Ben UFO is no stranger to this column. He's been featured before, and he'll likely be featured again. He's simply one of the world's finest DJs, a "DJ's DJ," a silly term that's essentially shorthand for "a prototypical music nerd other music nerds aspire to be." He's also responsible for launching one of the most important and groundbreaking record labels of the last decade, Hessle Audio, which — in the span of about eight years and over 30 records — caused something of a paradigm shift within underground electronic music, in much the same way that its institutional forebear, Warp Records, did in the mid-to-late '90s.
This Friday, he's playing an all-night back-to-back DJ set with Joy Orbison, another young Briton whose handful of productions have had a similarly outsized impact. Joy Orbison's small discography is the epitome of "quality over quantity" — he doesn't release records often, but when he does, everyone in electronic music pays attention. His career began when the dubstep craze was at its height in the U.K., and his early productions and DJ sets reflect this fact; "Hyph Mngo," his debut, remains one of the most essential 140 bpm tunes ever written. He's since gone off in his own direction, working in the U.K. garage-slash-Chicago-house-revival continuum, but lately he's responsible for some harder-edged techno tracks, working in collaboration with fellow U.K. basshead Boddika.
It's no exaggeration to say that when these two pair up, they'll likely put together one of the best DJ sets this year. Both of them know how to work a dancefloor inside and out, and both are seasoned veterans of the back-to-back set, creating a unique energy as the artists play off of each other. If that's not enough, the Public Works Loft will feature a live performance from NYC psychedelic techno fanatics Blondes, whose long-form, spaced-out techno workouts will bring a dynamic energy to the upstairs. As You Like It residents Mossmoss and Sassmouth will be going back-to-back upstairs, too, and Honey Soundsystem's Jason Kendig is on board to close the night out. In short, this night is not to be missed.
Other worthy parties this week
Parameter presents Instance 03 featuring Pangaea (Extended Set) at F8, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 22. $15-$20; feightsf.com
Two Hessle Audio co-founders happen to be DJing in the city this weekend — Ben UFO (mentioned above) and Pangaea, with the third (Pearson Sound) coming back to our city this September. Of the Hessle crew, Pangaea is the most inscrutable. Whether by design or not, Pangaea hasn't received quite the media attention that his other Hessle partners have. And unlike his partners, Pangaea has slid further and further down the techno rabbit-hole — his latest 12-inches, and last year's excellent mix CD for Fabric, show Pangaea shedding his dubstep past to focus on harder four-to-the-floor rhythms. Of course, Pangaea's version of techno is a world apart from more straightforward machine-music sounds: it incorporates atmospheres and rhythms from U.K. bass music, grime, and more, weaving a web between these disparate-but-connected genres. What's more, Pangaea's playing an all-night extended set from open to close, so expect a proper kitchen sink-style DJ set.
Haçeteria presents Bobby B at Underground SF, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 22. $5 before 11 p.m., $8 after; undergroundsf.com
About five years ago, when San Francisco was slightly less inhospitable to working artists and musicians than it is now, a little night called Hacienda SF launched at a (now defunct) gay bar, The Deco Lounge, on the edge of the Tenderloin. After a cease-and-desist courtesy of Peter Hook, they rebranded as Haçeteria, and for a couple short years, it was the place to hear locally brewed electronic music. To tell you the truth, these small, intimate gigs with bedroom producers were often a lot more interesting than top-dollar productions at big clubs. These days, the small parties have mostly wound down, but they're making a comeback this weekend to host the return of Bobby B, a former SF artist now based in New York. His live performance is simply one of the best, using an array of vintage gear to knock together slammin' old-school-but-not house rhythms. Haç's resident DJs will support before and after.
Lights Down Low presents Evian Christ at Monarch, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 10. $15-$20; monarchsf.com
Lights Down Low, who have been hosting events and throwing parties in San Francisco for more than 9 years, have spent the first half of 2015 becoming more and more comfortable pushing the boundaries of their own bookings, and their latest shindig, featuring young U.K. producer Evian Christ, is proof of that. For those unfamiliar, Evian Christ is affiliated with notable buzzy Brooklyn record label Tri Angle, which launched in 2010 and shortly thereafter became synonymous with "witch house," although the label's range is certainly larger. Evian Christ's early productions were in this vein — brooding, atmospheric hip-hop — but his latest work focuses on the rhythms of his native England, incorporating chopped-up grime-style beats. On support duty is Marco de la Vega of 120 MINUTES, one of the first parties in the city to blur the lines between hip-hop and brooding, goth-y music.
Bodyshock presents Cut Hands, DHS, and Only Now at Elbo Room, 9:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 21. $12-$15; elbo.com
What do we have here? Just a few British techno and industrial music giants getting together for a cozy gig. Between the three masters at work here, there's close to a century's worth of combined experience producing left-field music. Cut Hands is the latest effort from William Bennett, aka the original industrial-noise terrorist (look up his first project, Whitehouse, on YouTube for some joyous aural torture), and — momentarily pushing aside valid appropriation concerns in regards to its nebulous Afro-Caribbean aesthetic — Cut Hands is his most exciting work yet, in which percussion of all sorts takes center stage. DHS, or Dimensional Holofonic Sound, is the work of Ben Stokes, who produced one of the most well-known techno tracks of all time, "House of God," in 1990. He's joined on stage by Jack Dangers, or Meat Beat Manifesto, an early industrial pioneer who injected funk and breakbeats into the genre. Local act Only Now will support with experimental percussive rhythms.