The Top Five Parties in San Francisco This Weekend
Burning Man is over, the bridge is back online, and... who are we kidding? -- you don't need an excuse to go out and hit the clubs. But just in case you do, we've got a couple good ones in this top five party round up. This week's list covers some pretty obscure events, with strange delights such as dubstep-informed disco music, Belgian new beat, and even a silent rave. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
Skream plays Mezzanine on Saturday.
With its central location in Europe, Belgium has long been an integral player in the development of electronic dance music. Its output over the years, though less voluminous than its neighbors, has been an important part of the transatlantic conversation. Belgium's notable years began with Front 242, an '80s band whose aggressive and futuristic "electronic body music" was a formative influence on the American creators of Chicago house and Detroit techno. Then, in the late '80s, a novel, slowed-down style called "new beat" emerged from the nation's clubs and briefly took over the world via Technotronic's anthemic hit "Pump Up the Jam."
Despite the sound's commercial success, there were countercultural undercurrents to it. It was a patchwork, a jumble of samples of new sounds flooding in from America and the rest of Europe. It's this dimension that can be heard in the DJ mixes, edits, and radio broadcasts of Brussels-based radio DJ Athome, a spinner with wide-reaching tastes that all seem to converge around old-school new beat.
New beat arrived in Belgium in the mid-'80s as a domestic response to the foreign imports in the nation's industrial-leaning nightclubs. DJs, armed with samplers, began to create original works of creative appropriation (like Fruit of Life's "Not Afraid to Dance") comprised almost entirely of elements lifted from other tracks: the percussive belches from Yello's "Oh Yeah," the stabs from Inner City's "Big Fun," and even the iconic break from Lyn Collins' "Think." Then, most importantly, they began to slow their records down, playing in clubs with the pitch control on the lowest danceable setting, giving the music its characteristic slow-burn.
This style is best heard in a mix, which Athome demonstrated earlier this year when he recorded "Mixtape Athome," the 175th installment in Honey Soundsystem's "Honey Potcast" mix series. In it, Athome effortlessly burns through a set of tracks that connect '80s new beat, its many influences, and the various sounds today that closely resemble it. His tape may not have been intended to be illustrative, but it's an excellent education in one of electronic dance music's lesser-known forms. Expect him to do something similar live -- and thus another thought-provoking and body moving experience at San Francisco's best Sunday night party, Honey Soundsystem.
Smoke N' Mirrors presents Monika Kruse at Monarch
9:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6. $10-$20
Berlin is flooded with DJs -- so many that it can be difficult for some artists to get noticed. Not so for Monika Kruse, a Berlin-born producer whose studiously concocted tech-house (as can be heard on last year's clubby Traces LP), strong mixes, and long presence in the German nightlife industry have made her an insider's favorite.
Lights Down Low presents Skream at Mezzanine
9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7. $18-$22
Skream may have been one of the original U.K. dubstep producers, but his sound has long since moved on. Throughout the '00s, his music -- such as on "Midnight Request Line" -- explored weedy post-apocalyptic soundscapes full of dread (in both the emotional and Jamaican sense of the word). Now he's all clubbed-out, with a new style that relies on a dancefloor-friendly fusion of American disco, European house, and old-fashioned techno. Check out his recent live mix from the MixMag DJ Lab.
Ryan Crosson at Public Works
9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7. $10-$20
Tech house is red hot at the moment, and one of its biggest names is Ryan Crosson. A producer from Detroit, he's an integral member in the Visionquest collective, a label and DJ crew that also counts Seth Troxler and Lee Curtiss as members. His DJ sets, like his productions, are loopy, sensual, and psychedelic -- made for altered states and dancing over the long haul. Hear his live mix recorded earlier this year at a club in Italy.
Hush Fest at Treasure Island Great Lawn
1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8. $20
This Sunday offers an opportunity to liberate yourself from the confines of traditional nightlife. The event is Hush Fest, a "silent disco" festival where the only way to hear the music is to don a pair of headphones. A quick trip across the bridge and you'll be able to dance alfresco on Treasure Island's scenic Great Lawn to big-name DJs like NY hip-hop party starter Nickodemus and Dirtybird co-founder Justin Martin.