DJ T-Fresh held it down in the beginning, spinning his versions of such crowd-pleasing tracks as Haddaway’s “What is Love” and Duke Dumont’s “Ocean Drive.” Then there was Choice, who was next in line before Branchez, and who himself could have passed as the headliner. Charming the audience with covers of favorites like “Flashing Lights” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” his brand of gospel-twinged, slightly tropical house seems to find an ideal audience in Santa Barbara’s sun-worshipping crowd of EDM fans. One show-goer was apparently so enthused that she could no longer contain her excitement and just had to jump up onstage and start singing along. Choice welcomed her by throwing his arm around her and encouraging the rest of us to sing, too. He won me over with the call and response session featuring the single line, “Love is the only way,” which most of the revelers – intoxicated as they were – were only too happy to participate in.
Still, the audience’s most enthusiastic cheering and flailing about was saved for the arrival of Branchez. The streams of colored lights that marked the entry of the night’s main attraction shown from behind, making it look as though they were emanating from his person. His sound was a little darker and more akin to trap and hip-hop, though still bright and danceable enough to dreamily move one’s arms and elbows to. One of his biggest hits of the night was, inevitably, his well-known bootleg of Rihanna’s “Stay,” which had some swaying on each other’s shoulders. Moving to the beat of his own virtual drum machine, Branchez looked like he was having as much fun as the rest of us were — which, if the level of humidity in the half full room was any indication, was rather a lot.