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Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Top 5 Parties in San Francisco This Weekend: Rødhåd, Michna, The Black Madonna, and More

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 11:52 AM

click to enlarge German techno avatar Rødhåd headlines Audio for Honey Soundsystem's party on Saturday, July 4.
  • German techno avatar Rødhåd headlines Audio for Honey Soundsystem's party on Saturday, July 4.
Honey Soundsystem presents Rødhåd at Audio, 9:30 p.m.-4 a.m. Saturday, July 4. $25-$30;

Ah, techno. Techno! Techno! For many Americans, "techno" is a handy catch-all phrase, a stand-in for any kind of electronic music whatsoever. For others, those who often find themselves sweaty and gyrating among a mass of similarly sweaty bodies in a dark club at 3 a.m., techno means something different, more specific. It's possible to home in on that specificity in writing, by pointing out that techno is largely mechanistic, loop-based, and comprises a futuristic sound palette, but it's a lot more efficient to simply point out a musician who embodies the sound and spirit of techno. Rødhåd is that person. Rødhåd is techno. ("Rødhåd" is Danish for "redhead," by the way.)

Rødhåd's story begins — as so many techno stories have — in the environs of Berlin, throwing open-air parties beginning in the late '90s. By 2009, he launched a club night called Dystopian, which became so successful he later launched a record label with the same name, and shortly thereafter became a regular DJ at Berlin mega-club Berghain, cementing his place in the techno world. What separates Rødhåd from the pack is his laser focus; his sound is dark, dubby, and intense, but never heavy-handed, and his technical DJ skills are flawless, blending tracks so artfully that each track becomes part of a greater whole. And that, really, is the magic of a masterful techno DJ set, wherein many become one, time loses all meaning, and the dancers on the floor unite into a cohesive mass. Who says techno isn't spiritual?

This appearance is Rødhåd's first in San Francisco, and he is joined by all the Honey Soundsystem residents — internationally renowned selectors in their own right. Join Honey and celebrate American independence in the best way possible — by freaking out on a crowded dancefloor.

Other worthy parties this week

Gray Area presents Michna, Ametsub, and Nicola Cruz at Gray Area Art + Technology Theatre, 8:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday, July 2. $20-$25;

Following on the success of its two-day festival featuring a number of audio-visual artists, Gray Area's latest event features three interdisciplinary musicians bridging the gaps between hip-hop, electronica, and pop. Headlining the affair is Michna, a New York-based artist who began his career as part of the electro-centric outfit Secret Frequency Crew. His latest work as Michna leans on a generous amount of melodic technoid flavor, resulting in a refreshingly earnest hybrid of retro-rooted synthpop and futuristic electronica. Ametsub, an artist based in Japan who will be making his American live debut at this performance, works in a similarly minor-key mood, but where Michna has gone techno and a bit pop, Ametsub remains in a hip-hop mode with a dreamy, jazzy influence, as cut-up, skittering beats lurk beneath washes of piano and sample-based atmospherics. Ecuadorian artist Nicola Cruz, whose work melds Latin rhythms and textures with modern bass music, will be opening the night.

Club Rude at Underground SF, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, July 3. Free;

San Francisco gets a lot of big-time DJs and electronic musicians coming through — we're blessed to have some of the best dance music on offer in the United States, on any given weekend. Nevertheless, sometimes the most magical nights in this city are the small ones, when a few local DJs get together and throw a party just for the hell of it (and the love of music, naturally). Club Rude is a concept put together by a couple local DJs (Bob Five, better known as one of the masterminds behind the Black Magic Disko party, and Sepehr, a local producer and DJ) that focuses on a feeling, an attitude, and not a specific genre — and, you guessed it, that feeling is, well, rudeness: a stuck-out tongue, a raised middle finger, and a disregard for genre restrictions. Expect to hear some post-punk, some industrial, some disco, some acid house, some electro, and everything else in between. It's cheap and sleazy, just like you.

As You Like It featuring The Black Madonna and more at Monarch, 9:30 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, July 3. $15-$20;

Just a few short years ago, The Black Madonna's name might have been unfamiliar to many fans of underground dance music. While she has long since been active in various capacities in the Midwestern rave scene, it wasn't until she launched her Black Madonna alias in 2011 — and shortly thereafter became the creative director at Smart Bar, Chicago's premiere house and techno club — that the world began to take notice of her DJ sets, which seamlessly hop from disco to Chicago house to spaced-out techno and back again. When she plays records, she does so in a way that's steeped in awareness of electronic music's history and its context — but also in a joyous, gleeful way, unabashedly appealing to dancers and to record geeks alike. For her return to As You Like It, she's joined by Secret Studio, a duo consisting of fellow Chicagoan Tyrel Williams and Bryan Bai-ee, Los Angeles' Joe Bickle, and AYLI resident Mike Gushansky.

Go BANG! featuring Jimmy DePre at The Stud, 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, July 4. Free before 10 p.m., $10 after;

Is there any music more quintessentially American than disco? That's a rhetorical question, but the point stands — disco is as American as apple pie, hairy chests, and fireworks. And the latest edition of Go BANG! happens to fall on July 4. Which means celebrating Independence Day with a disco soundtrack, of course. For the uninitiated, Go BANG! is a monthly disco-centric shindig happening every first Saturday at The Stud, featuring guest DJs alongside the party's residents, Sergio Fedasz and Steve Fabus (the latter of whom has been DJing in San Francisco in some way, shape, or form since the late '70s). Their selection of tunes runs deep — these guys aren't disco dilettantes; they go for the high energy (and hi-NRG), hard-hitting sounds of the disco underground, the kind of tunes techno and house producers have mined for decades. The party always attracts a mixed crowd that loves to dance, so make sure you come dressed to sweat, per the party's motto.
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