[Too much good stuff last weekend! I couldn't choose just one party to review, so here's a breakdown of the weekend's highlights.]
120 Minutes Presents Chelsea Wolfe
Friday, Sep. 2, 2011
Better than: Death Guild, but probably less authentic.
Vibe: Dark and smoky with lasers dotting the ceiling and creepy projections shot across the walls. I couldn't help but imagine what DNA Lounge must have been like in 1995.
The people: Diverse and disparate: backpacker hip-hop kids, older goths, black-clad hipster girls, and various other weirdos (good weirdos). One of the best aspects of 120 Minutes is that it's a welcoming and nonjudgmental community.
The experience: More reminiscent of a show than a party. People arrived and left based on the set time of headliner Chelsea Wolfe, who easily stole the show with a moody live performance of her retro-gothic material -- imagine a mixture of Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, My Bloody Valentine, and a little bit of Acid King. She was great visually too, taking the stage with a jet-black Gibson SG, full strobe-array (epileptics beware), and tight three-piece backing band.
The sound: Granted, Elbo Room doesn't have the best system in the city, but I've heard the room sound much better. There were moments of deafening overdriven noise during the DJ sets that could have been avoided by more cautious DJing. There was never a moment where it seemed as though the dance floor was really moving. Instead, the crowd preferred to wallflower and discuss the evening as though it were a happening. The most use the dance floor got was from a lone break-dancer, who took advantage of the mostly open space following Chelsea Wolfe's set.
The verdict: Talking with people in the audience, I came away with the impression that this is the kind of party you either love or hate. On one hand, a local DJ friend said he thought the night reminded him of the diversity of the Mission arts scene in 1999. On the other hand, another friend said the night represented, to him, a narcissistic surface reading of Goth and hip-hop (he left pretty quickly after saying that). Either way you slice it though, 120 Minutes is a spectacle worth seeing.
We left around 1:30 a.m. to end our evening with local legend Bus Station John at Public Works for a set of obscure disco cuts mixed the classic way: by feeling and without blends.
No Way Back Presents Mi Ami and Optimo
Public Works OddJob Loft
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Better than: Burning the man.
Vibe: Dark and ravey. Public Works' OddJob loft is an easy contender for best small to mid-sized venue in the city. The No Way Back crew doesn't worry too much about the visual side of the party experience, instead preferring sparse lighting, lone disco balls, and superb dance music.
The people: The floor was packed with dancers by around 11, and was still going when we left at 3:30. Things got so crazy that people were dancing on the subwoofers and fondling the speakers hanging from the ceiling.
The experience: A fantastic party from the moment we got there (at 10) to the moment we left. The local DJs we caught (Conor and Ryan Poulsen) were using all vinyl and mixing records with superb precision. Mi Ami tore the house down with a live set of arty but infectiously rhythmic tracks that brought to mind Suicide and Chicago house. Optimo polished off the night with a long-form set that moved from the deepest sounds of basement house through some zany interludes and into new wave and disco.
The sound: Public Works deserves a lot of praise for its recent upgrade of the sound system in the OddJob loft. What was once an afterthought has become a solid venue in its own right. The upgraded system sounds clear with bass so heavy it vibrates the floor. The only foul point of the night sound-wise came from Optimo member JD Twitch who, as the night progressed, played his tracks way too loud. We actually left at 3:30 because of a particularly piercing blend into MK's "Burning."
The verdict: A great evening and a good follow up to last month's No Way Back with Theo Parrish. If working out on a sweaty dance floor till 4 a.m. sounds like a good time, this is one of your best bets in the city.
Check out more of Kahley Emerson's photos from the party here.
1. Diamond Ft. Wacka Flocka Flame - Hit Dat Hoe
2. Chelsea Wolfe - Demons
3. Tyler, the Creator - French
4. Linda Hopkins - It's in Your Blood
5. Charanga 76 - No Nos Pararan
6. Lionel Hampton - Vibramatic (Joakim Remix)
7. Loui$ - Pink Footpath
8. Mi Ami - Echo
9. Floorplan - We Magnify His Name
10. Kate Bush - Running Up that Hill (Ashley Beedle Edit)
Lost in the Night is a column that follows the adventures of former promoter Derek Opperman as he reviews the shifting world of San Francisco nightlife. If you have a party that you would like covered, email firstname.lastname@example.org.