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Our picks for Spectrum, the weekend’s big dance party 

Wednesday, Jun 24 2009

Those who are weary of multigenre, multistage music events like the two-day Spectrum Festival might roll their eyes at its crowded bill, which will take over all three rooms of the Regency Ballroom this weekend. But give the organizers credit. Instead of trying to force a star-studded mini-Coachella down our throats, they've augmented a compelling touring lineup (which includes a performance from Phoenix) with a diverse batch of S.F. talent. Here's a rundown of recommended out-of-town acts, local cool kids, and klowns to watch out for.

Major Lazer
Philly's DJ Diplo and the U.K.'s DJ Switch have plenty in common besides being globally rated party-rockers who've produced M.I.A. albums. These studio mavericks also possess a distinct, synth-heavy dancehall reggae flavor that they've popularized for hipster audiences and made the focus of their Major Lazer collaboration. Their forthcoming album, Guns Don't Kill People ... Lazers Do, features cameos by R&B freak Kelis and dancehall don Mr. Lexx. It'll likely be a top soundtrack to the '09 urban summer. (Friday, Grand Ballroom)

LTJ Bukem & MC Conrad
Though some drum 'n' bass purists vilify him, there's no denying the influence of London's Danny Williamson, who has done business as LTJ Bukem since the early '90s. He smoothed out the genre after its hardcore emergence, cooling its frenetic breakbeat pace and popularizing an atmospheric, '70s-jazz–imbued sound via his vaunted Good Looking label. Over the years, Bukem's longtime compatriot Conrad has refined the live d'n'b MC role, laying back in the cut and generating confident hype instead of crowding his vocals onto every beat. (Friday, Sutter Room)

DJ Vadim
Leningrad-born, London-raised producer Andrey Gurov has helped shape the sound of alt-hip-hop production for more than 15 years under the Vadim moniker. Over eight albums and a ton of EPs, Vadim's hybridized electronic downtempo style has taken in jazz, abstract funk, and roots reggae, and backed MCs from across the globe. (Friday, Sutter Room)

Diego's Umbrella
For the past eight years, this goofy sextet has been colliding aspects of flamenco, mariachi, and funk-rock on a solid alt-polka and ska foundation, powered by a thumping rhythm section that supports the soulful wailings of violinist Jayson Kleinberg. (Friday, Lodge)

Disco Shawn
As coproducer with Gavin Burnett (aka DJ Oro11) of the cumbia night "Tormenta Tropical" and label Bersa Discos, Shawn Reynaldo has been a prime local propagator of new electro-Argentine sounds. Expect him to drop a set of thumping midtempo beats under traditional Afro-Latin percussion and whizzing electronic effects. (Saturday, Sutter Room)

Remember house music? Sure ya do. For nearly 20 years, Manny Alfarez has kept the faith in the funkier side of the genre long enough to make scene institutions out of his residencies at spots like Fully Loaded, 2nd Sundays, and his own Green Gorilla Lounge. People know M3 sets for one simple reason: The man plays the good-time, uptempo music that put San Francisco on the dance music map starting in the early '90s. (Saturday, Sutter Room)

This colorfully costumed sextet has been the musical spearhead of the burgeoning local alt-clown — or "klown" — scene that will dominate the Lodge stage. Gooferman comprises guys in greasepaint who rock intelligent early-Fishbone-style funk-rock. Their live show has variously included fire-breathers, stilt walkers, and other misfit performers. (Saturday, Lodge)

About The Author

Ron Nachmann


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