Get on your glad rags and raise a glass: it's time to celebrate Flag Day. While not as popular on the clubbing circuit as St. Patrick's Day or Cinco De Mayo, June 14 is the patriotic date when America first adopted its iconic red, white, and blue flag. As you well know, we're huge fans of employing useless data to justify our partying, so just take our word for it that you ought to be out there going extra hard. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
Friday, June 14. 10 p.m. $17.50-$20
With the rate at which phrases like "cutting-edge" and "forward-thinking" are thrown around these days, you'd imagine that dance music would be more innovative. But that's not the case: Instead, much of the beat-based avant-garde has shown a rigid adherence to the constraints of bass music, a U.K. import with roots in drum 'n' bass, dubstep, and two-step garage. It's not that these sounds weren't novel when they first appeared -- three years ago they cut a unique alternative to the club culture of the moment. But now bass music is about as groundbreaking as any other standardized form, with its own set of rules that are rarely broken: tempos of 130 BPM or more, digitally pitch-bent R&B and rap vocal samples, and a general aversion to four-to-the-floor straightforwardness learned from producers like J Dilla and Flying Lotus. Yet beneath this toe-the-line attitude, there are still artists attempting to do something new. This Saturday, long-established London-based experimental label Ninja Tune is taking over 1015 Folsom to showcase a few of these individuals.
One producer who could never stand accused of complacency is Actress (a.k.a. Darren Cunningham). Since arriving on the scene in early 2004, his myriad productions have done a lot to broaden minds while simultaneously moving bodies. This can be heard on his most recent two albums Splazsh (check out "Lost" and "Always Human") and RIP (listen to "Tree of Knowledge"), which carve an interesting line through various forms of electronic dance music while sounding nothing like what's come before. His sonic aesthetic consists of guttural frequencies, bleeping machine noises, and stoned white-noise textures inspired by the philosophical themes of books like Milton's Paradise Lost. So far, each of his releases has defied expectations, setting a new bar for what constitutes avant-garde dance music. Like the rest of Friday's headliners, he'll perform live, offering listeners a visceral peek into his creative process.
Also on deck for the main stage is New Yorker FaltyDL (a.k.a. Drew Lustman), a producer who's built a career on the fringes of bass music. While perhaps not as out-there as Cunningham, his club-focused sounds make something new by combining the grit and hustle of underground America with a stylistic freedom that pulls liberally from the obscure side of U.K. dance culture. Hardcourage, his latest album, is an open exploration of the new; it sounds like Four Tet as heard through the prism of life in the Big Apple (check out this Boiler Room set). His live performance will follow one from upstart Briton Slugabed, whose work approaches the skittering rhythms of trap from the outsider's perspective of London. Adding further muscle to the whole thing is a cohort of local selectors who'll be spinning a variety of futurist sounds in the club's labyrinth of rooms.
Friday, June 14. 10 p.m. $15-$20
The skittering rhythms of trap may have roots in Atlanta, but recent years have seen the style explode into a worldwide phenomenon. One far-flung practitioner is London's Stööki Sound, a new duo who combines ratchety percussion with the futuristic anti-melodies of up-to-the-minute U.K. bass. Listen to this recent mix.
Friday June 14. 10 p.m. $15-$20
When it comes to pure, electro-induced euphoria, few DJs are better equipped than A.C. Slater. A pivotal member of New York's Trouble and Bass label, he calls his music "heavy bass," which is a perfect way to describe his party-friendly mix of stuttering samples, car alarm blasts, and chunky dubstep drops. Give this recent mix a spin.
9 p.m. Saturday, June 15. $10-$15
Take one shot of Depeche Mode, mix with two fingers of nostalgia, and you've got a pretty close approximation of Cold Cave. A side-project of hardcore punk vocalist Wesley Eisold, it's a modern an attempt at reviving the gloomy-yet-cool leather-clad synth-pop of yesteryear (listen to "Love Comes Close"). Catch him perform with live band, as well as DJ accompaniment from international bass purveyors Brenmar and Jokers of the Scene.
9:30 p.m. Saturday, June 15. $15-$20
Paris may be best-known for the brash, disco-sampling sound of Daft Punk and Justice, but it doesn't lack an underground. Over the years, the French capital has fostered a deep-house scene that's birthed crowd-pleasing DJs like Franck Roger -- a spinner who imparts a distinctly Gallic spin on the gritty basslines and soulful vocals of '90s New York garage (hear this recent mix).