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Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Top Five Parties in San Francisco This Weekend

Posted By on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 8:00 AM

  • Bicep plays at Mighty on Saturday.

Congratulations, you've almost made it through the week. Tough it out a little longer and check out this handy guide to everything that's worth knowing about in nightlife. You want dance music? There's plenty of options to choose from: Bulgarian acid house, new-school Balearica, and even real-deal Italian disco. Trust us, you're going to have a good time. Read on -- your weekend awaits.

As You Like It and Honey Soundsystem present Bicep at Mighty

9 p.m. Saturday, April 12. $20

Sound Factory, Red Zone, Palladium, Shelter: These are the names of the institutions that dominated the New York house scene in the 1990s. The music played was tough and soulful -- a gritty urban sound for a city whose edge had yet to dull. Today, the pull of the music from that era has proven irresistible. London duo Bicep is part of a new generation of artists, predominantly based in Europe and the U.K., fueling a revival of this banging regional sound. Yet "retro house," as it's sometimes called, is not without its controversies. A cursory scan of online forums and comment sections reveals a common thread of criticism from the peanut gallery: This stuff has been done before, why bother doing it again? The answer, of course, is that this kind of music is extremely fun to dance to.

Andrew Ferguson and Matthew McBriar have been stewards of underground house music for quite a long time. Their blog,, is a resource of rare vinyl rips and MP3 finds that shows off a wealth of knowledge on all forms of American dance music, despite their having grown up halfway around the world in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Their music pulls liberally from this knowledge, and assembles a sound that's more than a purist's revival. Though their tracks often sound period-accurate, there's also a distinctly modern bite that comes out behind the old-school swing and vintage hardware. "$tripper" and "Vision of Love," their two most successful dancefloor anthems to date, take the driving, instrumental template established by old-school heroes like Kerri Chandler and Jovonn, and update it with new-school song structure and a clean production aesthetic. But these songs still hit hard on the dancefloor, with wailing diva samples careening over skipping percussion and moody organ hits; their tracks are pure pleasure when played loud on a big club sound system.

Recently, Bicep's work has taken on an even more modern edge, reflecting the artists' desire to escape pigeonholing. "Sacrifice," a cut released last year in tandem with U.K. house outfit Simian Mobile Disco, is the duo's most contemporary yet. It slyly combines the percussion of old-school New York with a spaced-out bass line hook and expansive synthesizer sounds that introduce a surprisingly techno-leaning sound to Bicep's house-oriented core. It's a direction that's long been in the making, and one that shows there's still plenty of things to say with that old New York sound palette. Expect Bicep to explore this direction, along with plenty of New York obscurities and favorites, when the duo soundtracks the latest As You Like It at Mighty alongside Chicago veteran Derrick Carter.

House of Mezzanine with Aeroplane at Mezzanine

9 p.m. Thursday, April 10. $10-$15

Vito de Luca has come a long way since his debut as Aeroplane in the mid-'00s. Back then he made breezy house tunes, like "Pacific Air Race," that seemed tailor-made for the beach-side party culture of '80s Ibiza. Nowadays, however, he's fast-forwarded his sound to the bombastic present, with big club remixes that are more in line with the spectacle of the Spanish island today.

Night Moves with Dennis Ferrer at Monarch

9:30 p.m. Friday, April 11. $20-$30

There's something about New York house music -- it just has its own sound. These days, Dennis Ferrer is one of the city's primary movers. His releases, like "The Red Room" and "Hey Hey," mix techno precision with house music's gospel roots. The result is a sound that's big-room ready (he's been nominated for a Grammy) but also deep enough for the heads.

Isis with KiNK at Public Works

9:30 p.m. Friday, April 11. $10-$15

Believe it or not, Bulgarian acid house is actually a thing. Strahil Velchev (aka KiNK) is a producer of vicious bass line-led dance music that recalls that moment in the late '80s when the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer birthed the first rave generation. He's not a DJ, and he doesn't use with walls of hardware onstage; instead, he stretches the limits of digital playing with high-octane sets played via MIDI and laptop. Check out his Boiler Room.

No Way Back and Sunset present Alexander Robotnick at F8

10 p.m. Saturday, April 12. $10-$20

Though Alexander Robotnick's "Problèmes D'Amour" came at the tail end of the disco years, it's still one of the most influential early Italian dance records. The shifting synth bass line and bizarre vocals made it a hit on underground dancefloors, and DJs like Larry Levan in New York and Ron Hardy in Chicago used it to bridge the gap between the death of disco and the birth of house. Pay your respects at his DJ set this Saturday.

-- @derekopperman

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Derek Opperman


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