With 4/20 behind us and Cinco De Mayo in rapid approach, this coming weekend exists as a kind of placid middle ground. Normally that might be considered a bad thing when it comes to partying, but pros know that now is the right time to get out and enjoy the city at its best. And, to help you come to that realization, we've provided this handy list of events you really ought to check out. So read on -- your weekend awaits.
Friday, April 26, 9 p.m. $5-$15
There's no better indication of the health of nightlife in San Francisco than the recent rise of the mega-party. Centered around the city's largest clubs, these are massive affairs featuring multiple headline acts bankrolled by coalitions of promoters. They sometimes begin early in the day, and always end late in the morning.
This new breed often sacrifices quality at the altar of quantity, offering a festival-like experience that can be inconsistent. But this Friday's epic event at Public Works looks like it'll be one of the good ones. One reason is the group of promoters behind it, all of whom have had excellent reputations for years: Honey Soundsystem, Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, Icee Hot, The Bunker (an NYC outfit that's recently stepped into the local market), and Public Works itself. They've all teamed up to supply an evening with four names that would each be major draws on their own.
At the top of the bill is Berlin-based DJ Prosumer, aka Achim Brandenburg, a man who for many years helped to define the sound of that city's famous Panorama Bar nightclub, the house-oriented room at the monolithic Berghain. His extended sets there pulled from an encyclopedic collection of records, and formed a bridge between old-school appeal and contemporary muscle (check out his Boiler Room mix).
Brandenburg is no longer tied to that club, which has freed him to export his inimitable style to forward-thinking dancefloors around the world. He's a tastemaker par-excellence, and it was partly his doing that FCL's beatless cover of ESP's '80s classic "It's You" became such a smash at the end of 2012 (as of this writing, copies of that record are now going for $500 on the secondhand market). In his hands, that song became a secret weapon, its lack of a kick drum compensated for with a mostly forgotten turntablist's trick: He hit the label of the record with his fingers, creating on-the-fly percussion made possible by the sensitive acoustics of the Technics 1200 record player. In addition to being a revered DJ, Brandenburg is also an accomplished producer. He works collaboratively, and, as it happens, Murat Tepeli, his most frequent partner, will also be on hand Saturday in the main room of Public Works (listen to his Little White Earbuds mix).
But don't worry if that all sounds too European, because the OddJob Loft will feature two leading practitioners from the growing scene of American outsider house music. The headliner there is Huerco S., the Kansas City-based artist whose raw sound, as on "Press On (Ruff Rub)," brings to mind a cinematic take on the avant-garde rhythmic experiments of Theo Parrish. Joining him is similarly minded local Vereker, whose freshly released EP on the critically lauded L.I.E.S. imprint has a sound that's described as "designed to rip the listener apart like a sickened animal on the loose." Sounds good to us, give "Marked" a listen.
Friday, April 26. 9 p.m. $10-$20
Considering this city's infatuation with dance music, it's surprising at how few options there are for fans of Detroit techno. That probably won't be changing anytime soon, but the arrival of Luke Hess this Friday offers at least one opportunity to get down to the latter-day sounds of the Motor City. He's a young producer who fuses the dub experimentation of German group Basic Channel with the grittier American sound of Omar S. -- who, as it happens, released Hess's excellent Keep On LP late last year on his highly regarded FXHE imprint. Check out Hess' stunningly haunting "The Problem of Decay (Greed Affects Us All)."
Saturday, April 27. 9 p.m. $10-$15
Subtle isn't a word that most people would use to describe trance music. But that's not a problem, because contained within its huge build ups and baroque orchestration is a kind of unbridled euphoria that few other dance genres can match. This Saturday marks the third anniversary of Bay Area party crew TranceFamily SF, and the group is celebrating at Project One with a night of tunes on the club's new Turbosound soundsystem. There are a number of local DJs playing, but you can get prepped for the night by listening to this mix courtesy of headliner John Beaver.
Saturday, April 27. 10 p.m. $10
New Jersey is notable for quite a few things, but in the world of dance music, it's the state's gospel-tinged deep house sound that carries the most weight. And its most storied practitioners are the trio-turned-duo known as Blaze. Kevin Hedge is one half of that group, and his DJ and production abilities have helped keep him in the spotlight since the mid-'80s (check out "Whatcha Gonna Do" and "If You Should Need a Friend"). Now the East Coast original is bringing his soulful style to the old-school-focused Mighty Real monthly. Get prepped for the party by listening to this collaborative mix Hedge recorded with Louie Vega to honor the legacy of Paradise Garage DJ Larry Levan.
Saturday, April 27. 1 p.m. $35-$45
Burning Man is approaching. The presence of the party on the playa can be felt in the numerous events seeking to finance various floats, art projects, and soundsystems. Enter Distrikt, a "non-profit electronic music collective" that's raising funds via an all-day, indoor-outdoor, circus-themed block party called "Revel." Expect carni-games, side shows, and a ravey soundtrack supplied by some of the best DJ crews in San Francisco: Dirtybird, Sunset, Space Cowboys, Pink Mammoth, Distrikt, and more.