January 29, 2011
In just one year, Icee Hot has become the go-to party for dance music in S.F. Bringing through numerous label bosses and fast-rising producers (Nzugunzugu, Kyle Hall, Girl Unit, Brenmar, Jamie XX) along with a dearth of other mainstays, you'd be hard pressed to find another party that consistently features acts as quality as Icee Hot's. So it's fittng that party organizers decided to celebrate their first anniversary with one of the more forward-thinking and influential electronic musicians out there: Kode9.
The Hyperdub label chief has not only made waves with his own releases, but also by releasing seminal works from Burial, Joker, Cooly G, The Bug, Darkstar, and Zomby, amonng others. But enough with this hero worship, what about the show?
Well, on Saturday night, Icee Hot took a break from its usual 222 Hyde home and turned the Mission's SOM Bar into a jam-packed sweatbox. Icee Hot residents Rollie Fingers, Ghosts on Tape, and Shawn Reynaldo got the party going into high gear with their usual mix of house, R&B, 2-step, and other future-y sounds. It's one of the few parties around where you'll hear The-Dream thrown in the middle of a bunch of UK bass/garage tracks like it's no big thing.
At around 12:15, when the place was more or less stuffed full with people, Lazer Sword's Low Limit hit the ones and twos, throwing together a set of heavy, heavy dubstep, tribal and 2-step tracks. Sprinkled in between were selections from the likes of James Blake and Roska. Meanwhile, the temperature inside SOM rose to a point where it became clear that a fair number of people had opted against wearing deodorant that night, which was unfortunate, but better than the party being dead.
By 1:15, Kode9 was ready to step up, and the party was showing no signs of slowing down, evidenced by the ever-increasing steaminess in the room. If you've ever been to any of Kode9's other S.F. appearances in the past, you know his sets can be punishing and unrelenting with the low end frequencies (and I mean this as a high complement). While Kode9 generally aims to inspire fear and dread in those listening to his music -- he did give a lecture last year at the Gray Area Foundation on sonic warfare, after all -- the man also knew that the crowd at this party came to dance. And on this night he didn't disappont.
Kode9 kicked off his set with Nate Dogg and Warren G's "Regulate," which was almost as unexpected as it was awesome. Then he shifted into a wall of sound that you'd expect to hear from the man before seamlessly transitioning into a dreamy-sounding 2-step track that was a polar opposite from the prior track. From there, he settled into a run of UK heavy tracks that ranged from garage, to grime, to tribal, to funky, to dubstep. Whether he was spinning his own tracks (The Partial Eclipse remix of "Black Sun"), dropping crowd favorites like Girl Unit's "Wut," returning to his always-reliable edit of Bone Thugs n Harmony's "Thuggish Ruggish Bone," or tossing a few curveballs in, such as Little Louie Vega, he kept the party going well past 2 a.m.
All in all, Icee Hot threw a pretty good first birthday party, and if the next year is as good as the first, you'll regret missing even one of these monthly gatherings.
King of the dancefloor: To the guy who jumpdanced his way through the majority of Kode9's set with a jacket on, only to somehow end up shirtless at the end of the night: respect. So much fucking respect.
Bathroom appreciation: Club owners should never underestimate the power of a nice bathroom. Case in point: on Saturday night, one person declared the sink in SOM's men's room to be a "work of art." Admittedly, it's a pretty nice sink.
Next best alternative: Hopefully 222 Hyde works out its issues with the S.F. Fire Marshall, which has led to multiple shows being moved or cancelled there, because the basement feel of that venue suits the Icee Hot party too well. But if it has to move somewhere else, SOM isn't a half bad venue for this party either, as the soundsystem is plenty powerful and the venue is just the right size to keep the energy of the party up.