The past week has been a fairly wild ride for fans of electronic dance music. A Rolling Stone cover story about and subsequent blog post by Deadmau5 have both opened up a Pandora's Box of questions within the echo chamber of the blogosphere. Are technical DJ chops relevant? Has the producer supplanted the DJ? (didn't they do that a long time ago?) What about the commercialization of dance music and complacency among consumers? Also, unbelievably, somewhere along the way Paris Hilton demonstrated why technology hasn't freed DJs from paying their dues. We know, it's enough to get your head spinning. And to keep it that way, we put together this monolith of a party round-up. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
Thursday, June 28
When: 8 p.m. - 3 a.m.
Why: There's hardly a better poster child for the current state of dance music's mainstream crossover than 22-year-old Swedish DJ Avicii. Coming up in the mega club circuit, in 2011 he managed to score a commercial hit with "Levels," a poppy club track that's quickly become a part of mass culture in a way similar to The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" and Swedish House Mafia's "Save the World Tonight." With extensive TV licensing, chart-topping radio position, and ubiquitous club play, it's possible many of you probably know it so well that you never want to hear it again. However, those of you curious as to what else Avicii has to offer have two opportunities this evening to catch him: first at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and later at Ruby Skye. Listen to his BBC Essential Mix (with rather interesting audio commentary) from 2010 for a better idea of where he's coming from.
What: Tunneltop #3
Where: Tunnel Top
When: 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Why: Have you ever wanted to hang out with the glamorous people behind Lost in the Night? No? Well, here's your opportunity anyway, as Avalon Emerson and I will be DJing together this evening at Tunnel Top. As with most of the parties I'm involved with these days, this one has no door charge and is more about the music than anything else. It's a laidback space with stiff drinks, a unique location on top of the Stockton tunnel, and an upstairs loft area for dancing or relaxing (depending on how things go). A revived buzzword that seems to be floating around the Internet these days is "horizontal house": think something like that, but with the occasional energy spike for good measure. Drop by, grab a drink, and say hello.
Friday, June 29
Where: Public Works
When: 9 p.m. - late
Why: Just when you thought As You Like It ran out of ways to outdo itself, the crew is back with another party for the books. Things start off early this time, with a premiere showing, at 9 p.m., of Amélie Ravalec's new documentary "Paris/Berlin: 20 Years of Underground Techno." It's a full hour's worth of a spotlight on the darker side of dance music that features interviews with such mind-blowing artists as Laurent Garnier, Ancient Methods, and Adam-X. Following the screening, the music will step out and inhabit the room, with a showcase on the seriously techno Sandwell District imprint. With DJ sets by label favorites Function and Silent Servant, as well as a live performance by Rrose, it'll be an evening of alien melodies and tough percussion (get a taste by listening to this recent Silent Servant Boiler Room mix). And, if it ever gets too intense, you can go upstairs and bounce around to the music of Mark E, the DJ/producer behind such classic re-edits and house-tinged works as "R+B Drunkie," "Call Me," and "Oranges."
Where: Elbo Room
When: 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Why: It's really a shame that Sweater Funk is still exiled from its original Sunday night home at the Li Po Lounge. Yet, while there was a certain charm to the grimy Chinatown basement, it seems as though the party is doing better than ever. This month, the boogie crew is taking over the Elbo Room to host Mark Grusane and Mike Cole of Chicago's revered Mr. Peabody Records. A little shop tucked away on the south side of the city, it's one of the meccas for collectors of black music. As you might imagine, bringing out two DJs from the store pretty much ensures an evening spent in the presence of an obscure and amazing collection of records. Preview the party further by listening to the Mr. Peabody radio show or, if you're so inclined, look into "The Real Sound of Chicago & Beyond," its excellent compilation on BBE.
What: Galaxy Radio
Where: Underground SF
When: 10 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Why: What ever happened to Italo-disco? That most excellent of cheese genres enjoyed a brief intense moment in the late-'00s, but somehow faded back to a support role in recent years. Sure, many good DJs play a track here or there, but there really aren't too many nights dedicated to exploring an evening's worth of the stuff. Enter Galaxy Radio, a new party crew that promises "a space-dance experience that will transport you out of this world through hot house, Italo, and space-funk jamz." Okay, so maybe not entirely Italo based either, but at least it's in the description. Get pumped on the party with this promo mix by SMAC, one of the party's residents.
Saturday, June 30
Where: Club Six
When: 9 p.m. - 4 a.m.
Why: With this column's usual focus on electronic dance music, it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of all the other facets of the city's nightlife. Reggae music is, of course, a big part of Bay Area dance culture. And on Saturday, music event crew DeeCee's Soul Shakedown is celebrating nine years in the business with a party featuring 12 Bay Area reggae promoters. It all revolves around a live music showcase on the club's main stage, featuring such artists as The Servants, Cornerstone, Junior Toots, and Soulmedic. Meanwhile, the rest of the club will be going up in smoke with fiery sets (plus many rewinds) by selectors from the Bay and beyond.
Where: Public Works OddJob Loft
When: 10 p.m. - 3 a.m.
Why: Techno's the kind of music that seems to come in waves of innovation. As such, the music of Robert Hood is often considered a defining feature of Detroit's second wave. An integral figure in the Underground Resistance label, Hood took the sound's wiggling maximalism and reduced it to a skeleton. The result of his experiments would ultimately birth the sound today referred to as minimal, a fact that seems in no small part due to his 1994 LP Minimal Nation. And, while the term might have since become unfashionable (the '00s saw it boom and bust into a million bloopy fragments), Hood has managed to remain fresh by staying true to the drive and grit that characterized his sound in the first place. Check out classics like "The Pace" and "Wandering Endlessly" as well as "We Magnify His Name" from Floorplan, his recently revived house alias. Now Hood's on his way to Public Works' OddJob Loft to headline Icee Hot. Check out this mix, and this week's Signal to Noise, in which Icee Hot resident DJ Ghosts on Tape shares some of his favorite tracks from 2012.
Sunday, July 1
Where: The Holy Cow
When: 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Why: You either have to be a ballsy DJ or a left-leaning Frenchman to get away with playing the Socialist anthem "L'Internationale" in a club. As it turns out, Ivan Smagghe happens to be both both of those things and he isn't shy about his political leanings, either. Coming up in the late-'90s, he first came into the spotlight through Black Strobe, the influential electroclash group he started with producer Arnaud Rebotini in 1997. As a DJ he has an adventurous style that plays with the boundaries of pop sensibility while still exploring territory that might as well be way out in left field. Check out his classic Suck My Deck mix from 2004 and head to Honey Soundsystem, this Sunday to hear him stretch out over the course of a two-and-a-half-hour set.