Better than: Any 18+ party thrown in the past five years.
Electro died last Saturday following a fatal encounter with long-time promoter and collaborator Jeffrey Fare (also known as Jeffrey Paradise). This comes after a long run in the public eye and a heroic struggle to stay relevant well past its prime. Surviving it are family members nu-disco, indie-house, and a strong undercurrent of L.A.-based dance music.
Well, anyway, that's how it would be written if electro were a living entity and Jeffrey Paradise had actually killed it. But an obituary is as fitting as anything when you consider the gravity of what happened this Saturday at Blow Up Forever, the latest incarnation of Jeffrey Paradise and Ava Berlin's Blow Up party. Featuring a thorough roster of artists spread out across three dance floors at San Francisco's historic -- and recently re-opened -- Factory (a.k.a. The Sound Factory), last Saturday's Blow Up changed the game entirely by introducing the new sound of indie-leaning house and nu-disco to the next generation of San Francisco club kids. All this and it was a damn good party, too.
Entering the Factory is an immediately impressive experience, something like being launched into Disney's Space Mountain: you hike up some stairs and find yourself in a dark hallway bathed in the disorienting buckshot of laser beams. Underneath you, the floor vibrates with bass tones being pumped from the many dance floors, lounges, nooks, and crannies.My girlfriend and I made our way through the maze to find local duo Amen Brother slaying the cavernous main room with a delirious set of jack trax, deep house, and disco accompanied by the low-bodied oomph of their on-stage live TR-909 drum machine. They whipped the crowd into a frenzy and finished their set with Moodymann's classic "Shades of Jae." It was immediately apparent that the club had good sound: surrounding the room were huge, minivan-sized speaker arrays. (I later learned the sound guy used to own the I-Beam, go figure).
Wanting to take in the full picture, we backtracked to the smaller dance floor to find Acid Girls playing Azari & III's "Manic" for an eager and jumping crowd. At one point, the floor parted to allow for an elaborate dance-off between a young b-girl and a Kung Fu-obsessed raver. I'm not sure who won, but if rhythm were a judge, I'd pick the girl.Meanwhile, back in the main room, Cosmic Kids had taken over for Amen Brother. They kept the room dancing with a perfect blend of modern cuts and contemporary classics. The room packed up considerably during their set, with a varied mixture of club kids, ravers, adults (granted, they were cougars), and San Francisco's hipsterati dancing side-by-side.
Following Cosmic Kids was a DJ set by Poolside, Jeffrey Paradise's laidback disco project with L.A.-producer Filip Nikolic. They floored the crowd with a set of smart underground classics mixed with their own original productions. The crowd ate it up to the point that nobody seemed to care when the fog machines set off the fire alarms mid-set. Admittedly, it was disconcerting, at first but Paradise turned down the music, got on the mic and reassured the audience, "It's just the fire alarm, no biggie, LET'S PARTY!" He slammed the volume back up and the crowd went crazy.Pride of place for the evening goes to the always-excellent Glass Candy. Literally bouncing onto the stage, Ida No and Johnny Jewel delivered a high-octane set of infectiously danceable Italo disco. The crowd reached such a fever pitch that at one point, during their cover of Belle Epoque's "Miss Broadway," a punk rocker made an unsuccessful attempt at stage diving. Singer No quipped, "C'mon! Put some muscle into it!"
Not wanting to miss what was happening in the other room, we doubled-back to find ourselves greeted by the atonal blare of Drop the Lime (a.k.a. Luca Venezia). The music is hard to comment on as he was running the system into distortion, but his live show was on point: he worked the EQ like a pro, dropped in and out of tracks with a surgical precision, and his larger-than-life rockabilly persona obviously rubbed the crowd the right way.
The last big headliner was L.A.-based Classixx, who took the main stage and continued in a nu-disco vein with choice cuts that pushed the crowd to mob the stage and dance in a huge mass behind the DJ booth. The only faults of their set were some careless volume spiking and a rather bland stage presence -- they looked like two accountants that had just rolled out of bed. Nobody seemed to care though, especially when they finished their set with a rare live edit of Prince's "I Wanna Be Your Lover."
The good: The sound system, Glass Candy, Amen Brother's TR-909, 19-year-olds dancing to Moodymann, the lightshow by Futureweapons, the extremely diverse crowd, relatively cheap drinks, the inclusive vibe, great music, and the crossover of genres.
The bad: DJs that don't know how to read a VU meter, the goon that got on stage and rapped during Poolside's set, girls on levamisole, the intense TSA-style security, and the lack of free water.
Suggestions: The main room needed to be quite a bit darker. The three projectors being run, though visually interesting, kept the room too bright.
Soundtrack of the evening:
1. Moodymann - Shades of Jae
2. Matthew Dear - Dog Days
3. Fred Wesley and the J.B.s - House Party
4. Drop the Lime - Sex Sax
5. Poolside - Do You Believe (Vin Sol & Charles McCloud Remix)
6. Arthur Russell - This is How We Walk on the Moon (Youth Return to Base Edit)
7. Lifelike & Kris Menace - Discopolis
8. Classixx - Into the Valley (Julio Bashmore Remix)
9. Rogerseventytwo - Take Me Higher
10. Prince - I Wanna Be Your Lover