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Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Top Five Parties in San Francisco This Weekend

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Thomas Bullock plays one of his last sets at Wicked's reunion party at Mighty this Saturday.
  • Thomas Bullock plays one of his last sets at Wicked's reunion party at Mighty this Saturday.

Don't you just hate the term "hump day"? Yeah? Us too. So thank god it's Thursday, right? No strange nicknames can now get in the way of the fact that the weekend -- with its promises of good times and inebriated adventures -- is rapidly approaching. To help you ease into the full-tilt acceleration of San Francisco's party culture, we've put together this handy list to everything worth going to: We've got DJs turned Mezcal slingers, OG techno heads, and even some stuff that falls far outside the bounds of traditional classification. Read on -- your weekend awaits.

Wicked 23rd Anniversary with Thomas, Garth, Jenö, and Markie at Mighty

10 p.m. Saturday, June 7 $15-$25

Rave culture in San Francisco owes a lot to the Wicked Crew. The group of four U.K. expats arrived in the Bay Area in the early '90s and brought with them the carefree spirit and attitude of English rave culture. Their parties through the '90s and '00s have helped to set the tone and style at the core of the city's underground nightlife -- they mixed bubbling acid house, hedonistic rare disco, and Balearic cheese with a madcap psychedelic edge carried by funky breakbeat samples. Though no longer a regular fixture on the scene, every year they reconvene for an anniversary party. This year's edition marks its 23rd incarnation, but it also carries a more somber note. Thomas Bullock, one of the four original Wicked DJs, has decided to permanently hang up his headphones and end his long career as a selector. This year's Wicked Reunion party will be his last gig in San Francisco.

Bullock was always the wild card of the group. His roots stretch back to the early days of English rave culture. In the '80s, he was a part of the renegade Tonka Soundsystem -- a crew that counted DJ Harvey as one of its members. Then and now, his reputation has always been as an unpredictable selector: A typical set might feature a roughshod jumble that jumps through NYC garage classic, obscure Italian disco, hypnotic progressive house, and then strange stuff like disco versions of Glenn Miller Orchestra's "Sing, Sing, Sing" or soundtrack music that's eerily close to the theme from "Hawaii Five-0." Somehow it just works, which has always been Bullock's unique gift. As with his Wicked compatriots, it's often very difficult to tell exactly what song is playing -- the only defining feature, beyond obscurity, is quality.

So why is he leaving? The answer is simple enough: "I no longer like loud music and crowded spaces," he tells SF Weekly. His desire to share unusual records has been replaced with a passion for mezcal, a smokey Mexican spirit, which he sources and imports under the name Spirit Bear Mezcals in London. He describes his philosophy as such, "I want to take mezcal everywhere like I do my records and turn people on, connect 'em to something great, hand made, with culture and to blow their minds." And, if he's as successful in mezcal as he's been with records, there's quite a bit to look forward to. Get a taste of what his vibe is all about via this recent mix.

We Are Monsters presents Inhalt at Underground SF

10 p.m Friday, June 6. $10-$20

Though originally rooted in disco, We Are Monsters has since branched out into darker territory. Case in point is its latest party at Underground SF, featuring Inhalt, a raw local outfit that's not quite house or techno, but explores the primitive '80s undercurrents beneath. Expect dark electronics and gothic vibes in an environment tuned towards partying. Check out Vehicle, the group's recent release on Dark Entries.

As You Like It presents DBX at Monarch

9 p.m. Friday, June 6. $10-$20

Techno has become quite a buzzword in the past year. Despite its recent popularity, the form has been developing in the underground for years. One of its foremost practitioners is Daniel Bell (a.k.a DBX) whose particularly looped-up, futuristic, and rugged take on the sound has been a staple since the late '80s. His DJ sets draw on a decades of experience, serving up a pure example of techno in its original Detroit-derived incarnation. Check out his appearance on Boiler Room for an idea of what to expect.

Surface Tension presents Container at Mercer

9 p.m. Saturday, June 7. $12-$20

SF was long a house town, but no longer. Techno is on the ascendant, and Surface Tension is one of the parties responsible for the shift. Though it's new, it's been behind some of the most idiosyncratic bookings in the city, like this month's party featuring Container and Young Male, two rugged and noisy European performers whose sound is custom-tailored for those long nights spent on dark, techno-hued dancefloors.

Honey Soundsystem presents Steffi at Public Works

9 p.m. Saturday, June 7. $10-$15

Berghain. Say that word and techno fans get lightheaded. It's the hyper-exclusive Berlin club that operates at the center of the contemporary techno universe. However, despite it's affiliations with all things booming, hedonistic, and hypnotic, it also houses Panorama Bar, a side room dedicated to alternate strains of avant-garde house. Steffi is a resident of this second room, and her house style is as bleeding-edge as the techno in the main room, with atmosphere, depth, and melody fused together into a thoroughly modern whole. Check out her Beats in Space mix.

-- @derekopperman

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Derek Opperman


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