Lights Down Low Closes Out 2011 with Benoit & Sergio and a Massive Crowd

Kahley Avalon Emerson

Lights Down Low presents No Regular Play and Benoit & Sergio
Public Works
Friday, Dec. 2, 2011

Better than: The Pet Shop Boys' video for their cover of the Village People's "Go West".

So far, Lights Down Low has had a long and wild run. Started at the height of the mid-'00s electro boom at 222 Hyde, the monthly party has seen its fair share of new crowds, DJs, and spaces. Now headquartered at Som, the party has adapted to fit nicely inside the topography of San Francisco nightlife with a curated roster of guest artists that covers a broad cross section of dance music -- albeit with a bass-heavy bias. Historically, Lights Down Low has always been a popular party, but nothing it has previously done can compare to Friday's year-end bash at Public Works with No Regular Play, Benoit & Sergio, and a small army of DJs.

We arrived early and were greeted by a loosely packed floor of dancers limbering up to a set of classics provided by Sammy D (affiliated with both Pillowtalk and Kontrol). Tracks like Sugardaddy's remix of Man Friday's "Love Honey (Love Heartache)" and Billy Ocean's "Nights (Feel Like Getting Down)" mingled in the air with new stuff like Mark E's "Call Me (Dixon Edit)" and a re-edited version of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terell's "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing."

Kahley Avalon Emerson

At around 11:30, the room began to pack up with a fairly diverse cast of characters that included the most girls I've ever seen at Public Works in one night. Looking around, the general makeup of the room was different than the space usually attracts, with a mixed bag of young professionals, upwardly mobile cool-kid types, Marina denizens (oddly), and a whole bunch of club rats. Along with these groups came another fringe element that didn't exactly get integrated into the fold -- a flock of totally done-up girls in high heels dodging the twirlings of a practicing fire dancer. It was also a fairly boozy crowd, and from the middle of the floor on to the outside and upstairs I noticed a kind of impatient and nervous pushiness pervading the room. Of course, this might also just have been a natural result of how crowded the entire thing was.

Bouncing upstairs for a moment, we caught a little of Sleazemore's set in the OddJob loft. Fairly packed in its own right, he worked the room with a set that touched on breaks, UK bass, and house. The apex came when he dropped Awesome Three's "Don't Go," whose busy drumwork and euphoric piano chords made short work of the crowd. Speaking of which, the loft had the atmosphere of being populated by the Lights Down Low faithful, with a large entourage on stage surrounding the DJ booth.

Kahley Avalon Emerson

Downstairs, the room was churning with people. Brooklyn duo No Regular Play had taken the stage and was serving up a deep and jazzy set of live house music performed on a small collection of gear that included a laptop, APC-40 controller, and a live trumpet played by Greg Paulus (one-half of the duo, and responsible for most of the vocals as well). It was an impressive set, though one that ran into a few technical difficulties. The sound of Paulus' voice and trumpet were both buried in the mix to the point that a girl from the audience charged the stage and told them to turn it up. When they did fix it, the trumpet added an extra layer to the experience. In an age when performing on an iPad is considered acceptable, there's really something to be said for people who possess old-school musicianship.

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