Normally, the feature slot in this column focuses on one party — but this isn't a normal weekend. For those keeping score, this weekend features more heavyweight talent in San Francisco than any other weekend of 2014 so far, and it's all kicking off with a double-header hosted by As You Like It.
The festivities begin on Thursday, when Marcel Dettmann headlines Public Works. For the uninitiated, Dettmann is the living, breathing avatar of German techno: A resident DJ at Berlin club Berghain, he's heavily involved with its record label Ostgut Ton, and produces his own brand of sharp and sleek minimal techno. His DJ sets are as good as it gets as far as techno is concerned, long-form and propulsive, composed of the finest underground techno but never employing minimalism for minimalism's sake. Joining him is Matrixxman, one of San Francisco's finest producers who has been making serious waves in the techno world recently with a number of excellent records and a European tour. Together, they make for what is probably the best Thursday night party lineup you'll see all year. Local DJs Mossmoss and Patrick Gil go back-to-back to open the night.
On Friday, As You Like It switches gears and hosts two of the world's finest deep-house producers at Monarch. Basic Soul Unit, based in Toronto, is one of the most understated producers around: He's never been in the spotlight but has released a steady stream of superb Detroit-flavored underground house music since his first record in 2003. He'll be performing live alongside Tin Man, an acid house magician whose soulful, emotional grooves sound like love letters written both by and to the Roland TB-303. Jason Kendig is joined by Bells & Whistles to open and close the night.
These two parties alone would make for a top-notch weekender, but they're just the tip of the iceberg. Read below for a mere snapshot of what else is going on.
Other worthy parties this week
Blasthaus presents the Modern Love Tour with Andy Stott, Demdike Stare, Prefuse 73, and more at 1015 Folsom, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, Sept. 26. $20-$25; 1015.com
“Dark experimental electronic music” and “crowd-pleasers” don't often go together in the same sentence, but in this case, they do. Both Demdike Stare and Andy Stott (premier artists on U.K. label Modern Love, hence the name) are astonishingly good live performers: Demdike Stare pairs the bleak, blackened atmosphere of its early career with its recent bass-heavy techno experiments, making for a live set that's both scary and danceable; meanwhile, Andy Stott's noisy, oppressive grit is leavened by a generous dose of female vocals and Amen breaks. If darkness isn't your thing, digital hip-hop producer Prefuse 73 is joined by Leatherette and local producer Brogan Bentley to dish up something on the lighter side.
Rollingtuff and Public Works present Recondite, Ten Walls, Jon Charnis and more at Public Works, 9 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 26. $17-$20; publicsf.com
Recondite is proof that underground electronic music and mainstream success aren't mutually exclusive. Recondite's first productions were moody, understated pieces of melodic techno, plaintive yet dancefloor-ready. His newer productions are just as beautifully melancholy but have even more dancefloor appeal, tugging at your heartstrings while they move your feet. Joining him are Ten Walls, a duo whose debut release on Dixon's Innervisions label, Gotham, was one of 2013's biggest deep house tracks, and Jon Charnis, a new producer also affiliated with Innervisions and Lee Burridge's All Day I Dream imprint.
Rong Music presents Daniel Wang and more at The Lookout, 5 p.m.-2 a.m., Friday, Sept. 26. $10-$20; lookoutsf.com
If the innumerable other events happening this Friday aren't to your taste — you're more of a disco person, for instance — then an extended set by disco-house legend Daniel Wang is just what the doctor ordered. Born in California, raised in New York, and now settled in Berlin, Wang has been producing and DJing disco and disco-flavored house music since 1993. Wang's productions and edits aren't disco rehashes; rather, they're timely (and timeless) interpretations of disco's spirit transplanted into new flesh, putting him far ahead of the pack. The party starts early and goes late, thanks to supporting DJs Ken Vulsion, DJ Spun, and New York's Ernie Cote, who kick things off at happy hour in preparation for Wang's longer set later on.
Gray Area presents Atom™ live at Gray Area Arts & Technology Theater, 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 27. $20-$30; grayarea.org
Uwe Schmidt, known by many aliases but best known as Atom Heart (now Atom™), is without doubt one of the most talented (and underrated) electronic musicians active today. Summing him up in a word, or a sentence, or a blurb, is impossible, but over a nearly 30-year career he has produced somewhere around 100 albums, countless singles and EPs, and shows no signs of slowing down. His latest endeavor as Atom™ is called “Ground Loop,” and it's one of his most exciting in years — it's four-to-the-floor techno, like his early Atom Heart material, but updated for the modern era, influenced strongly by his nascent partnership with German ür-techno institution Ostgut Ton. Richly melodic and designed to make you dance, it's his finest material in years, and seeing it live in person is a no-brainer.