Each year, As You Like It throws a free day party in Golden Gate Park — a kind of "thank you" to fans and supporters. Each year, the lineup features a diverse selection of mostly local DJs, spinning daytime-appropriate tunes to a pack of revelers in our city's largest park.
This time around, Oakland veteran selector David Harness heads the lineup. Harness has been DJing for decades, all over the Bay Area and beyond. He's a classic house DJ, pairing vintage disco-flavored funky cuts with newer, contemporary deep house — perfect fodder for daytime dancing.
The real treat here, though, is David Siska, a Chicago-to-SF transplant who has also been DJing since the '90s. Siska's taste is broad, but his DJ sets hone in on a specific emotional center in which the futuristic, cybernetic melodies of Detroit and U.K. techno blend seamlessly with the cool, dusty grooves of dubby deep house.
Upstart artist R. Fentz joins old-school raver Rob Monroy on support, with an unknown LA-based guest also making an appearance.
Other worthy parties this week
Robot Ears presents SNTS at F8, 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, Aug. 12. $8-$20; feightsf.com
You know what they say: It's not techno if they don't wear a mask. Alright, that's not quite how it goes, but given the vast proliferation of techno artists in the recent past who carefully obscure their visages, it's easy to get confused. The mysterious artist SNTS goes a bit overboard with the hooded, masked schtick, but no matter: His music is the real deal. It's dark, brooding, murky stuff; tight techno grooves paired with just enough atmospheric gloom.
Direct To Earth & Shuffle Co-Op present Oskar Offermann at Monarch, 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, Aug. 12. $15-$20; monarchsf.com
Shuffle Co-Op's been on a roll lately, bringing several lesser-known but seriously talented European DJs and producers to San Francisco. Their latest, in collaboration with Direct To Earth, features Frankfurt's Oskar Offermann, an understated artist who has, since 2008, released a slew of elementally groovy, well-balanced deep house records. His DJ sets (here solo, but often in collaboration with Giegling mainstay Edward) offer up the same vibe, selecting the finest in contemporary deep house.
Rhythm Control with Rafaello & Palermo at Amnesia, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 13. $5; amnesiathebar.com
Rhythm Control is a new-ish monthly party at Amnesia, the recently renovated Valencia St. bar and mini-club. Saturday's party is their first featuring guests: trans-Pacific duo Rafaello & Palermo. Rafaello is Shanghai-based producer Raphaël Valensi, inexplicably also known as Laura Ingalls (male producers using female pseudonyms: Why?), while Palermo is former SFer Damon Palermo, aka Magic Touch. Their first record together on NYC label Let's Play House features heavy-hitting disco-inspired deep house. They'll bring similar sounds to Amnesia's intimate dancefloor.
9 Years of WERD. at Monarch, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 14. $5-$10; monarchsf.com
Nine years ago, co-founders Nick Williams and Brandon Wade launched a little Sunday night weekly party they called WERD. It lived most of its life at Otis Lounge, the now-defunct bi-level spot on Maiden Lane; afterward, it moved to Monarch, where it has flourished since. Sunday's party marks their ninth anniversary. Expect funky house- and disco-centric DJ sets from the residents (Zoz, Jimmy B, Woo, Kimmy Le Funk, and Rachel Torro), plus whichever special guests are on deck.
Notable Local Records
Smoking by Tino Drima; Gaylord's Party Music
Eight months in, writing this review column has revealed to me a broader, more diverse swath of music made in the Bay Area than I could ever have imagined. Smoking, a short-but-sweet EP from Oakland six-piece band Tino Drima, is the latest in a string of welcome musical surprises, a gloriously catchy, charmingly retro, and unexpectedly surreal slice of neo-soul rhythm and blues.
Tino Drima call themselves "psych doo-wop hell croon," as good a description as any. Roughly speaking, they sound like a rock band making slow jams, or a doo-wop outfit with a ragged rock edge.
Doo-wop isn't usually my thing. But listening to Smoking makes me feel weird. (That's a good thing.) There's a particularly unsettling scene in David Lynch's Inland Empire where Justin Theroux stumbles through a darkened house filled with strange women shining flashlights at him, soundtracked by a moody, deadly croon called "Ghost of Love," performed by Lynch himself. Listening to Smoking feels like being in that scene.
Like in Lynch's films, there's a healthy amount of kitsch deployed in Tino Drima's music. But again, just like Lynch, kitsch is subversion for Tino Drima, a means of turning things topsy-turvy, of surfacing what lies beneath. There's a palpable, potent sense of loss and despair lurking within this EP's otherwise cheerful musical façade.
The only problem: It's too short. Hopefully, more will come soon.
Inter by Burnet207; Jacktone Records
It's hard to believe, but concept albums come few and far between in electronic music. However, Inter, the debut album from Oakland-based producer Burnet207, is about as conceptual as it gets, featuring 20 tracks, 10 per side, all of which are clocked at identical beats per minute and track length (2:24 to be precise — three remixes excepted).
My immediate reaction upon first listen: Oh, this sounds like Drexciya or Kraftwerk. (Which is about as fine an initial reaction as one could ask for, as most seasoned techno fans would concur.) Inter possesses an elemental simplicity in its sound design that places it firmly within the pantheon of these archetypical techno greats.
Inter won't change your life like Drexciya or Kraftwerk will, but it is a truly fascinating listen. The record plods along at 134 bpm. Each track dissolves into the ether after an identical number of measures. The overall effect is like zooming along a grid at a rapid clip, watching the grid's shape change at fixed intervals. The spirit of Tron clearly weighs heavily on this record.
Because of Inter's conceptual and performative rigor, it lacks in many things: hooks, stand-out tunes, club tracks. The flip side of that coin is that Inter possesses a self-assuredness (and purity of intent) that many artists spend years chasing after.
Inter is certainly not for everyone, but there's definitely nothing else like it.