The Top 5 Parties in San Francisco This Weekend: DJ Harvey, Terrence Parker, Pete Tong, and More

Harvey Varga

FACE and Lights Down Low presents DJ Harvey and Waze & Odyssey at Public Works, 9:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Friday, May 8. $17-$20; publicsf.com

Ah, Harvey! Ah, humanity! The legend returns, making one of his quarterly-or-so appearances in San Francisco this Friday. Harvey is the consummate DJ; the “DJ's DJ,” writ large; the kind of DJ who'll play a crusty disco joint you first heard on your parents' hi-fi when you were a kid, back in their discotheque days, followed by some searing minimal techno that sounds like an exploding star, and make it work without missing a beat.

[jump] When press outlets write about Harvey, they often trot out that “you can't understand [Harvey] until you've had group sex on ecstasy” quote — which is totally untrue, since group sex on many other kinds of drugs approximates the Harvey experience. (Ahem.) In all seriousness, it's a silly quote because the magic of Harvey lies in his ability to play to any kind of crowd — newcomers, seasoned heads, amateurs, parents, warehouse ravers, day-party pool-side debutantes — and make them lose it on the dancefloor. Harvey's versatility is neither gimmick nor artifice but is, instead, born of a passionate love for music of all kinds, which reflects itself in the breadth of his playlists. Disco, house, techno, funk, soul, R&B, trip-hop, ambient, psychedelic rock: Harvey's range seems to know no bounds, and in the hands of a lesser DJ this variety might be cumbersome, but not in Harvey's. He knows what he's doing.

Upstairs in Public Works' Loft, Lights Down Low is taking over, featuring special guests Waze & Odyssey, the duo whose R&B-flavored basement-house has placed it at the forefront of modern British house music. LDL residents Corey Sizemore and Richie Panic will be supporting in the Loft, while FACE resident Eug holds it down in the main room. Get ready to party.

Other worthy parties this week

Surface Tension presents Talker, Patricia, and Karl Meier at F8, 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, May 8. $10-$20; feightsf.com

If you're in the mood for something heavy this weekend, this is the party for you. The lineup here offers two distinct flavors, sweet 'n' sour style. The first headliner, Patricia, is part of a new cadre of young Brooklyn-based producers (mostly affiliated with buzzy record label L.I.E.S.) who make surreal, dreamy techno and house. Patricia's sound, in particular, is lo-fi techno for lovers, sensual and a little bit erotic, with warm, hazy synth pads that sound like sunsets look. On the flipside, Talker is a duo based out of Chicago that produces crunchy, high-octane industrial techno. Affiliated with techno legend Regis' Downwards label, Talker is moody, elegant, and possesses a finely-honed balance between all-out aggression and calculated restraint. It tends to leave restraint at the door when performing live, however, so come prepared to dance. Karl Meier — half of Talker — will be DJing afterward, playing deep techno well into the night. Surface Tension's resident DJs (full disclosure: your party columnist is one of them) will be opening up the night.

The Boombox Affair presents Terrence Parker at Fat Grape Winery, 3 p.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, May 9. $10-$20; fatgrapewinery.com

Springtime in San Francisco means sunshine, warm weather, and day parties. The Boombox Affair is a crew of local DJs and, well, their boom boxes — chained together and working in tandem, they make for a perfect mobile sound system that sounds just as good as it looks. This time around, Detroit house music mastermind Terrence Parker will be making an appearance, slinging soulful deep house in the late afternoon sun. Although Detroit is commonly associated with techno (for good reason), the city has also produced numerous legendary house musicians, like Moodymann, Kevin Saunderson, and Parker himself. Parker borrows heavily from disco and funk, sampling tightly-wound bass lines to build hypnotically funky house tunes, the perfect kind of music for dancing outside on a Saturday evening. The Boombox Affair resident DJs Ilya Galperin and Larry Gonnello Jr. will be on support duties, playing warm, inviting disco and house till the sun goes down.

SET and Robot Ears present Popof at Monarch, 9:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Saturday, May 9. $10-$20; monarchsf.com

French producer and DJ Alexander Paounov, also known as Popof, has been at it since 1996, when he released his first record on a French hard techno label. He's been working tirelessly since then, releasing several records a year and touring the world regularly. His career trajectory is interesting: His early work was hard, fast, and heavy on the breakbeats, reflecting his coming up in the early French rave scene. These days he's slowed down the pace and brought the intensity down a notch, favoring sleek, minimal techno and groovy, bass-heavy tech-house, often presented on Sven Väth's Cocoon record label, but the rave stylings of his past never totally disappeared, which is why his tunes sound a great deal more exciting than a lot of the bog-standard tech-house his peers are producing these days. Opening up for him are a couple locals affiliated with the SET and Robot Ears crews, Fabian Campos and Zita Molnar.

It's All Gone Pete Tong with Kölsch and Ricoshëi at Public Works, 9:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Saturday, May 9. $24-$30; publicsf.com

British mega-DJ Pete Tong returns to San Francisco with his “All Gone Pete Tong” showcase in tow, this time featuring tech-house newcomers Kölsch and Ricoshëi. For the unfamiliar, Tong is one of the world's biggest DJs, serving as the producer and host of BBC Radio 1's Essential Mix, which may very well be the highest-profile platform worldwide for DJs to showcase their skills. As a DJ himself, Tong is simultaneously remarkably bland and impressively talented: Tong shamelessly plays what the crowd wants to hear, in only the way a DJ who's been around for as long as he has can. Joining him is Kölsch, an upstart affiliated with German institution Kompakt, who produces irresistibly groovy, melodic tech-house that contains no surprises but is guaranteed to lead dancefloors into hands-in-the-air ecstasy, and Ricoshëi, an even newer producer building a career on the strength of one poppy house anthem with silky-smooth vocals, “Perfect Like You.”

View Comments