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Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Top Five Parties in San Francisco This Weekend

Posted By on Thu, May 8, 2014 at 9:17 AM

Joy Orbison plays at The Factory on Saturday night.
  • Joy Orbison plays at The Factory on Saturday night.
Get ready, Sunday is Mother's Day. What does that have to do with a party column? Not much, actually. But just in case it does, we've assembled this handy guide to the weekend's best dance events, which includes a mini-festival at a '90s-era super-club, Swedish disco DJs, hardcore Detroit techno, and more. Read on -- your weekend awaits.

Apex Tour with Tale of Us, Joy Orbison, Thugfucker, Blond:ish, and more at The Factory

8 p.m. Saturday, May 10, $15-$30

It's an oft-repeated question: San Francisco has a thriving club culture, so why doesn't it have a world-class electronic festival of its own? Surely the Bay Area could support something along the lines of Seattle's Decibel or Montreal's Mutek. Why it hasn't happened yet is anyone's guess, but this Saturday offers a glimpse of how such an event might look. Liaison Artists (a booking agency) and Om Records have combined forces to create the Apex North American tour -- a wild, all-night traveling party featuring a roster of major DJs pulled from around the world. The San Francisco edition arrives this Saturday at the Factory, a massive but mostly unused relic left over from the '90s club boom. (Trust us: The novelty of the venue is almost worth the price of admission alone.)

With all parties, though, the draw is the music. Apex's DJs lean toward the bigger and techier end of the sound spectrum, with a list dominated by DJ duos that trade in the dark sheen of contemporary tech-house. The headliner is Tale of Us, an Italian duo whose tracks, like last year's "Angel," temper the now-standard big room, bass line-led formula with elements from unusual sources, like '80s pop (a la Depeche Mode), mid-'00s nu-disco, and drugged-out left-field techno. This work of U.K. duo Blond:ish is similarly informed, albeit with a lighter, more funk-oriented touch. New York outfit Thugfucker rounds things out with a comparatively breezy approach. Its 2010 track "Disco Gnome" was a carefree anthem whose vocal chorus and infectiously noodling synths made it a full-blown earworm.

Perhaps the most interesting artist on the bill is U.K. DJ Joy Orbison. He takes inspiration from that fertile moment when dubstep shattered into a million little subgenres, and his music has been pushing boundaries ever since the 2009 release of "Hyph Mango," his bizarre U.K. garage-meets-dubstep debut. His most recent track, "Big Room Tech House DJ Tool - TIP!," is a remake of classic U.K. garage with jerked percussion, smoky vocals, and a churning bass line that never seems to hit in the same place twice. His DJ sets are similarly creative, incorporating the hyperfuturistic U.K. sounds of today with choice cuts pulled from house and techno. So Apex may not be the answer to San Francisco's dance festival woes, but it's at least a start.

DJ Stingray at F8

10 p.m. Thursday, May 8. $5-$10

Derrick May once called techno "a complete mistake ... like George Clinton and Kraftwerk caught in an elevator." That description doesn't quite fit the genre today, but it fits DJ Stingray's aesthetic. Revered as the touring DJ for legendary Detroit techno outfit Drexciya, his style is rooted in techno's '80s electro roots, with hyperactive boom-bap drums and freakishly aggressive, fuzzed-out bass. Listen to his jaw dropping Boiler Room set.

Mighty Real presents A Tribute to Frankie Knuckles at Mighty

10 p.m. Saturday, May 10. $15-$25

March 31, 2014, was a sad day for fans of house music. That date marked the unexpected death of Frankie Knuckles, a man widely credited with having invented the genre in the late '70s and early '80s through the music he played at a now-famous Chicago club called the Warehouse. This Saturday, Mighty celebrates Knuckles' legacy with a full evening dedicated to his memory featuring big tracks like "The Whistle Song" and "Tears."

Icee Hot with Omar S at F8

10 p.m. Friday, May 9. $5-$10

It's hard to classify the music of Omar S. The Detroit native has a sound that effortlessly glides between the poles of old-school house and techno, but also incorporates aspects of psychedelia and 8-bit video game music (listen to "Set it Out" and "Psychotic Photosynthesis.") The result is something that's oddly familiar yet entirely distinct, which is why he's such a revered figure in contemporary dance music.

Play it Cool and Face present Mark Seven and Måns Erikson at Public Works Loft

9 p.m. Saturday, May 10. $10

There's more to Sweden than its mainstream EDM output. Case in point are the headliners at this Saturday's collaboration between Play it Cool and Face. Mark Seven is a Stockholm-based producer whose recent output contrasts dubby and electronic '80s disco with pitch-perfect '90s house (check out "Pillow Talk" and "My Caesar"). Måns Ericson is a Swedish ex-pat now living in New York, whose DJ sets explore the wildest frontiers of obscure '70s disco (listen to his "Vibe Construction #2" mix). Full disclosure: I'm a part of this party.

-- @derekopperman


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Derek Opperman

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