The Five Best Parties in San Francisco This Weekend
Beatport sold out for $50 million, 222 Hyde is shutting down, and Baauer's "Harlem Shake" somehow topped the Billboard Hot 100 for the second week in a row. Is there a connection between any of those things? Not really, but it helps to illustrate the chaotic winds of change that seem to be blowing as we enter into the thick of 2013. However, one thing that you can count on is that San Francisco is a city with great parties every week. As usual we have you covered, but what's more, we now have you partygoers covered in print as well. If you want to get a jump on things, pick up a copy of SF Weekly from your neighborhood newsrack, and you'll have the party preview one full day before it goes online. We assume most have already done that, so, for the rest you, read on -- your weekend awaits.
The Crystal Ark plays Mezzanine on Friday
It's been awhile since a compelling new party has appeared in San Francisco, which is partly what makes the Chase so noteworthy. Started by DJ Ash Williams, it offers a well-curated night of music with lots of attention paid to the high-concept visual design of in-house artist Caitlin Denny. The party caters to the avant-garde and weirdo strains of electronic dance music, with regular appearances by artists on genre-bending labels and a focus on what organizers describe as "deep house, cosmic disco, balearic vibez [sic], and lo-fi acid." This month the Chase returns to its home at the Public Works' OddJob Loft with a DJ set by Washington, D.C.-based outfit Beautiful Swimmers, the duo of Ari Goldman and Andrew Field-Pickering (aka Maxmillion Dunbar).
Though the name Beautiful Swimmers may conjure up images of Jimmy Buffett -- who once sang "Beautiful swimmers stay in the groove" -- this isn't music exclusively for beach bums. Goldman and Field-Pickering acknowledged the reference with their debut 12-inch, "Swimmer's Groove," but their music is beat-driven and sample-heavy, with a particular emphasis on the worldly club sounds of '80s New York. To listen to Beautiful Swimmers is to take a strange trip through electronic reggae drums, airy ambient synthesizers, and vague, decontextualized African chanting.
Their sound might be best understood through the 2010 EP Big Coast and its titular single, which brings together the aforementioned elements and binds them with lazy,
Arthur Russell-style trumpets to create something that sounds out of place and out of time. Its steamy vibes feel like how you might imagine a bleary 5 a.m. inside the Paradise Garage, New York's 1980s dance mecca. The duo's remix work also hints at these classical atmospheres, with names like "Nibiru (Beautiful Swimmers Late Night Dubbing Mix)" and "Magic Milk (Beautiful Swimmers Coconut Dub)." The duo's DJ sets follow along similar lines, with a smooth yet eccentric approach that's a perfect complement to sleepy faces and early morning revelries. And Beautiful Swimmers have demonstrated their suitability for such odd hours in San Francisco before, playing a particularly notorious 6 a.m. set at 222 Hyde in March of last year.
The duo is affiliated with label Future Times, the D.C. imprint run partly by Field-Pickering. Like similarly minded labels L.I.E.S. and 100% Silk, it comes at the canon of dance from the perspective of DIY culture. Its attitude is a perfect fit for the Chase, which takes the same mentality and applies it to partying.
In the '90s, few DJs experienced the kind of popular hype as progressive house icon Sasha. Mixmag's headlines were particularly hyperbolic, with titles like "Sasha Mania: The First DJ Pin-Up?" and "Son of God?" contributing to the Welshman's status as one of the era's most shining superstars. And while those days are long gone, he's managed to stay current, with sets at major European clubs that frequently leave behind the rush of trance to embrace styles like cut-up garage, jazzy house, and even pumping techno. Listen to this fabulous BBC Essential Mix from 1995.
Finding different kinds of dance music isn't particularly hard these days, but cases of extreme novelty are always welcome. This is the situation with the Crystal Ark, the group project that combines onetime LCD Soundsystem synth-wizard Gavin Russom with singer Viva Ruiz. With their accompanying full band, they explore a sonic universe of Latin-tinged disco rhythms, hypnotic psychedelia, and Spanish-language vocals. Friday, the full group, plus two dancers and a video team, headlines Mezzanine in support of its recently released self-titled debut. Check out "The City Never Sleeps" for an idea of what to expect.
909, 808, 303 -- to some people, these numbers mean everything. Together they form the core trio of '80s-era Roland gear that's essential in the production of old-school house and techno music. Today these machines have once again found favor in the hands of live performing producers -- one of which is the mysterious S/H/A/P/E/S group (listen to "Activity Patterns"), scheduled to play Friday at '90s-rave themed party Haçeteria. Expect gritty percussion and raw tones that, according to the group's online bio, are "tied together by a passion for classic gear and timeless dance music."
Deep basslines, '80s-referencing percussion, and sleazy, detuned vocals -- these are the hallmarks of the new sound of tech-house. Fueled by labels like Hot Creations and Crosstown Rebels, its slick mixture has made it a dominant soundtrack for late-night parties and daytime festivals. Miami-based DJ Danny Daze practices this craft with a number of cool and dark club hits, such as 2011's breakout single "Your Everything." He plays this Saturday at Night Moves, a new party dedicated to uniting "the veteran San Francisco house music vibes with emerging sounds of modern funk, nu-disco, deep house, and moombahsoul."