It's safe to assume that anyone who has been interested in electronic music, DJ culture, or dance music in general has heard Pete Tong's booming voice providing background details and context (in his lush, larger-than-life British accent) on the world's top DJs at some point over the past two decades. The British mega-DJ is best known for hosting the Essential Mix on BBC Radio 1, a 21-year-old radio show in which DJs from around the globe showcase their sounds for two hours straight. One of the oldest and most relevant institutions in dance music, the Essential Mix allows veteran DJs the chance to reinvent themselves and provides up-and-coming DJs the opportunity to break out onto a global stage, exposing them to an audience of millions.
Tong is, of course, a much-lauded DJ in his own right, landing residencies in Ibiza throughout the mid-2000s. In 2011, he launched his “All Gone Pete Tong” nights at Pacha, which he's taking on tour to San Francisco and beyond, bringing some of his favorite DJs with him. He's a populist DJ through-and-through; throughout his career, he's championed dance music that is popular above all, playing progressive trance throughout the '90s and early '00s and, lately, focusing on big-room tech-house (think Maya Jane Coles and Hot Natured). Since he features DJs from every genre and style on the Essential Mix, however, don't be surprised if the occasional underground anthem sneaks in among the better-known cuts.
Joining him is Matthew Dear, one of electronic music's best-known chameleons (he's produced synthpop, hard-bangin' techno, and electronic-influenced rock with a full band at various points in his career), for a main-room DJ set. Up in the Loft, rising star Kim Ann Foxman takes over with Honey Soundsystem's Jackie House. No matter what you're into, expect to find something to your taste with this line-up.
Other worthy parties this week
FACE and Public Works present DJ Harvey at Public Works, 9:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 21. $17-$20; publicsf.com
Some DJs make a name for themselves by playing top-notch music, earning respect through the strength of their selections alone. Others are known for their personalities, for knowing how to work with and hype up a crowd. Rare is the DJ who manages to do both at once; DJ Harvey is one of the few. The British DJ (now based in L.A.) has spent the last 30-ish years jockin' discs to hungry crowds, blending vintage disco with contemporary house music and everything in between. Over the last 10 years or so, the rising tide of indie-flavored disco and disco-flavored indie has lifted Harvey along with it, exposing him to a whole new American audience. He doesn't just stick to disco, though: Expect to hear deep house, some funk, perhaps even heavy industrial techno. FACE resident Eug opens up the night until Harvey takes over and shuts it down.
Disorder presents Drab Majesty, Ssleeping DesiresS, and Normalien at The Knockout, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 20. $6; theknockoutsf.com
After a nearly yearlong period of dormancy, Thursday marks the return of Disorder, a semi-regular party for the black-clad set focused on minimal wave, synthpop, EBM, industrial, and related dark-tinged tunes. There are three headliners this time around: Drab Majesty is coming up from L.A., sounding like a retro-modern take on The Cure with shoegazer guitars and breathy, earnest vocals; local act Ssleeping DesiresS, whose synthpop/wave stylings are surprisingly catchy, the kind of thing you'll find stuck in your head after a few listens; and Normalien, the odd man out — and my pick of the lineup for that reason — whose simple, stripped-down, moody aesthetic gives his music the feeling of bedroom pop made by robots. Nickie, party host and resident DJ, will spin dark dance music until the wee hours, so come prepared with your dancing shoes (or combat boots).
Make It Funky and Ewroc Productions present Anthony Mansfield at Underground SF, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, Nov. 21. Free; undergroundsf.com
Anthony Mansfield has been around the block in San Francisco, growing up alongside the Wicked Crew's full-moon raves in the '90s. After a stint in New York, he returned to San Francisco and started making a name for himself, promoting parties and DJing alongside co-conspirator DJ M3. He's also well-known for his Burning Man efforts, steering the ship that is the Disco Knights theme camp. In the past couple years, Mansfield has built up a sizable output of his own productions, often collaborating with other Bay Area DJs and producers like Garth and Tal Klein. Mansfield's DJ sets veer toward the funkier, disco-influenced end of the spectrum, with the occasional house banger thrown in to keep you on your toes. Fortune Cookie and Evan McSweeney will be providing DJ support till Mansfield takes over.
Restless Nites SF presents Fred Falke, Midnight Magic, and Navid Izadi at Mezzanine, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 22. $20; mezzaninesf.com
If you've been patiently awaiting the announcement of Daft Punk's next U.S. live dates (it's been seven years since its last American appearance), look out — Fred Falke is about as close as you're gonna get until the Punks decide to tour again. The Frenchman is best known for his string of 12-inches and remixes in the early- and mid-2000s, co-produced with Alan Braxe, that pioneered the “French filter house” sound: warm, dreamy, melancholic dancefloor burners, built from samples of vintage disco and synthpop records and structured around repetitive, hypnotic loops and grooves. Expect his DJ set to contain a lot of his own jams, some vintage jackin' house cuts, and perhaps even some spacey, tripped-out vibes. Live sets from Midnight Magic, a vocal-heavy indie dance act, and local Wolf + Lamb affiliate Navid Izadi round out the bill alongside DJ Mozhgan.