concert venue and organized for fans to watch a show. Yes, dance music artists have played there before, but the set up does not encourage the interactive dancing and social atmosphere which a nightclub inherently has.
However, upon walking in I immediately realized that for a Factory 93 event one will never get simply what they expect. The production team had completely reoriented the space and transformed the giant venue into a oblong nightclub. They built their own stage on the far left side rather than use the stage to the front of the entrance. It was fully equipped with lasers and led panels completed by a disco ball covering the crowd in prismatic glitter. They put in extra bars along where the stage normally sits which enhanced the nightclub atmosphere and reduced wait times to grab a drink. The entire venue was a bar and the entire bar was the dance floor.
Hot Since 82 came on and enticed the crowd into a dance. However, the atmosphere created allowed for the chatting one can expect at the beginning of the night out in any city. As his set continued the white noise began to dissipate as his tone became a little deeper leading in perfectly to Solomun himself. The sets merged together seamlessly. I had not seen Solomun in action before and it was truly mesmerizing. The Factory 93 team had perfectly designed the visuals to enhance his music without being too distracting. The lasers hit at just the right moments and certain drops brought a flood of light allowing the smiles from across the room to be shared by all. Fans dancers waved brought a touch of a breeze to us all as we sweat together and danced the night away. They ended with a b2b set which tapered off every so slightly from the depth Solomun had brought us into and allowed us to make our way out and back into reality again.
The only odd thing about the whole setup was that the VIP area was directly above the stage. People who had paid more money for a table or VIP access had no view of the DJs or stage itself. They did, however, have access to an exclusive bar and bathroom without a line. Also, there was no reason they couldn’t go downstairs and merge with the rest of the crowd. I can see how some people may have been put off; but, the venue was more of a nightclub than a concert venue. I think it may have forced more interaction than would have been the case on a normal night in Hollywood. Hollywood is a city where people love to feel exclusive. The show brought out an interesting mix of the Hollywood norm of bandage dresses and heels alongside bros wearing Factory 93 snapbacks and girls in glitter and combat boots. It was an amalgamation on Hollywood and the dance music community and Factory 93 created the perfect space for mixing without overemphasizing exclusivity. The change put everyone on more equal footing and the rearrangement made the dance floor large enough to accommodate a large crown without overcrowding.
Solomun+1 was a huge success and I think perfectly highlights what Insomniac is seeking to do with the Factory 93 brand: bring together underground music lovers in safe spaces to share and experience music and culture. They never settle to simply use a venue the way it is but transform it to perfectly fit the artists and fans they bring into the space. It felt like I was in a new nightclub event though the Palladium has been around since the Golden Age of Hollywood. It shows Factory 93’s understanding of underground culture and I am excited for more collaborations with artists and venues to come in 2018.
Photo Credit: Jake West for Insomniac