Taboo presents Brooke Candy and Larry Tee
Friday, Nov. 23, 2012
Better than: An absence of 18+ parties in San Francisco.
I set my Heineken down on the railing, picked up my camera, and took a few quick shots of the crowd below. It was 11 p.m. and things were looking pretty sparse in the main hall at DNA Lounge. Whiteout-inducing plumes of vaporized fog juice and industrial-strength strobes did their part to obscure the fact that only a small crowd had so far arrived. Through the murk, it was obvious that everyone present was still working to acclimate themselves to the hard barrage of NRG being dished out by The Tenderlions. The only person in the room that had reached parity with the music was a clearly over-caffeinated dancer who ran through the club doing wildly uncoordinated parkour moves on every surface available.
There are not a lot of 18+ nights in San Francisco, and to start one outside of the underground is a bold and maybe even noble pursuit. Yet, from the looks of things lately, nobody working in that realm has been able to establish a unified style. Instead, 18+ parties are grab-bags of genre, with wild fluctuations in quality and odd programming. Taboo is a new party at DNA Lounge that epitomizes this "everything and the kitchen sink" approach. Its inaugural affair was all over the place and sparsely attended, but it did have its moments.
"We're gonna get drunk! And we're gonna get down! We're gonna get drugs! And we're gonna get fucked!" Thus blared the speakers as the Tenderlions were imperceptibly replaced by Manics, another electro DJ duo that kept the energy at a constant peak. A group of four girls got on a go-go platform and proceeded to lose themselves in cell phones and boredom. I've been fairly critical in past columns about DJs who play too fast too early: It's supposed to be foreplay. Easing into the hard stuff and maintaining a dialogue tends to result in a better experience for everyone involved.
Meanwhile, the upstairs lounge was open and humming with various house DJs taking turns playing to a ghostly dancefloor. Here the music was more tailored and would ultimately create a small scene of people inexplicably intent on executing real dance steps. Elsewhere, another DJ was banging out a remix of Darude's "Sandstorm" in DNA Lounge's freshly opened third dancefloor. Here people stood in awe as the DJ fistpumped the air amidst a near-blinding array of lasers, strobes, and disco lights. It was too bright, so much so that I think the club might consider handing out epilepsy disclaimers alongside the small photo passes they've begun to give everyone with a camera. Minor negatives aside, the back room is really nicely appointed, in a spartan way. There's a good hardwood floor and the overall feeling is reminiscent of a more visually intense Public Works OddJob Loft.
If the DJing was spotty (maybe best conveyed by the moment Larry Tee played Los del Río's "Macarena"), the night was truly defined by the energy of its live performances. Sadly, I'm still not sure who the opening performer was, but the sheer weirdness of it all more than made up for the two hours spent in the electro terrordome. Three neon drag queens in pink and green got out on the stage and began executing elaborate dances to gritty hip-hop. The MC, wearing a long pink wig and an oversized shirt with a zebra head, began rapping nasally about life in the Tenderloin, growing up in the Children of God, and the "realness" of hallucinogenic drugs. Most memorable quote? "I don't want your applause, I want you to bleed, bastard!"
The strangeness of this performance was immediately met with the jumbled glow of smartphone users jockeying for a better photo-op position. However the strange nature of the show wasn't appreciated by everyone, and the room began emptying while the electro crowd looked for something more uniform. But people or no people, it was fantastic.
This transitioned seamlessly into Brooke Candy's set. A weirdo through and through, she took the stage energetically though she didn't have any backup dancers (which I've been told was a high point of her Halloween show last month). In their place were two guys in leather jackets and shorts who stood in the corner. Wearing full dreadlocks and a bandana-print outfit, Candy bounced around the stage and barked out lines like they were orders. She took off her top and rubbed her breasts around while chanting T-shirt-worthy slogans like "I've got the pussy, pussy makes the rules!" and "Next time they call you a slut, Brooke Candy tells you not to give a fuck!" Airhorn noises and trap snares cut through the room, pulling people down from upstairs and onto the dancefloor. The crowd was as big as it would be all evening, so much so that one of her entourage dove out from the stage and onto the crowd. I looked over and the girls who were tweeting from the go-go platform now had their hands to their chests -- they were feeling Candy's words as if they'd been some essential Baptist sermon.
From there, things collapsed fairly quickly. Candy exited and NYC clubbing veteran Larry Tee began DJing a selection of uptempo bangers that didn't do much more than either of the openers. I looked over and realized that there were more people packed into DNA Pizza than there were in the club. It was clear that it was time to go home.