"No Coachella, no problem!" seems to be the guiding theme for San Francisco in the coming week. In fact, given the stature of the DJs in town you might even consider laughing at some of your friends who are headed to Indio (that is, if you haven't already). As usual we've got you covered, but we also have one last-minute addition for this evening: Tubesteak Connection, DJ Bus Station John's cruisy old-school disco party, is celebrating its 9th Anniversary at Aunt Charlie's. If you've never been, this is a good opportunity to hear one of the city's best and perhaps most underground DJs in a one-of-a-kind environment -- just don't forget to turn your cell phone off. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
Friday, April 19. 10 p.m. $15-$20
"See, what I believe, is that I'm a servant to the music. That's who I am. I don't really claim to create anything, I think my purpose here is to reach people -- to open them up or give them happiness. I think that should be the role of DJ." These are the words of veteran house DJ and producer Joe Claussell. They're humble in nature, and so is he -- but what they fail to get across is that Claussell has one of the most unique styles in underground dance music.
His sound is vibrant and old-school, with a heavy emphasis on the improvisatory EQing enabled by boutique DJ frequency isolators. Behind the decks, he's constantly in action, spinning the controls for a variety of ends: one minute he's playing with the kick drum; next, he's applying tremolo to a battery of synthesizers; and later, he might just pull it all out to let the hi-hats simmer alone. It's intensely emotional and affecting, and to experience a set by him is to be thrown into a beautiful pandemonium, the likes of which only a handful of other players can deliver.
That style is a consequence of technique, and a number of other things -- not least of which was Claussell's experience growing up in New York City. As a young man, he experienced the full spectrum of nightlife, with time divided between places like the punk club CBGB and post-disco hothouse Paradise Garage. Later he found himself as the proprietor of the Dance Tracks record store, a vital hub in the thriving East Coast underground house scene. Then, in the late '90s, he started playing regularly as a part of the Body & SOUL trio alongside disco-era legends François K. and Danny Krivit. While all this was happening, he also developed his skills as a producer, first with Jerome Sydenham's Ibadan label and then with Claussell's own Spiritual Life and Sacred Rhythm imprints. Connecting all these points is an underground-oriented mentality that puts artistic expression before things like hype, personal fame, or critical acceptance.
Mechanically speaking, Claussell's style comes from a sense of motion he's always associated with sound. From a young age he found himself in movement while singing songs with his brother José Claussell, a drummer in Eddie Palmieri's salsa band. In fact, he denies that it's a conscious style, but rather something that's just inside him. "[It's] my emotion and what music does to me," he says. "This isn't some show thing, you know? If I had the power to not do it, I probably wouldn't, but [the music] is more powerful than me." That musical power is infectious, something that'll undoubtedly be made clear when he headlines Mighty on Saturday. Get ready for it by listening to this relatively recent mix.
Thursday, April 18. 9 p.m. $25
The corner of Market and Sixth can be a scary place at any time of day. Yet despite this fact (or perhaps because of it) the area has traditionally had a thriving nightlife scene. One of the focal points of this has been Mezzanine, the large venue just off the strip on Jessie Street. Over the years it has shone brightly, with a mixture of well-curated acts and top-notch sound from the first Funktion-One sound system in San Francisco. The club is celebrating its 10th Anniversary all this month, and will mark the occasion this week with a live performance by electro-house fire-starters Simian Mobile Disco, whose freshly released live album Live can be streamed in its entirety on the duo's Soundcloud page.
Friday, April 19. 9 p.m. $15-$25
If you could climb the hierarchy of European house music DJs, you'd find Jamie Jones sitting somewhere near the top. The London-based slinger of druggy and low-slung grooves has been thrilling dancefloors for the past 10 years with his new-school sound of vocally driven dance music (check out "Change" and listen to his recent Boiler Room set). He's a tireless promoter of this style, releasing like-minded tracks on his in-vogue Hot Creations imprint as well as its sub-labels Hot Natured and Hot Waves. Normally he's found behind the decks at some of the largest clubs in the world, so his set at Public Works this Friday offers a rare chance to catch him in a more intimate setting.
Saturday, April 20. 10 p.m. $20
These days, a lot of focus is on reviving the vision of the first wave of Detroit techno artists, but this often comes at the expense of those who picked up the torch in the '90s. Stacey Pullen, a man also known as Kosmic Messenger, is one such producer. Over the years he's reconnected the wires between jazzy deep house and looping sci-fi techno for a distinct sound that effortlessly drifts between each. He's also a killer DJ, which means you'll be in good hands when he plays a three-hour set at marathon party "The Show" this Saturday. Listen to "Soundscape" and peruse his comprehensive collection of live-recorded mixtapes.
Sunday, April 21. 10 p.m. $5-$10
Journey to Los Angeles' wasted downtown expanse, and you'll find an entire network of warehouse parties alive from midnight to dawn. It pains us to say this, but our neighbor to the south has once again become a dominant electronic dance music hotspot. One of its biggest names is Silent Servant, a critical sensation of an artist who specializes in a particularly brooding kind of industrial techno (check out his Fact mix from last year), with many tracks that one might even classify as genuinely scary. But there's nothing to fear: a scare is worth it when the music is this good.