The Top Five Parties in San Francisco This Weekend
Let's just get right down to it and face facts: this coming weekend doesn't offer too many reasons to hit the pavement and start partying--there's no Cinco De Mayo, outdoor street festival, or other miscellaneous excuse. Instead, this time around you're just going to have to rely on the music and good old fashioned club culture to get you motivated. Considering the spread of parties lined up, though, you shouldn't need much help. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
Soul Clap plays Mezzanine on Saturday.
JackHammer Disco and Deep Blue present Derrick May at Public Works
9:30 p.m. Friday, May 10. $12-$20
Last year, in an interview with superstar English DJ Richie Hawtin, Skrillex (a.k.a. Sonny Moore) seemed to reveal a general ignorance about Detroit techno. Asked, "What do the cities New York, Chicago, and Detroit mean to you?" he didn't mention either of the Midwestern cities, and instead talked about '90s New York house diva Robin S. This was a surprise, since, on the surface, Skrillex's robotic sounds seem to have more kinship with the assembly-line-as-music style of the Motor City than the exuberant commercial stomp of Manhattan's '90s mainstream.
Perhaps Moore realized the gaps in his knowledge. Earlier this year, he teamed up with Diplo and A-Trak to create a new YouTube series called Potato, the first episode of which, "Bang," explored the connection between contemporary EDM and Detroit techno. It seemed well-meaning enough, educating the younger generation of ravers by covering the basics: the style's genesis in the Detroit suburb of Belleville, its once predominantly black audience, and its relationship to the city's ravaged landscape. But while the show made valid points, it also presented Detroit techno as obsolete -- an ancient technology superseded by the energy drink-sponsored assault of the modern American EDM sound.
Techno isn't obsolete, though. Like house, it's just always been more popular abroad. While commercial EDM guides the decisions of bigwig investors and corporate sponsors here, Detroit techno somewhat ironically remains a vital part of the soundtrack at super-clubs in Ibiza, Tokyo, and Berlin. One testament to this is the enduring popularity and continued evolution of the three loosely connected artists who developed the style in the mid-'80s -- one of whom, Derrick May, is headlining Public Works this Friday.
Nicknamed "The Innovator," May has made contributions to techno through his expansive vision. It helped him take a style that was ostensibly primordial sci-fi funk and push it toward the abstract, evolving genre techno is today (listen to his classic tracks like "Strings of Life" and "The Beginning (Aztec Mix)"). Though he no longer produces new music, May supports the evolution of the music by featuring younger artists on his Transmat label and keeping a busy touring schedule. All it takes is an experience with May behind the decks to understand why techno will be with us for some time -- and why it isn't a relic of the past. Techno may have deep roots, but, as a Derrick May set illustrates, no other sound can so seamlessly blend body-moving appeal with such alien, mechanical sonics. Not even Skrillex.
Germany is better known for its techno scene than its contributions to disco and house. But it's a mistake to disregard wildly creative disco artists like DJ Kaos (aka Dennis Kaun). His story is long and convoluted, but it includes spending time as a pioneering graffiti writer in '80s Berlin as well as collaborating with experimental electronic music pioneer Manuel Göttsching. Kaun's still active today (listen to Keep on Movin'), and his long-form, cosmic sound is a perfect match for the freewheeling We Are Monsters monthly. Check out this recent mix recorded from a set at the Haze Club in Beijing.
At first glance, PBR Streetgang's hard-partying music seems a perfect match for its colorful and boozy name. But dig deeper and you'll see the truth is of a more apocalyptic nature -- a PBR is a Vietnam-era river patrol boat, and "PBR Streetgang" is the name of the crew aboard the doomed vessel in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. That might seem too dark for a dancefloor, but the duo's funky, vocal-driven take on techno (as can be heard on "The Downstroke" and "At Dez") has been making clubs go upriver since it first emerged six years ago.
Sound Department 006: Matthew Dekay & Silicone Soul at Mighty
10 p.m. Friday, May 10. $10-$20
When Mighty upgraded its sound system last month, it put more into motion than just a sonic upgrade. The powerful setup has attracted a new group of promoters eager to have their favorite DJs take a turn behind the decks. This week sees the nomadic and house-oriented Sound Department take over the venue for a night spent with two greats. First up is Matthew Dekay, a Dutchman whose progressive and orchestral style of tech-house hit a zenith with last year's soaring hit "Für Die Liebe," recorded with Lee Burridge. Co-headlining is Silicone Soul, the similarly tech-y Scottish duo who've been a big-room mainstay since the release of their disco-fueled 1999 anthem, "Right on 4 tha Darkness."
Lights Down Low presents Wolf + Lamb, Soul Clap, and PillowTalk at Mezzanine
9 p.m. Saturday, May 11. $10-$20
The new school of East Coast house music has arrived, and it's defined by a sound that's smooth, loop-heavy, and crooning. Central to the scene are the connected duos and labels of Wolf + Lamb (check out their XLR8R podcast) in New York and Soul Clap (listen to "Lonely C") in Boston. The two of them have carved out a space that's distinctly American, while also appealing to the voracious dancefloors of Europe. Having both together at one party is a big deal, but Lights Down Low has made the night even sweeter by locking in a performance by once-local futuristic soul crooners PillowTalk (listen to "The Come Back"7).