Halloween is the kind of big holiday that demands celebration. As such, it seems only fitting that the city is gearing up to celebrate All Hollow's Eve early this year. Since it's on a Thursday, that means you have pretty much from now 'til then (and a little beyond) to don a costume and party. To get you ready, we've assembled this handy list of pre-Halloween nightlife fun. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24. $5-$10
Estonia and Eastern Europe aren't places traditionally known for their pop music -- at least not at a global level. One artist who could change that is Maria Minerva (aka Maria Juur), whose music is informed by an academic background that includes a post-grad education in audio and visual culture at Goldsmith's College in London. While her scholarly chops might suggest something overly brainy or serious, her music is instead playful and poppy, with a zany take on dance music that's quickly earned her favor among indie rock fans and dance heads alike.
Minerva is a new artist, first appearing in 2011 with a string of albums and singles released via the outsider Los Angeles label Not Not Fun and its weirder dance offshoot 100% Silk. Her sound is a perfect fit for that family of labels, as it meshes sampled disco rhythms and gauzy chillwave atmospherics to create a monolithic bed for her dreamy singing. "My main thing is just the way I [use] my vocals: [it's] always tied everything together, even when I went across genres," she told Tiny Mix Tapes. "I would stamp all of the tracks with my voice."
Her most recent record, a four-track EP called Bless, is her most dancefloor-oriented yet. But it's scattered in its approach, pairing a remix from deep house heavyweight Lady Blacktronica with bizarre, satirical pop tunes that sound like the Residents or Frank Zappa as applied to contemporary culture. Its lead single is "Black Magick," a cut that has her singing a mocking lullaby melody of "Boy what you do to me is black magick, I die every night in your arms" above a rhythm seemingly composed on a cheap, consumer-grade keyboard. As the song progresses, it gets progressively more demented, with unsettling keyboard riffs and washes of her voice that complement a lyrical breakdown into paranoia: "You're a riddle, every day's a struggle," she chants. It's weird, but not arbitrarily so, and demonstrates her willingness to go far afield to challenge the traditional conventions of pop.
So while Maria Minerva's records can be challenging, they're rewarding as well. That extends to her live show, which she performs solo, crooning on a microphone accompanied by a small array of hardware. Expect the unexpected when she headlines the forward-thinking Future | Perfect party Thursday at Public Works, alongside dark-wave practitioner Metal Mother and live techno experimentalist Cherushii. Watch this video of her playing live for a better idea of what to expect.
9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25. $40-$45
Without John Digweed, there might not be progressive house music as we know it today. As a member of the legendary '90s-era duo Sasha and Digweed, he pushed big room dance music in a direction that made it more suitable for large-scale festivals, with psychedelic flourishes and bombastic bass lines. These days he continues that streak as a regular headliner on the global big-room circuit. Listen to this recent "Transitions" mix.
10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25. $10-$15
Darkness is a theme close to the work of Brooklyn duo Gatekeeper. Three years ago, the group rose to fame off the music on Giza, its twisted ode to '80s horror movie soundtracks. Now it's moved on, pushing its bleak, campy sound into the world of '90s industrial dance, making it a great fit for Mission goth party 120 Minutes. Check out "Imperatrix" for a preview of where they're headed next.
10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25. $5-$10
It might have its share of civic problems, but Detroit is still a heavyweight when it comes to dance music. Its latest export is MGUN, aka Manuel Gonzalez, a new producer who uses lo-fi production techniques to explore the recent lineage of the Motor City through breakdancer-approved '80s electro rhythms, soulful house chords, and militarized techno. Listen to his recent house mix.
9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. $20
It might not quite be Halloween, but you can get into the spirit by donning a costume and heading to Bootie. This edition of the city's premier mashup party promises to be a spectacle, with the club's usual intense energy matched by spooky decor and a costume contest complete with cash prizes of $200 for each category. This video documentary does a pretty good job of covering what the party's all about.