The Top Five Parties in San Francisco This Weekend
It's almost the Fourth of July, which accounts for this week's early edition (we don't know about you, but we wont be anywhere near a computer tomorrow). The next few days are going to be hectic, so, to help you hail this fine 'Merican country, we've provided a handy list of mildly patriotic parties. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
Goldie plays at 1015 Folsom this Friday.
"The sound of the north is sweeping the state -- and the world. Blessed with an inherent spirituality, the S.F. scene is abuzz with unified creativity and a global sense of purpose. Los Angeles gave birth, but San Francisco may be the new mecca. Let the drums begin." This is the caption beneath a photo of a moonlit beachside party recently posted to the Facebook page of seminal S.F rave group Wicked Sound System. It refers to an exuberant San Francisco, just on the cusp of the rave years. Back then, in the '80s and '90s, the city was cheap and still had its countercultural edge (a byproduct of years spent under the influence of radical thinking and psychedelic chemicals). That version of S.F. is gone, but there's still evidence of the old ways if you know where to look. One such place is Mighty this Saturday, where the DJs of Wicked will reconvene to celebrate 22 years of raving.
The significance of Wicked Sound System to local dance music is hard to overstate. First appearing in San Francisco in 1991, it helped introduce the concept of a rave to the then club-centric Bay Area nightlife scene. The DJs behind Wicked -- Garth Wynne-Jones, Jeno Lock, Mark "Markie" Rowley, and Thomas Bullock -- all hail from the U.K., and found their way to California shortly after witnessing the initial birth of rave culture via the acid house- and Ecstasy-fueled warehouse parties that appeared during England's weirdly hot summers of '88 and '89.
They brought that spirit to the West Coast, throwing all-night raves in honor of the full moon on Baker Beach and up and down the central coast. Though they're from foreign soil, there's something classically San Francisco about the crew's DIY attitude toward partying. Garth Wynne-Jones explains it thus: "Wicked filled a void. In 1991 the city was still reeling from the devastation of AIDS," he remembers. "I see us in a long relay race, that started in the gold rush with the 49ers, jazz, the beatniks, the hippies, the gays (disco), industrial rockers, then Wicked (acid house), and all its bastard progeny!"
To hear the Wicked DJs play is to get a musical education that not only makes connections between disparate genres (think break-heavy U.K. joints, sparkling Italian disco, and rumbling Jamaican dub), but also looks at the larger narrative of dance music from a local vantage. And while there are other crews still going from the same time period, few continue to do it with Wicked's brand of charisma and idiosyncratic style, two qualities that should be obvious when it takes over Mighty this weekend. The city's most free-spirited days may be over, but Wicked still remains. Check out this mix of DJ Jeno live at the party back in 1994.
Bass music continues to be a dominant aspect of San Francisco club life in 2013. This week you can get your fix of the hyperactive sound at Lights Down Low's Fourth of July party, which puts the spotlight on the L.A.-based Body High imprint. There you can catch sets by rising stars Samo Sound Boy (check out his Boiler Room set), Jerome LOL, and DJ Funeral.
The only thing that beats a free party is a free party with huge guests. This Friday, 1015 Folsom continues its jaw-dropping series of no-cover events with a blowout headlined by old-school drum 'n' bass pioneer Goldie (stream his classic debut LP Timeless). Support comes by way of Canadian beatmaker Ryan Hemsworth, L.A. bass wiz Groundislava, and a full roster of noteworthy locals.
Snobs might gripe about the lack of innovation in tech house, but it's hard to deny the sound's club-ready appeal. Don't believe us? Head to Public Works this Saturday for a primer in contemporary dancefloor sex-appeal, courtesy of Laura Jones and Matt Tolfrey, two globe-trotting selectors signed to U.K. label (and Ibiza mainstay) Leftroom. Stream this mix of them DJing together in the Mixmag DJ Lab.
After a bleak period of questionable bookings, the EndUp is back on the rise. The city's only legal 24-hour venue has found its lost voice with the help of Play, a new party that fills the club with a mix of cutting-edge sounds and old-school favorites. One example is this month's party with revered techno heads Joel Mull and Luke Hess (listen to this recent mix).