The Top Five Parties in San Francisco This Weekend
Confusion is the word that best describes the zeitgeist of San Francisco nightlife these days. A lot of that has to do with 222 Hyde, the fantastic basement club that's unfortunately shutting down permanently this Saturday. Given the circumstances, we felt it was only right to devote a chunk of words hashing out the details of its last days. So, technically, this is a top seven list, but who's counting anyway? This time around, imagine a tear in our metaphorical eye as we bid you: read on -- your weekend awaits.
Flight Facilities plays at Mezzanine on Saturday
Mark Farina, San Proper, Polk & Hyde, and More @ 222 Hyde
Thursday-Saturday, March 7-9. 10 p.m. Prices vary
As reported early last week, after nearly four years of providing one of the city's unique nightlife experiences, Tenderloin club 222 Hyde has announced that it will close on March 9. Owner Emilio "EO" Giraudbit says a dispute with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control over the club's liquor license and the impending sale of the building to new owners who "would not be sympathetic to the club or its operations" mean it's time to shut down.
Affectionately referred to as the "rave cave" by its patrons, 222 Hyde is one of the centers of San Francisco's underground dance music scene. In 2009, Giraudbit bought the space -- then an ailing electro club with a notoriously awful sound system -- and began a makeover that turned the basement sweatbox into a favorite destination of in-the-know DJs around the world. 222 Hyde's Turbosound installation is one of the best sound systems in town; its $6,000 Allen & Heath rotary mixer is a pleasure for DJs to use; and its ceiling-mounted LED lighting array brings an intense visual spectacle to a brick-walled subterranean space only a little larger than a studio apartment. This week may be the club's last, but like nearly everything at 222 Hyde, it comes in style, with a well-orchestrated string of goodbyes.
Thursday, March 7, is the beginning of the end, with a performance by San Francisco master DJ Mark Farina. Best known for his canonical '90s "Mushroom Jazz" compilations, he's perfected a style that blends the smooth, disco-based sound of '90s Chicago artists like Derrick Carter with mellow downtempo jazz. He's become an in-demand touring DJ who plays some of the biggest clubs in the world, so this set at 222 Hyde offers a rare chance to see him perform in an intimate setting, digging deep into his collection. Listen to this mix for an idea of what he's all about.
Friday, March 8, continues with a takeover by the always tasteful party outfit As You Like It. The headliner is San Proper, a Dutch house producer whose output often defies genre conventions. Playful in his approach, he navigates the spaces between techno, house, and freaky disco, grounding it all with the human appeal of his often surreal lyrics. This has allowed him to release music on seemingly disparate labels, like the abstract M>O>S>, minimal Perlon, and jubilant Rush Hour. Long a fixture in the Amsterdam dance music community, his DJ sets are as far-reaching as his productions, so this should be a real treat when combined with As You Like It's typically open-minded crowd. Check out "Groundfloor."
The big event, however, is Saturday, March 9. For its final night, the club has arranged to have just about every big local DJ who's ever been involved bring on one last hurrah. As of press time, that includes Sleazemore, whose Lights Down Low party began in the sweatbox back in the mid-'00s; Polk & Hyde, the fabulous live electronic duo of Giraudbit and Jonah Sharp; Jeno, the San Francisco rave DJ who was an integral member in Wicked Soundsystem, one of the dominant rave crews in the city throughout the '90s; and Atish, a local underground house mainstay. Given high emotions and a bill that includes some of the city's brightest, this party will undoubtedly be one for the history books. And with the future of the space in question, this will be your last chance to descend the stairs and get lost in the chaotic sensory barrage that made 222 Hyde so special.
Grab a towel and some talcum powder, you're going to need it: The house sound of '90s New York is once again back and dominating in the clubs. Though many are jumping onto the sound now, UK duo Bicep have been at the forefront for years. Their blog Feel My Bicep was instrumental in reintroducing a generation of collectors to the classic tracks of Manhattan's underground. Recent years have seen them rocking dance floors from Ibiza to Manhattan with club-ready anthems like "$tripper" and "Vision of Love," which reference legends like Kerri Chandler and Masters at Work, and achieve a near-perfect mix of swung-out jazz rhythms and gritty diva samples.
If it wasn't for DJ Pierre, there's a good chance rave culture may have never happened. In the '80s, under the guise of Phuture, he took the neglected TB-303 bassline synthesizer and used its freakish sounds to create "Acid Tracks," the song that birthed the genre known as acid house. Via roundabout means, this would become the popular soundtrack for what's referred to as "The Second Summer of Love," when a generation of disaffected British youth took to the warehouses, dropped ecstasy, and raved 'til dawn. That's not Pierre's only accomplishment, either: in the '90s, he offered a distinctly dark and loopy approach to vocal house with his "Wild Pitch" project (as can be heard on his classic remix of Photon Inc.'s "Generate Power"). These days he blends the two sounds, with acid and four-to-the-floor grooves blended into one cohesive package.
No Way Back presents Optimo @ Monarch
Friday, March 8. 10 p.m. $10-$20
In 1983, New York dance punk outfit Liquid Liquid would likely never have predicted the forking paths that would come from its song "Optimo." On the one hand, the tune's elastic bassline would be sampled and thrown into pop culture history via Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "White Lines (Don't Do It)." But it would also inspire two Glaswegian DJs to create one of the underground's most eclectic outfits. As Optimo, JD Twitch and JG Wilkes specialize in creating atmospheres of high weirdness with a soundtrack of menacing '80s industrial, freaked-out dance classics, and, yes, even a little dance punk. Watch their recent back to back set on Boiler Room with German avant-garde house producer Move D.
The term "dead as disco" doesn't hold much water these days. The much-maligned genre has risen from the grave and found a place in the nightclubs of the world once again. This is due in part to the efforts of artists like Aeroplane (try "In Her Eyes feat. Jamie Principle") and Flight Facilities (try Crave You feat. Giselle"), two acts who've held the torch by mixing the sound's complex arrangements, sleazy ambiance, and club-ready drive with the production techniques of the present. Witness them conjure the past this Saturday at Mezzanine, where they DJ alongside a host of local selectors.