The Top Five Parties in San Francisco this Weekend
St. Patrick's Day looms, but that doesn't mean you need to put on green clothing to party this weekend. In fact, the draw of South by Southwest in Austin. means that an unusually high number of big touring acts will be stopping in the City by the Bay. Somewhat oddly, this week the focus is on the slick and heavily medicated sound of contemporary tech-house. The focal point being Friday's extended-length, headlining set by Seth Troxler, one of the most respected figures in this new movement. But that's not all, and as usual we've got you covered. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
Seth Troxler plays at Public Works on Friday.
It takes a lot to even land a mention on influential dance website Resident Advisor's Top 100 DJs list, and it takes even more to reach its upper echelon. So it says something that Seth Troxler has been a regular fixture there, and just last year was awarded its No. 1 slot (in front of legends like Richie Hawtin and Dixon, no less). His rise has less to do with his productions than his charismatic DJ persona and herculean sets. He was exposed to house music at a young age, living in Detroit during the golden years of techno, and working at the legendary Melodies & Memories record store alongside Motown heroes like Theo Parrish. His first release as "Young Seth" won a spot on a compilation released by FXHE, an experimental label run by the mercurial and highly selective Omar S. But Troxler's current appeal lies in his ability to channel these underground roots for the purposes of super-clubs and outdoor festivals.
After moving to Berlin in the mid-'00s, Troxler found himself among like-minded artists who were busy re-inventing house music by grafting its four-to-the-floor rhythms and soulful vocals to downer bass lines and dissociated melodies. This sound was custom-tuned for nights spent drifting through the polychromatic prisms of a Ketamine high, and became the perfect soundtrack for those rare professionals who give up their day-job in favor of a 24-hour party lifestyle. Troxler seems to acknowledge this in the dark lyrics he wrote for Art Department's 2011 club hit "Living the Life," where he sarcastically asks, "Are you living the life you've always wanted to live? If so, good for you."
Clearly, Troxler is living the life he wants to live, flying around the world playing at some of the most exclusive clubs while also helping to run Visionquest, the label/party collective he co-founded with kindred spirits Shaun Reeves, Lee Curtiss, and Ryan Crosson. Just last summer he finished up a coveted residency at massive Ibiza club DC10. If there's one thing that kind of touring schedule brings, it's consistency -- so expect to be dazzled this Friday at Public Works. Get prepared by listening to this recent mix. And if Troxler's style isn't your thing, check out the venue's OddJob Loft, where L.A. disco outfit Cosmic Kids (listen to "Reginald's Groove") will be sharing the stage alongside local ace DJ Conor and Lights Down Low residents Sleazemore and Richie Panic.
Rebel Rave presents Art Department and
Damian Lazarus at Public Works
Thursday, March 14. 9 p.m. $15-$20
Though Troxler may be tech-house's current spokesman, the sound wouldn't be where it is without Damian Lazarus. In the early '00s he founded the Crosstown Rebels imprint, the London label responsible for starting the careers of many of the movement's leading lights. Like the music he champions, Lazarus' style is sultry with a darkly psychedelic edge--which you can get a feel for by listening to this mix recorded live at Burning Man in 2011. His party tonight celebrates the 10th anniversary of the label with a co-headlining spot by the similarly minded Kenny Glasgow of Toronto duo Art Department (whose dirgish "Without You" is worth a listen).
To say that Washington, D.C., duo Benoit & Sergio have a rare combination of influences would be an understatement: Their music recalls the earnest vocal delivery of Paul Simon, the thick arrangements of Some Great Reward-era Depeche Mode, and the surgical precision of modern club music. They arrived on the scene in 2009 with the mournful anthem "What I've Lost," and quickly earned a fan base with their quirky, always-danceable sound. A big part of the appeal lies in their live show, which goes beyond mere DJing to incorporate hardware and crooning. Check out this video for an idea of what to expect.
Three years ago, UK-based Maxxi Soundsystem (aka Sam Watts) exploded onto the world stage with his steamy and garage-hued dancefloor hit "Criticize." That song managed to inject a little bit of the proto-electronic soul of '80s New York into the more greasy tones of contemporary dance. Subsequent tracks, such as "Stella's Way," have brought more of that essential energy for an overall sound that's just as at home in dark basements -- like the one at Monarch this Saturday -- as in more expansive festival environs.
Sometimes all you have to do is cross a bridge to find something phenomenal. In this case that bridge leads to Oakland, and the avant-garde hip-hop on offer at "Smart Bomb." Specializing in the sativa-dominant strains of post-J. Dilla and Flying Lotus-style production, the party offers live performances by some of the Bay Area's best and brightest. Producers like Spaceghost, Dakim, and Devonwho will be on deck to present their latest works live with stacks of MIDI-controllers, hardware, and laptops.