Outside Lands is upon us, and if you're musically inclined, that means you've got a three-day slog ahead of you. We know you'll probably be busy in Golden Gate Park during the day, but that leaves a good chunk of time at night to explore some of the sounds emanating from the city's bumping club scene. As usual, we've got you covered with a few recommendations. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9, $10-$20
Thirty years later, the Manhattan of the 1980s still carries a mythological significance in the world of underground dance music. It was there and then that the Big Apple's clubs came into their own, hosting a melting pot of ideas that were reflected in the creativity of the music. Nowhere can this be heard better than in the disco of the time, which quickly edged away from the Philadelphia-inspired soul orchestras and toward something altogether more electronic, with four-to-the-floor rhythms married to synthesizers, drum machines, and dub production techniques learned from Jamaican artists like King Tubby and Lee "Scratch" Perry. It was powerful stuff, so powerful that many artists since then have set out to replicate the spirit and sound of that moment. But while many have tried, few have managed to get as close as New York duo Metro Area (Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani). And for the first time in nearly a decade, the group will be performing live in San Francisco this Friday.
The duo's success lies in its ability to approach that era's sounds from a modern perspective. That's held true since Geist and Jesrani first shook up dancefloors in 1999 with "Atmosphrique," a live, hand-clap- and tambourine-led instrumental opus that sounded like a minimal techno producer's interpretation of Studio 54. The sensibility came both from the duo's obsessive record collecting habits and its studied stance against the direction of American dance music at the time. "We [became] disgusted with dance music -- we were buying these house records where the whole song would just be a looped sample and people would just call it their own," Geist recalled in an interview with DJhistory.com. "It was a little cheap, and we wanted to delve into how those records that were being sampled were being made."
That mentality, and the string of records it birthed, earned Metro Area a cult following of disaffected clubgoers looking for something different. Many of those fans ended up taking the group's philosophy and applying it themselves, eventually leading to the full-blown disco revival of the early-to-mid '00s through similarly minded outfits like LCD Soundsystem, the Juan MacLean, and Escort.
Despite its early successes, Metro Area went mostly silent by 2007. That changed earlier this year, when the duo released Straight A's, a two-vinyl EP containing four of the group's greatest hits, such as the aforementioned "Atmosphrique" and its '02 dancefloor smash "Miura." They may not have any new material in the pipeline, but this Friday's performance offers a rare chance to hear one of New York's finest -- and to relive that city's glory years.
9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9. $20
When the '70s became the '80s, dance music went through an awkward period of electronification. Those early years created a hybrid sound with punky vocals and arpeggiated synthesizers that's now popularly remembered as synth-pop, Italo disco, and New Wave. Though those years are over, you can relive them through the retro-inspired sounds of Portland outfit Glass Candy. Listen to "Redheads Feel More Pain" and their cover of Belle Epoque's "Miss Broadway."
9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9. $10-$20
Minimal techno just disappeared, didn't it? It seems like only yesterday that every club in the world buzzed with its glitchy yet restrained bump and click. Fans starved for a fix have an excellent opportunity this Friday, when Berlin-based heavyweight Troy Pierce (check out his "VoodooVoodoo mix") takes a turn behind Public Works' decks supported by nu-school deep house spinner Lazaro Casanova.
9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. Free
If we could compile a list of the city's top 10 zaniest parties, Galaxy Radio would be somewhere near the top. As the name suggests, it's a radio-themed monthly with over-the-top accoutrements (call letter drops, a theme song, and copious decorations) plus a team of DJs who spin sets exclusively comprised of ultra-rare European disco music. Check out SMAC's "Galaxy Radio Promo Mix."
9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. $5
Sometimes music alone isn't enough, and for those, Music Video Night is here to help. Every second Saturday, Madrone transforms into a videothèque, complete with projections of classic music videos blended by local veteran DJ 4AM. Nothing too complex, just plain-old hands-in-the-air-worthy cuts pulled from the annals of pop, hip-hop, and Top 40.