This is not your father's house music. Representing a new breed of North American house music, the latest edition of Sure Thing features two young artists, each with a new twist on a classic sound.
First is Galcher Lustwerk, a New Yorker who puts together some of the sultriest deep house cuts available, most of them built around his silky-smooth voice. He's neither a singer nor a rapper but something in between — one can only imagine that, after finishing a particularly groovy tune, he lights up a joint, sinks in, and lets himself free-associate till the deed is done. The results are simply intoxicating: Look up his 100% Galcher mixtape if you're unfamiliar, and treat yourself.
Then there's Nautiluss, a Torontonian by way of Montreal whose work is the most “techno” of these three headliners. In a just world Nautiluss' work could be called “tech-house,” but to do so would place him among the exceptionally bland, soulless electronic music that populates the Beatport Top 100. Rather, Nautiluss borrows bits and pieces from across the house-techno spectrum, deploying vocal samples alongside the occasional breakbeat or Detroit techno synth flourish; the result sounds like the future coming to pay the present a visit.
Sure Thing resident Aaron J is on warm-up duty, and local selectors Nackt and Tyrel Williams will are also on board, going back-to-back in place of Scottish artist Linkwood, who had to cancel his appearance.
Other worthy parties this week
Cut Copy DJs and more at Mezzanine, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, July 18. $25-$30; mezzaninesf.com
Cut Copy is one of those bands that does one thing, and it does it very well. The four-man Australian act has been at it since the early 2000s, tweaking and refining its simple-but-effective formula, in which it mines the electronic music of yesteryear (specifically disco — Italo and otherwise — and new wave-styled synthpop) and reshapes it into effortlessly catchy dance-pop. This weekend, two of the bandmembers, Dan Whitford and Tim Hoey, descend upon Mezzanine for a Cut Copy DJ set, in which you can expect them to rinse out their influences to full dancefloor effect. Expect a good deal of disco (both current and classic), some warm, sunny house music, and hopefully some gloriously cheesy '80s selections. On support duty are Knightlife, Cut Copy's labelmate from Melbourne; local promoter Jeffrey Paradise; and Cooper Saver, a young DJ and promoter whose notoriety has risen alongside that of his L.A.-based party and tape label, Far Away.
Lights Down Low presents Silent Servant at Monarch, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, July 18. $10-$15; monarchsf.com
On the heretofore-nonexistent shortlist of Most Important American Techno Artists Of The Last Decade, Silent Servant ranks near, or at, the very top. The long-active producer and DJ (his techno roots run back to the late '90s, when he recorded as Jasper and ran a San Francisco-based record label, Cytrax, with local stalwart Kit Clayton) introduced his Silent Servant alias in the mid-2000s, as part of the Sandwell District collective, and helped usher in a new era for techno where mood, atmosphere, and emotion reigned supreme. Behind the decks he's a virtuoso, connecting the dots between post-punk, techno, industrial music and more, occasionally dipping into the deep wells of disco and new wave. Despite the gloomy aesthetics that pervade Silent Servant as a musical endeavor, his DJ sets are party-focused, and in his hands otherwise dreary tunes can sound remarkably joyous. On warm-up duty is none other than I, your humble party columnist himself.
Night Light: Multimedia Garden Party at SOMArts, 8:30 p.m.-midnight Saturday, July 18. $12-$15; somarts.org
San Francisco's arts communities have had it rough lately. Anyone who's been paying attention to the news for the past couple of years knows the story: The Bay Area's median income has skyrocketed, thanks to the success of Silicon Valley; rents go up accordingly; and artists, facing eviction and sky-high costs of living, flee en masse. And yet that's not the full story, because there's still a remarkable amount of culture happening every week in this city. Night Light, an annual party and show produced by nonprofit arts incubator SOMArts, is the proof in the pudding. Produced in conjunction with a staggering number of artists (nearly 90 total), the event is an audiovisual extravaganza, featuring visual and performance artists alongside sound artists and musicians. It's impossible to mention all the talent involved here, but savvy attendees shouldn't miss works by Aja Vision, Russell Butler, Sophia Wang & Tooth, Andy Puls, MJ Bernier, and many more.
Robot Ears presents Sam Paganini at Mighty, 10 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Friday, July 17. $15-$20; mighty119.com
Local promoter and party host Robot Ears has carefully homed in on a very specific sound: the heavy, kinetic machine music that is classic European techno. Refined to a science by artists like Adam Beyer, Marco Carola, Cari Lekebusch, and Speedy J, this particular breed of techno is as no-nonsense as it gets, generally stripping away melody to focus on the groove, with hard-driving kick drums and tight-knit percussion patterns (often with a tribal flavor) keeping the energy moving forward. Sam Paganini, hailing from Italy, has been producing and DJing this kind of hard-driving techno since 1994. Unlike some of his contemporaries who tend to focus on percussive elements to maintain momentum, Paganini likes to play with bass — his tunes feature rubbery, bouncy bass lines that keep the groove going every which way. Joining him on support duty are Robot Ears' resident DJs, Fabian Campos, John Kaberna, and Amber Cox.