Fact: You're more likely to have a fun and fulfilling weekend if you plan it out ahead of time. Actually, that might not be a fact, but it certainly qualifies as common sense. So, to better assist you in scheduling your leisurely party time activities, we've assembled this handy list of everything that's good in Bay Area nightlife, with entries in UK garage (that's "garridjj"), New York house, Italian disco, and more. Read on--your weekend awaits.
9 p.m. Friday, April 25. $20
In dance music, few genre titles elicit as much confusion as "garage." The phrase first came about in the late '70s and early '80s as a way to refer to the unique style of disco played by DJ Larry Levan at Manhattan discotheque Paradise Garage. In the years since, "garage" has gone on to mean a whole lot of things to a whole lot of different people. In the U.S., it refers to a whole continuum of soulful East Coast house music -- the kind of stuff that can still directly trace its roots back to Levan's dancefloor, like Masters at Work's "Deep Inside." In the U.K., however, garage refers to something rather different -- there it's pronounced "garridjj" and connotes a hyperactive and totally tweaked dance music, like Menthol Man's "Snowball" (a song featured on Da Ali G Show). Though these days the two styles sound very little like the other, they are related, and New Jersey DJ Todd Edwards is partly responsible.
The split between US and UK garage occurred in the early 1990s. Edwards was an up-and-coming producer who wanted to follow in the footsteps of remix behemoths Masters at Work and MK. His early output fit the mold, but as he progressed he began to apply heavier swing and more advanced sampling techniques. The latter, dubbed micro-sampling, would become his calling card. He cut up tons of vocal samples to create tracks like "Saved My Life," which features a layered network of one-to-five-second clips that stutter and slide across the surface of the beat. In an interview with Red Bull Music Academy, he cites Enya as an influence. "She used her vocals as musical elements, so I was like, 'Why not if I take sampled vocals and make those the instruments, instead of organs or pianos and whatnot?'"
This kind of "garage" house, with its swung tempo and odd vocal arrangements, was picked up first in France (Todd Edwards is one of the DJs mentioned in Daft Punk's "Teachers," and he collaborated with the French supergroup on Discovery). Later, it found its way to London, where the sound found favor as a complement to drum 'n' bass. Though considerably slower, DJs spun garage in side rooms, where they'd attempt to match the tempo of drum 'n' bass by playing their records at as fast as their turntables would allow. From there, a whole new genre was born. Expect Todd Edwards to navigate all forms of garage when he DJs at the latest edition of Lights Down Low alongside Chicago house heavyweight Felix Da Housecat and Australian cosmic disco selector Tornado Wallace. Check out Edwards' "Innovators" mix for XLR8R.
10 p.m. Friday, April 25. $15; 1015.com
Norway may not be a hotbed for international hip-hop, but the Scandinavian country has at least given the world Cashmere Cat. Though originally known as a competing turntablist DJ, he's since moved on to embrace the bass-heavy dimensions of contemporary hip-hop production. The song "Mirror Maru" shows off his style, with playfully retuned soul vocals, funky chords, and halftime breakdowns.
10 p.m. Saturday, April 26. $15-$25
Mighty is easily the best place in town to hear good, old-school New York garage house. This week you can get a dose of it courtesy of two of the Big Apple's biggest selectors: Kenny Dope and Mr. V (not to be confused with Louie Vega). The party honors the release of the funky and piano-driven "Jus Dance," Mr. V's latest single. Expect a long night of nonstop dancing.
9 p.m. Saturday, April 26. Free
It's really hard to beat the corny fun of Italo disco. It's like new wave and synth-pop, only sung in a kind of stunted faux-English that pushes it into the realm of the truly bizarre. (Don't believe us? Just listen closely to Kano's "I'm Ready.") Galaxy Radio is a free party dedicated to the sounds of this era, as well as tangential styles like cosmic disco and '80s funk.
9 p.m. Sunday, April 27. $10-$20
Berlin might be the world capital of techno, but it also has a thriving house scene. Case in point is Powel, a rising talent from the German capital whose sounds offer a surprisingly sunny and light interpretation of club music, with chiming Rhodes chords, gentle rhythms, and carefully constructed synth melodies. His DJ sets achieve a similarly pleasing aesthetic. Listen to his Bespoke Musik Radio mix.