Just a quick PSA: food comas and partying rarely mix. With that in mind, we suggest you take it easy on the turkey this Thanksgiving, and keep yourself spry for what looks to be one of the best weekends for nightlife in quite awhile. To help you keep track of everything, we've assembled this handy list, with events featuring top-notch techno, cutting-edge UK house, and even a little bit of trip-hop. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, $5-$10
Ben UFO (aka Ben Thomson) is an anomaly among DJs working the global circuit. The London-based spinner has chosen not to produce and release his own music, preferring instead to focus on the craft of DJing and running Hessle Audio, the respected dubstep-informed U.K. bass label he started in 2007 with Ramadanman and Pangea. It's a counterintuitive decision, as the recent explosion in the popularity of DJing has resulted in a climate where releasing music is a necessity for exposure on the world stage. That he's made it on his own is a testament to the ingenuity of his DJ sets, which dazzle in the way they connect sounds from across time, space, and genre into a cohesive whole. Listen to his recently released Essential Mix.
A big part of his appeal comes in his carefully considered approach to the craft. "My view on DJing has always been that it's not just about the music you play," he told Pulse Radio. "That's a very important aspect of it, but in order for a DJ to be recognized purely as a DJ, I think they need to be presenting that music in an unexpected or original way." That kind of thinking can be heard on his regular show on London's popular Rinse.FM radio, as well as on his two official mix CDs.
For instance, his Fabriclive 67, released earlier this year by London's Fabric super-club, weaves a mixed-up narrative full of novel transitions between disparate sounds, such as his blend between Larry Heard's '80s deep house classic "I'm Strong" and the shuddering African percussive hits of Shackleton vs. Kasai Allstars' "Mukuba Special." Elsewhere he follows a tangent into a corridor of looping industrial-grade techno that leads to a brief, soulful moment of 2-step garage. "It's as much about presentation and structure as it is about the actual records that I choose to play," he explains. "The way that a DJ mixes determines people's perceptions of the tunes they hear, and that's why when one DJ plays a tune it can sound like a worn-out track and another plays it at a different time in the same night, it can sound like a huge peak-time record."
That open-minded mentality fits well with Icee Hot, a party that's spent much of the past years connecting the dots between American, British, and European strains of dance music both past and present. Ben UFO plays its first party at SOMA club F8 this Friday, with local support in the form of a live hardware performance by raw techno practitioner Austin Cesear and DJ sets by Avalon Emerson and the Icee Hot residents.
8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29. $20
Trip-hop might be a forgotten genre, but don't tell Nightmares on Wax that. The longtime Warp Records veteran has carried the torch for the past 10 years, with a laid-back sound built from fuzzy vinyl samples, dubby Jamaican basslines, and totally stoned jazz. Live he has a similar sensibility, guiding crowds on a danceable tour through his sample sources. Watch his recent appearance on Boiler Room .
9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29. $15-$25
This Friday, Tribal Funk, one of San Francisco's oldest rave crews, celebrates its 20th year with a special one-off party at Mighty. In honor of the occasion, it's stacking the bill with local veterans and making some space for two serious headliners: Detroit technohead Stacey Pullen (check out his XLR8R podcast) and big room electro house heavyweight Donald Glaude (listen to "This Is Me Vol. 10).
9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30. $15-$18
In contemporary dance music, few names are bigger than Seth Troxler. The one-time Detroit-based DJ has been at the forefront of a new movement that blends the hypnotism and polished aesthetic of minimal techno with the soulfulness of house. That sensibility comes out in his DJ sets, which are long-form narratives played almost entirely on vinyl. Check out his Boiler Room.
9:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30. $10
Though France is more readily associated with the filter-house sound of Daft Punk, it's also host to a thriving techno scene. Case in point: Agoria, a leading figure whose sound pulls from the jazzier side of the techno spectrum, with sparse machine rhythms married to futuristically tinged melodic loops. Listen to his mix for Tsugi magazine.