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Skirting the Line: Quickly Rising DJ Maceo Plex Dances Between Light and Dark - By - March 11, 2015 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Skirting the Line: Quickly Rising DJ Maceo Plex Dances Between Light and Dark

Magic Touch

In a matter of several years, Maceo Plex has managed to all but conquer the world of house and techno. That isn't quite the full story — he has also been producing as Maetrik since 2002 — but it wasn't until he launched the Maceo Plex moniker in 2009 that he began rapidly rising up the ranks of the world's most in-demand DJs.

When listening to one of his DJ sets — or his many productions and remixes — it's easy to hear why: Maceo Plex manages to skirt the line between light and dark, underground and mainstream, or experimental and populist better than anyone else active in the scene right now. He seeks out lighter, humanistic techno and darker, moody house, finding an even keel between them. Surprisingly for someone so popular, he's good at avoiding clichés, generally steering clear of cheesy vocal-heavy tech-house or brooding techno that takes itself too seriously. And perhaps most importantly, he knows exactly how and when to deploy big, bold, hands-in-the-air melodics, the kind of dancefloor flourishes that have brought several other big-name DJs to superstardom (Sasha being the most obvious example).

Joining him is Shall Ocin, an Argentinian producer who releases music on Maceo Plex's label, Ellum. He and Solar will provide DJ support in Public Works' main room, warming up for Maceo; meanwhile, upstairs, Burning Man fixture Atish will headline the Loft while James Fish and Hoj open up for him. At the time of this writing, presale tickets have sold out, but expect a handful to be released online this week with a handful more available at the door on the night of the party — keep your eyes peeled.


Other worthy parties this week

Jackhammer Disco presents James Murphy and more at Public Works, 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Thursday, March 12. $27-$30; publicsf.com

James Murphy seems to have become something of a resident DJ at Public Works. He returns to San Francisco roughly once per quarter, always on a Thursday, always selling out the club. While many people know that James Murphy served as the frontman for arguably the most popular indie band of the last decade (LCD Soundsystem, whose seamless merging of post-punk melodics with disco beats and dancefloor rhythms turned an entire generation of listeners on to dance music), not all of those people know that Murphy has since become one of the world's most in-demand touring DJs. Expect Murphy to bust out vintage disco alongside house music that may as well be disco; opening up for him is local selector Eug of the FACE party. Up in the Loft, Adnan Sharif, known for his Forward parties, will play an extended set.

Warm Leatherette featuring Further Reductions at F8, 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, March 13. $10; feightsf.com

For a good chunk of the mid- to late aughts, the vintage sound of minimal wave and synth-punk swept underground dancefloors in San Francisco, New York, and well beyond. Thanks to the efforts of a handful of dedicated reissue labels (like San Francisco's very own Dark Entries), this nearly-forgotten genre was unearthed from the annals of history, invigorating black-clad crowds (who weren't born when these records were produced) with its punky, raw, and catchy sound. Warm Leatherette was the place to be to hear this music in San Francisco; the resident DJs spun all varieties of post-punk, minimal wave, and synth-pop, and later on, hosted live bands inspired by these vintage sounds. The party returns for a one-off on Friday the 13th, featuring Further Reductions, a technoid minimal wave duo from New York alongside most of the original DJs and new guests (full disclosure: I, the author, will also be DJing in the back room).

Monarch and Sweater Funk present Dam-Funk at Monarch, 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, March 13. $15-$20; monarchsf.com

For seven years now, Sweater Funk has been holding down a weekly funk and boogie party at The Knockout, every Sunday night. This week it's moving to Monarch on a Friday night to play host to Dam-Funk (pronounced “dame,” from his first name, Damon — not “damn”), an L.A.-based musician and DJ who has almost single-handedly brought boogie and funk back into focus around the world. Affiliated with dusty L.A. hip-hop label Stones Throw, Dam-Funk specializes in modern “synth funk,” music that borrows the rhythms and patterns of vintage funk but updates them with a new, synthesizer-heavy sound palette. These modern artists (Teeko, B. Bravo, Dibiase, and more) are also closely affiliated with L.A.'s “beat scene,” crossing over freely into hip-hop. Dam-Funk is something of a connoisseur of vintage funk and he's playing an all-vinyl set this time around, so expect a set heavy on the classics. Sweater Funk's resident DJs will be on hand to open and close the proceedings as well.

As You Like It presents Simian Mobile Disco B2B Roman Flügel, J.Phlip, DJ Spun and more at Public Works, Saturday March 14. $25-$30; publicsf.com

It seems an unlikely pairing, but that may indeed be why it works: Simian Mobile Disco, new-school darlings of the indie-rock-tronica scene, performing a back-to-back DJ set with Roman Flügel, an old-school legend who has been producing electronic music of all stripes since the early '90s. Since its debut album in 2007, Simian Mobile Disco has progressed steadily further down the path of “purist” techno, culminating in a series of recent collaborations with established techno producers (including Flügel). Expect a long-form DJ set of warm, melodic, inviting techno — nothing too strange and nothing too poppy, either. Dirtybird fixture J.Phlip joins As You Like It residents Mossmoss and Bells & Whistles for support duty downstairs; meanwhile, the Loft will be taken over by DJ Spun, a New York-based California expat, and will feature the Loose Control Band, a collaborative live acid house project between himself and Jonah Sharp (Spacetime Continuum), with an opening DJ set by No Way Back's Conor.