Lost in the Night: Matrixxman Does Disco at Milk Bar
Spilt Milk presents Matrixxman
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Head to the Haight and walk down towards Stanyan. There, sandwiched between a Whole Foods and one of the city's diciest McDonalds, is Upper Haight's one and only real nightclub. Which is weird, if you think about it. After all, this is the neighborhood that once housed the I-Beam, one of the city's most storied old-school discotheques. Milk Bar may not be as regal, but it gets the job done. Always a standby for the USF and SF State student populations that live in the general vicinity, in the past couple years Milk been commandeered by an enterprising group of promoters who throw a party called Spilt Milk. They cater to an emerging crosssection of young and fashionable techno, bass, and house enthusiasts with an out-of-the-way venue that offers a novel contrast to the more frequently utilized spaces in the SoMa and the Mission. This Saturday saw the turn of local producer Matrixxman behind the decks.
I was outside the club accompanying a friend of mine as he worked through a Marlboro. The street was alive with a mixture of barhoppers and casual smokers, punctuated by members of the Haight's grungy majority. A tall model-ish girl in leopard print pants walked by us and I watched as a busker gawked in raptured silence. A taxi pulled up and another group of girls got out in shiny shirts. We followed closely behind them as we made our way inside.
The first thing that strikes you about Milk is the club's commitment to its white namesake. The whole room is bathed in cream colored upholstery, so, less charitably, you might even say it resembles the interior of a padded cell. The ceilings are high, and a balcony looks down from above onto the bar patrons below. The only thing tarnishing the clean decor's seamlessness were some tastefully chosen projections of rainbow-hued video feedback. I ordered a round of drinks and soaked in the ambient chatter of the patrons around me. The music on the soundsystem was almost entirely composed of '70s disco classics, with Latin conga patterns and lush strings crackling through the air. It was a mellow night for the party, with a modest but jumping crowd mingling on the couches and booths.
The main attraction of Milk is the sizeable dancefloor tucked in the rear of the venue. It resembles a vault, and contrasts with the bar area by being painted an impermeable Space Mountain black. My friend and I made our way back there and found ourselves in the middle of an energized dancing scene made up of a youthful crowd dressed in club-kid attire. In control of it all was the bearded figure of Matrixxman, who remained in constant motion, pulling CDs from his wallet and occasionally working the crossfaders to create percussive pauses like a hip-hop DJ.
Though he's known for his production credits for bass-oriented rappers like Le1f and Mykki Blanco, the mixture he played Saturday floated nimbly between the connected nodes of classic disco, New York house, and contemporary German techno. Far from being a problematic discrepancy, his song selections only encouraged those present to dance harder. One minute it was Donna Summer's "I Feel Love," the next it was a faceless instrumental techno cut, and then it was Todd Terje's "Inspector Norse." I looked through the fog machine haze to see a guy in shutter shades losing his mind on the elevated stage in front of two girls similarly affected. A few local faces showed up and stood in the corners talking with one another while the evening continued to unfold.
Maybe it's a function of the club's location, but things began to wind down rather early. Whereas at other venues the party runs straight up to last call, people began to filter out around 1 a.m., presumably looking for somewhere else with longer hours. It was too bad, because the vibe was still pretty good. And despite the odds of working in such a relatively remote location, it's pretty cool that people have decided to throw a party on the edge of the Haight. I hung around a little longer, drank the rest of my beer, and grabbed a cab down the street.