One of the most fascinating quirks of electronic music is how regional scenes are closely tied to specific sounds. Detroit is synonymous with techno (Berlin is too, for that matter); Chicago is essentially synecdoche for house music; New York and disco are forever linked, thanks to that city's Studio 54 and Paradise Garage clubs. On the flip side, this means that whenever a producer or artist from outside of a given region tries his or her hand at a style of electronic music typically associated with said region, interesting results may occur.
[jump] This is precisely the case with Tornado Wallace, a young producer and DJ from Melbourne whose star is steadily rising. Speaking generally, Wallace makes deep house flavored with disco, or disco flavored with deep house; whatever you want to call it, his tracks pair the elementally funky groove of the former with the spaced-out soulful atmospherics of the latter. He clearly has a thing for Balearic flavor, too, the name given to the slower psychedelic, guitar-centric grooves popularized on Ibiza in the late '80s. In the hands of a lesser producer, borrowing these distinctive sounds is often the mark of a mere copycat. But Wallace has proven himself to be innovative and agile, using his influences to create something fresh and new rather than same-old, same-old.
Expect to hear all of this influence bubbling up to the surface during his DJ set, so prepare for a proper journey. And there's more: A special farewell set by Shawn Reynaldo, beloved local curmudgeon and mastermind behind the defunct Icee Hot party, now ditching San Francisco for Barcelona. Oh, and the Honey Soundsystem crew, too. You know them. You love them. Bask in it.
Other worthy parties this week
This new happy hour, occurring every Friday 6 p.m.-10 p.m., heralds the return of short-lived-but-very-fun party Play It Cool, which focuses on warm, sunny Balearic disco and house vibes. Even more importantly, it heralds the return of 222 Hyde, now called The Basement, one of San Francisco's most beloved venues — lovingly known as “the rave cave,” 222 Hyde was a miniscule venue (it felt packed to the gills with 120 people) with a powerful sound system; the dancefloor is underground, at the base of a small staircase, with a low ceiling. It was truly one of the best places to experience dance music in San Francisco, and it's on its way back. Play It Cool will be setting up shop every Friday evening, with happy hour drink specials ($2 beers!) 6-8 p.m. Plus, it'll be playing groovy, gently danceable tunes, making for the perfect way to unwind from your workweek.
Sunset Soundsystem & Disco Knights Spring Boat Party featuring Kim Ann Foxman aboard the San Francisco Spirit + Afterparty at Monarch, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday, April 26. $65; sunsetsoundsystem.com
This Sunday, Sunset Soundsystem teams up with Burning Man camp and DJ collective Disco Knights to host a lavish boat party, setting sail aboard the San Francisco Spirit for a cruise around the bay, with an afterparty at Monarch. The special guest this time around is Kim Ann Foxman, who got her start as part of DFA disco-house act Hercules & Love Affair; she has since split off from the group to focus on DJing, a career change that makes perfect sense after hearing her behind the decks. Put simply, Foxman is a phenomenal DJ who threads together many different strains of house and disco music in a way that makes them greater than the sum of their parts. She's a fabulously fun DJ, easily accessible but equipped with deep knowledge of dance music history (and a record collection to match). After the boat, the party continues at Monarch, with music provided by both Sunset's and Disco Knights' resident DJs.
CNTRL presents Richie Hawtin, Chris Liebing, Matrixxman, and Ean Golden at DNA Lounge, 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, April 24. $30; dnalounge.com
In what might be one of the strangest developments in techno this year, legendary acid-techno pioneer Richie Hawtin (known as Plastikman in his halcyon days) is taking a break from his sake club on Ibiza (it's a long story) to embark on a “college tour” of North America with a handful of fellow techno legends (and newcomers) in tow. It's focused on “technological” DJs (i.e., digital DJs, reflecting Hawtin's early-adopter status in digital DJ technology), and it's aimed at students, especially those who are fans of EDM (seemingly designed to introduce the EDM crowds to “real” techno); accordingly, the party is 18+, not 21+. Hawtin is headlining, of course, a sure draw for many (although in this author's opinion, these days Hawtin goes for limp-wristed tech-house of the blandest variety), but it's his guests that really stand out: Chris Liebing, boss of German techno institution CLR, will bring the heavyweight techno, and SF favorite Matrixxman supports alongside DJ Tech Tools' Ean Golden.
Sure Thing featuring Kahn, MGUN, and Koehler at F8, 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, April 24. $10-$20; feightsf.com
Party upstart Sure Thing's latest lineup features a spate of artists whose bread-and-butter is breaking down boundaries between genres and sounds. Kahn, for those unfamiliar, is a Bristolian producer and DJ; as part of that city's Young Echo collective, he and his compatriots are responsible for some of the most exciting music of the past several years, blurring the lines between grime (a potent, aggressively British kind of rap, essentially), dubstep, bass music, and everything in between. MGUN is a young producer from Detroit, with a steady stream of releases on international labels since 2012; he's taking Detroit techno in new, experimental directions, making it grittier and weirder. Meanwhile, Koehler is a long-haired Swede with just a handful of releases to his name, all of which use borrowed influences from breakbeat, garage, and two-step to push the limits of what techno can be. Finally, a selection of local DJs (full disclosure: your party columnist is one of them) will be opening and closing in F8's front and back rooms.