It's nowhere near Halloween, but for some reason the city is suddenly full of parties leaning towards the darker side of nightlife. And while previous weeks have bordered on campy goth revival, this time around it's all about the cutting-edge of contemporary dark techno. If that's not your thing, not to worry, we've got plenty of more traditionally festive events to recommend as well. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2. $10-$20
The name Rrose Sélavy probably doesn't mean a whole lot to your average clubgoer. Head into the art world, however, and the mere mention of the pseudonym conjures the name of its creator, French Dadaist Marcel Duchamp, whose work includes the infamous Fountain, essentially a urinal placed in an art gallery. Like much of the man's work, Rrose Sélavy is a playful name that works out to a pun in its native tongue, "Eros, c'est la vie," or "Eros, that's life." It was an alter ego that emerged from a series of Man Ray photographs in which Duchamp appeared in drag, completely transformed. Crudely speaking, the whole project revolved around the artist's desire to push beyond all limits, gender included, and move toward the radically new. Duchamp died in 1968, but his spirit influences artists in a variety of mediums. One of them is a mysterious techno producer named Rrose, whose music is anything but playful.
Rrose first appeared in 2011, with the release of Merchant of Salt, a debut EP on the avant-garde techno label Sandwell District. It was a manifesto of a record -- a booming piece of surgical, dread-inducing sound design that fused the visceral qualities of pure noise with the body-centric approach of modern techno. The B-side, "Waterfall" (which was recently re-released alongside a number of remixes), stands as one of the best techno tracks of this decade, going beyond club appeal and into the mind-altering realm of industrial groups like Coil and Throbbing Gristle. Yet, it's never so abrasive that it becomes hard to listen to; instead, it creates an oddly soothing environment from elements of sonic mayhem. In a rare interview with Resident Advisor, Rrose says his project exists "to induce hallucinatory states, to move bodies, [and] to emphasize the tactile qualities of sound."
True to his inherited name, Rrose performs his DJ sets and live performances in drag. Like the Duchamp moniker, it's an attempt at a new identity. But it's also a form of protest. In another interview with Smart Shanghai, he said, "Whenever a person enters a stage, they become a character, and by extension, a symbol. They can choose to remain 'themselves' or sculpt their image into something different. My feminine stage presence is a playful protest against a highly masculine musical genre [techno]." So far that intersection of noise and slippery identity has attracted a sizable fanbase in the Bay Area, as well as in the global techno community. This Friday, Rrose headlines BeatBox for Honey Soundsystem and As You Like It's latest collaborative party. Check out this mix.
10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1. $5-$10
Thursdays at Vessel are a must-do for fans of sleek, contemporary tech-house. This week's edition features local duo Tone of Arc (aka Derrick Boyd and Zoe Presnick), whose laid-back and '80s-indebted sound, as heard on The Time Was Right, their freshly released debut LP, has earned them a place on the upper tier of the global touring circuit.
10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2. $5-$7
Haçeteria offers a musical respite from the digital present, harkening back to the days of analog technology. At this party, young producers recreate the house and techno sounds of the past with contemporary cues pulled from noise and indie culture. This month features Avalon Kalin, a Portland-based producer who cut his teeth as a member of disco revival outfit Glass Candy.
9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2. $5
The beating heart of Bay Area house music can be found at Taboo, the long-running Oakland monthly started by local DJ hero David Harness. It's a family affair that's now celebrating its 14th year as one of the best places to cut loose to pumping and soulful four-to-the-floor sounds.
9:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3. $10
If freaky disco and off-the-wall house is what you crave, you'd have a hard time doing better than Public Works' OddJob Loft this Saturday. There, veteran selectors Garth (from local outfit Wicked Sound System) and Eric Duncan (from NYC duo Rub-N-Tug) will join forces to provide a nightlong excursion into the cheekier side of dance music's past and present.