The Top Five Parties in San Francisco This Weekend
As sure as the world turns, so too do the days roll by. We're not sure how to connect that last sentence with this one, but who cares? It's Thursday, which means it's time to start thinking about what to get into this weekend. To aid you in your never ending search for a good time, we've assembled this handy guide, which this week features a full roster of badass parties: There's some top-flight minimal techno, a little bit of tech-house, and even an opportunity to hear some truly excellent psychedelic music from the '60s. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
Benoit & Sergio play at Monarch on Saturday.
Collaborating from Washington, D.C., and Berlin, Benoit & Sergio are a duo who've long defined themselves as operating from a space between. This applies to more than just the distance of its members' hometowns: The music that Benoit Simon and Benjamin "Sergio" Myers make is a hybrid that draws as much from recent dancefloor trends as it does the lyrically dense songcraft of '80s pop heroes like Paul Simon and David Byrne. Such a combination makes the style of their output difficult to classify. However, in recent years, a number of journalists, as well as the two themselves, have resorted to utilizing the catch-all signifier of "tech-house," a confusing tag that speaks to the hybridity at the root of their aesthetic.
In the contemporary use of the word, tech-house has become shorthand for a style of slick, high-fidelity dance music often associated with underground labels like Crosstown Rebels, Culprit, and Visionquest. Artists in this vein often share similar production habits, which rely on plunking bass lines, loopy percussion, rushing white noise risers, and, perhaps most importantly, very present vocals that are usually spoken or chanted instead of sung. In the simplest expression possible, it's house music, but with a colder synthetic edge borrowed from the futuristic ethos of techno.
Benoit & Sergio epitomize this school of thought. They're rooted in the new school, and they take advantage of the vocal dimension of the form to craft anthems that manage to retain a distinctive literary sense while hitting hard on the dancefloor. "I feel like if we're going to use words, they might as well tell a story," Myers told Dialogue Incorporated. "There needs to be some hook to the words, the same way there's a hook to the music. Part of the hook to the words is a story or some sort of narrative."
It's easy to understand what he means. Benoit & Sergio tracks feature meandering, yet strangely memorable ruminations that are atypical of your usual club sounds. "Walk and Talk," the group's breakout single from 2011, was a lament of the effects of ketamine on a relationship, with the unlikely sing-along-inducing verse of "My baby does K all day/She doesn't wash her hair, doesn't wash her clothes/Just sits on the couch watching television shows." On "Adjustments," their latest, they lock in a melancholy groove and take aim at the self-importance of DJ culture: "Sometimes I think that DJs don't understand/That we've been waiting around all week for this." Expect them to keep that close to heart when they perform at Monarch this Saturday.
120 Minutes presents: DJ Nate at Elbo Room
10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24. $10
Though it's known for birthing house, Chicago is also the hometown of juke, a style of heavily swung, house-indebted dance music that moves in the upper extremes of tempo. Its rise has coincided with its associated dance "footwork," which can best be thought of as breakdancing on speed (and energy drinks). Juke artists rarely perform in San Francisco, which makes the appearance of DJ Nate, a Chi-Town favorite, an experience worth having. Though it's probably also worth mentioning that his recent stuff has slanted towards hip-hop. Listen to "Gucci Goggles" for an idea of what he's been up to lately.
Rock 'n' Roll Workshop with Tony the Tyger at Make-Out Room,
6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24. Free
We don't normally write about happy hours, but in the case of Tony the Tyger, we'll make an exception. He's a legend of the Los Angeles mod scene whose impeccable taste in rare '60s psych and garage rock is echoed in his long-running "Fuzz, Flaykes, & Shakes" compilation series (which "you can stream for free on Youtube).
Professional Fans presents Jessy Lanza at Amnesia
9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. $10
Canadian artist Jessy Lanza strikes a fine balance between '90s R&B nostalgia and the leading edge of electronic music. Her debut, Pull My Hair Back, released last year on U.K. imprint Hyperdub, found a way to incorporate the two with a downtempo coolness that's heightened by the smooth contours of Lanza's voice. Listen to "Kathy Lee," the lead single off her new LP.
As You Like It with Robag Wruhme, andhim, Session Victim at Public Works
9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. $20-$25
Considering Robag Whrume has a mix titled "Wuppdeckmischmamplflow," you might imagine him to be some Platonic ideal of a German techno DJ. This is correct: He's one of the country's most loved DJs, with a melodic and minimalistic style that's as approachable as it is cerebral. The rest of this week's edition of As You Like It keeps things German, with a set by fellow techno-heads andhim (check out this mix for Get Physical) as well as the more house-leaning Session Victim (listen to their Delusions of Grandeur mixtape).