In August, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium kicked off its 10-year anniversary under the auspices of Another Planet Entertainment with zero fanfare. In fact, the landmark Civic Center arena has been dark since The City’s shelter-in-place orders took effect six months ago.
But electronic artist JAUZ is eager to bring the legendary 8,500-capacity auditorium back to life with a future appearance when it is safe to do so.
“There are lots of beautiful places to play in the U.S., but nothing like Bill Graham,” says JAUZ, 27, born Sam Vogel in Mill Valley. “It feels very much alive, new and modern but also so historic and legendary. It’s my favorite place to play in America by far.”
Many major pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop and electronic dance music artists have appeared at the venue—originally built in 1915 as the San Francisco Civic Auditorium before being renamed after late rock ‘n roll impresario Bill Graham in 1992.
Billie Eilish, Bob Dylan, Khalid, Chance The Rapper and ZEDD are just a handful of the notable artists who’ve played there since independent promotions company Another Planet Entertainment took over operations a decade ago.
In recent years, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium has become particularly popular for featuring the brightest names in EDM, including deadmau5, Marshmello, Skrillex, Steve Aoki—and JAUZ, who’s played there three times in the past three years.
The North Bay native, who moved to Southern California to pursue a career in music eight years ago—eventually achieving success with his earworm originals “Feel The Volume” and “Rock The Party,” a “Baby Shark” remix and numerous sell-out tours and major festival appearances—remembers his first Bill Graham show in 2017 as if it was yesterday.
JAUZ was admittedly nervous, knowing that it was the biggest venue he had played thus far, not to mention the fact that his manager had booked Bay Area rap legends E-40 and Too Short as his openers. The stakes were high, so he spent all day at the venue preparing for the show.
After hearing that E-40 had arrived and was sitting in the green room, he skittishly approached the rapper to thank him for appearing. The response he received from his hometown hero was unexpected.
“He turns to me and says that his kid, who’s a huge fan of mine, was bummed that he couldn’t be there,” JAUZ says. “I had no words. It’s still one of my favorite stories of all time.”
The EDM artist would again appear at the venue at the end of 2017 to headline the Audio on the Bay festival and in February of this year as part of his 42-date “Dangerous Waters” tour to support his same-titled EP. But he says that with each appearance the arena never lost any of its luster.
“There’s not a crazier feeling than seeing Bill Graham’s giant stage and massive concert room and balcony,” says JAUZ. “It’s just a really awe-inspiring room.”
Since quarantine, the DJ-producer has been making the most of his time off the road.
JAUZ has livestreamed some sets and regularly critiques fan-submitted tracks on Twitch in a segment called “Demo Roulette.” He has also produced a new dance-pop single, “Wildlife,” featuring rising singer-songwriter Karra, over the popular streaming platform.
In addition to the vocally driven “Wildlife,” which JAUZ describes as a departure from his regular club bangers, the EDM artist has been stretching himself artistically to develop more new tracks that he says are better suited for at-home listening than the festival circuit, since so many of his fans are now sheltering in place.
He is also gearing himself up for the next chapter of his musical life. That, he promises, will include more touring and, if he gets his way, more appearances at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.
“I wanted to be a musician and play in front of large crowds since I was 12,” says JAUZ. “As much as I’m appreciating the time at home, I definitely am very excited to get back to touring whenever that’s possible. I know the kids are missing it, too, and, at the end of the day, my purpose is to perform at shows and give kids an escape and help them enjoy life.”