It's Halloween, so hopefully you've got a costume ready and have taken Friday off from work. As can be expected, the city's going all-out, with plenty of opportunities to completely black out from the intensity. How to pick between everything? We've got this handy list of worthy ways to celebrate the passage of this most freaky of holidays. Read on -- your weekend awaits.
9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. $5-15
Earlier this month, Honey Soundsystem ended its weekly residency at the Holy Cow with a massive party in honor of San Francisco hi-NRG icon Patrick Cowley. That, however, did not mark the end of Honey Soundsystem as a promotional entity; instead it's going on to promote bigger and more involved events than ever. One of them is this weekend, a freaky Halloween party thrown collaboratively with like-minded outfit No Way Back at F8, a low-key, late-night club in SOMA.
The headliner is WT Records label head William Burnett, DJing under his Willie Burns moniker. He's a longtime New York resident whose abrasive dance releases -- on respected underground labels like L.I.E.S., Sequencias, and Creme Organization -- have made him a celebrated phenomenon in recent years. His sound is lo-fi and gritty, emblematic of a scene that dispenses with modern digital technology in favor of the bulky equipment of yesteryear. In fact, Willie Burns as an alias evolved from his developing interest in dance music and old-school samplers. "Willie Burns happened just because of the [E-mu sampler] SP-12 that I've got in the studio," he told URB magazine. "It's really limiting, you only have five seconds of sample time. [But], you can make a track in 10 minutes." Because of this fixation, his tracks have the flair of a different era; songs like "Pong in a Tracksuit" and "Overlord" are stripped down, sounding like lost tape experiments from some abandoned '80s Detroit warehouse party. His music has ominous dimensions, which makes him extremely well-suited for the demands of Halloween.
While Burnett will undoubtedly be bringing the scare, his onslaught ought to be tempered by the comparably lighthearted Split Secs, a Los Angeles duo consisting of Alexandre Mouracade and Travis TK Disko (who, it should be noted, earned his chops DJing during San Francisco's '90s rave moment). Their discography is short, but in the past three years they've developed a quick following for their fun, nostalgic take on vocal house and disco. Last year they topped a lot of DJ charts with the sleeper hit, "Slave," a dominatrix ballad set to shuffling hi-hats and stomping Chicago-style kick drums. Onstage, they DJ together, navigating their way through a blend that's indebted to the structure of disco and house, but injected with a contemporary edge meticulously engineered to move dancefloors.
Both Willie Burns and Split Secs on their own would attract attention, but combine them with Honey's penchant for decorations and ambience, and you have the makings of an inevitably epic Halloween.
9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. $15-$20
You can't beat Minus when it comes to festival-sized techno. Richie Hawtin's label is a global force for all things booming, repetitive, and minimal. For Halloween, it's taking over Public Works to shine a spotlight on acts like Gaiser and Matador, two performers who made waves with their shows at the label's ENTER. Space Ibiza summer residency. Listen to this mix of Gaiser playing live at Ushuaia Beach Hotel in Ibiza.
10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1. $5-$8
Haçeteria may have started as an ode to Factory Records notorious Haçienda nightclub, but it's since morphed into the central hub in San Francisco's burgeoning outsider house movement. This Friday marks its third anniversary and, to celebrate, it's pairing local favorites like Bobby Browser (listen to this jawdropping recording of him performing live on his two sampler setup) and Roche with Los Angeles' Magic Touch, and a special live performance courtesy of Tokyo crooner Sapphire Slows.
9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1. $15-$30
Leave it to promotions juggernaut As You Like It to go balls-out for Halloween. This time it's a split bill: First up is Cosmin TRG, a Romanian DJ who trades in increasingly experimental techno sounds (listen to his XLR8R podcast). Then Ibizan mainstay Maya Jane Coles will take it late into the morning with her accessible, club-ready tech-house. Get ready for the party by checking out her recent set from the ENTER. Space, Ibiza closing party.
9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2 $25-$40
London-based DJ Jamie Jones might not command stadium-sized audiences in the United States, but in Europe he's at the top of the totem pole. He's an emblematic figure in contemporary tech-house, with a hazy sound that uses deep basslines, disco percussion, and sultry vocals for massive dancefloor appeal. Listen to this live mix.