The Top Five Parties in San Francisco This Weekend
There's a certain euphoria that comes with Thursday morning. It's all about anticipation: with the bulk of the week lalready handled, the mind begins to wander towards the leisure potential of Friday and Saturday. Trust us when we say, we know that feeling. So to assist you in your workday daydreaming, we assembled this handy list of parties (with, wouldn't you know it, a Thursday night event). So, read on -- your weekend awaits.
Dirtybird plays at Mezzanine on Friday.
Dirtybird Players with Claude VonStroke, Justin Martin, Leroy Peppers, Kill Frenzy, J. Phlip, and Worthy at Mezzanine
Friday, May 17. 9 p.m. $5-$20
Over the past 20 years, Ibiza -- a speck in the Balearic Sea known as "The White Island" -- has become the commercial center of the global dance music community. Every summer, its super-clubs are flooded by Europeans who come to hear some of the biggest DJs in the world. The island's popularity has turned it into a kind of weather vane, where what happens there is usually indicative of broader trends. So it's exciting news that San Francisco label Dirtybird has teamed up with the Sankeys club franchise to throw a weekly Thursday party on Ibiza for the entire summer.
No other dance music label in San Francisco enjoys such a widespread and dedicated fan base. Dirtybird was co-founded by local DJs Claude VonStroke (aka Barclay Crenshaw), Christian Martin, Justin Martin, and Worthy (aka Sean Williams) in 2003, first as a barbecue party in Golden Gate Park, and later as a record label. Since those days, its club-tuned singles have offered an unpretentious and sometimes tongue-in-cheek take on house that feels like a natural outgrowth of the city's laid-back but rave-friendly vibe (Check out Claude VonStroke's "The Whistler," Justin Martin's "Ruff Stuff," and this sampler). But while Dirtybird has managed to once again put San Francisco on the global dance music radar, the crew has also reinvigorated the local scene with all-day outdoor events and wild, sweat-drenched quarterly parties at Mezzanine, one of which is happening this Friday.
Part of the label's success comes from its ability to re-create that fun and freewheeling atmosphere elsewhere. The Dirtybird crew has performed regularly in Europe, while also maintaining a presence in the American festival scene, which puts it in a unique position: It's able to court the EDM crowd while still appealing to the dance music diehards. "Our hope would be that we are where you end up once you're tired of being beaten down by the noise," Crenshaw told Mixmag. "We're hoping you end up at Dirtybird after you're, say, 16, and you've listened to all the cheesy stuff and you're ready to slow down a little bit." Judging from the local label's continuing popularity, that's been happening for some time. And the crew's Ibiza residency this summer ought to earn them plenty of converts.
"Forward-thinking dance music" is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it mean? Many use the phrase to refer to young producers who are unafraid to mix and match elements from disparate genres both new and old. See: Kastle, the local whiz whose tracks package American R&B and trap with a club-ready sensibility indebted to the complex rhythms of UK bass (check out "Stay Forever" and "Technique"). You'll get a solid dose of the future when he performs his music live alongside like-minded Londoner xxxy (check out his fairly recent Boiler Room appearance).
Download an app, download a song -- there's not much difference. So it's not too surprising that the two have become increasingly intertwined. Boreta (aka Justin Boreta) is an app developer and music producer who's also a member of bass-heavy L.A. trio Glitch Mob. And it's because of him that the group released an iOS app the same year as its debut LP, Drink the Sea. Mirrorgram lets users create and share kaleidoscopic images from their phone -- and much like Glitch Mob's music, it's surreal and creative while still remaining populist in its appeal. Obviously a man of creative mind, Boreta is the top name at Get Freaky, 1015 Folsom's recurring exploration of the far corners of hip-hop, bass, and trap.
Admit it: You're secretly nostalgic for the days of pancake makeup, Robert Smith hair, and goths. And hey, you're not alone. Recent years have seen the arrival of a number of parties exploring the darker side of club culture, one of which is Dark Room. It's a queer (but straight-friendly) monthly that transforms Cafe Du Nord into a bleak environment with drag shows, gothy DJ sets, and live performances from a host of new practitioners. This month the party welcomes Uncanny Valley (check out "Rising" and this live video), the Oakland-based industrial provocateurs whose sound recalls spikey '80s groups like Chris & Cosey.
Frankfurt might be the financial capital of Germany, but it also knows how to party. The city has been a hotspot for electronic dance music since the '80s, and in recent years it's enjoyed a reputation as a major player in the European house scene. The city's particular sound is best exemplified by the releases of Running Back, the long-standing label helmed by Gerd Janson. Frankfurt's take on house is restrained, well-produced, and carefully considered -- pulling liberally from the past while incorporating the techniques of the present. That's also a good way of thinking about Janson himself, who'll be performing in San Francisco for the first time this Saturday (check out this mix recorded at Frankfurt clubbing institution Robert Johnson).