Drum & bass was, for a moment, a trademark San Francisco sound. Beginning in the mid-'90s, the rapid, hyper-kinetic sound rippled through the Bay Area rave scene (in its heyday at that time), finding its way into the city's club nights and record shops. (For an in-depth examination of drum & bass' history in the Bay Area, especially the influence of the all-female crew Eklektic, read Shawn Reynaldo's excellent “Nightclubbing” feature published recently by Red Bull Music Academy.) By the early-mid aughts, as the first tech boom wound down and began permanently altering the character of the city, drum & bass all but disappeared from San Francisco dancefloors.
[jump] The sound may be gone, but it's not yet forgotten. Stamina Sundays is a Sunday-night d'n'b weekly party at F8, now in its fourth year of operation, bringing the sound of d'n'b, jungle, and similarly minded music back to the city. This week's party features Om Unit, a young producer and DJ from Bristol, England, who blends the sounds and rhythms of drum & bass, jungle, dubstep, and footwork, seamlessly bridging the gaps between these disparate (but connected) bass-music genres.
There's something inherently futuristic about drum & bass; its rapid tempo, its commingling of Jamaican soundsystem culture and American hip-hop, and the dark, sci-fi undercurrent that runs through the best d'n'b makes it feel like the soundtrack to a William Gibson novel. Om Unit, in particular, seems to understand this, and his DJ sets, genre-hopping as they are, are some of the most vital, forward-thinking presentations of electronic music you're liable to hear today. Drum & bass may never reattain its place atop the throne of San Francisco electronic music — but Om Unit will make you wonder why.
Other worthy parties this week
One of the most exciting scenes to bubble up in the past five-plus years is the global recontextualization of “club music” (a remarkably nondescriptive name shortened from “Baltimore club,” a reference to the mid-Atlantic region from which it originates), an up-tempo hybrid of house, R&B, and breakbeats. BREAD, a new party, focuses on bringing artists working in this continuum to San Francisco — its second outing features Rabit, a Houston-based producer of dark, moody, and sparse beats, often working with U.K. grime producers or MCs. Rabit's newest material appears on buzzy label Tri Angle, and has some collaborations in the pipeline with Björk, who is an unabashed champion of his music — a curious pairing that will certainly expose his work to a whole new group of people. Also on deck are a whole slew of similarly minded performers from the U.K. and the U.S., with the back room hosted by “not a label” Classical Trax.
Lights Down Low presents Fort Romeau and Moderna at Monarch, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, July 25. $15-$20; monarchsf.com
Within the past decade or so, a new generation of young Britons have ignited a renewed love affair with American house music, mining the genre's endlessly fertile grounds for inspiration, committing their love letters to vinyl record. Fort Romeau is one of the latest, releasing his debut album on L.A.'s 100% Silk in 2012 and shortly thereafter signing onto Michigan mega-label Ghostly International. Listening to his tunes, it's easy to hear why Ghostly picked him up: Infused with the spirit of classic New York disco and Chicago house, they're irresistibly catchy and clearly written with songwriting in mind. Meanwhile, his latest 12″ for German label Running Back is a disco-centric slab of Balearic bliss that manages to avoid so many of the cliches other “nu-disco” producers suffer from. Joining him is Moderna, an L.A.-based DJ with a knack for mixing up lighter indie-dance fare with acid techno scorchers.
Public Works and ZERO present The Scumfrog and DoubtingThomas at Public Works, 9:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Saturday, July 25. $17-$20; publicsf.com
Two new-school house heroes descend on Public Works this Saturday. The Scumfrog is the curiously chosen DJ alter ego of one Jesse Houk, a Dutchman now residing in New York. Early in his career, in the late-'90s, his productions were high-tempo, high-energy house tracks, often with a progressive or tribal edge. Later in his career, he became a high-profile remix artist, and these days, he's a regular presence at Burning Man, playing long-form tech-house sets; expect something in this vein this weekend. Sharing the stage with him is DoubtingThomas, a French producer whose roots run back to the '90s, when he was producing ambient, downtempo tunes under a different name. He launched DoubtingThomas in 2008, hewing to a refined minimal house palette, using texture, sound design, and judiciously placed samples to build remarkably delicate-yet-dancefloor-friendly tunes. On warm-up duty is Rachel Torro, a local tech-house selector and Public Works resident.
Housepitality featuring Christina Chatfield, Cherushii, Doc Sleep, and Kimmy Le Funk at F8, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesday, July 29. $5 before 10 p.m. with RSVP, $10 after; feightsf.com
(Savvy partygoers take note: Housepitality is a Wednesday-night weekly, and because of SF Weekly's publication schedule, this party occurs next week, seven days after publication.) The last Housepitality of July features an all-star, all-female lineup that just so happens to line up some of the Bay Area's best performers under one roof. Performing live are Christina Chatfield and Cherushii, two San Francisco electronic musicians with a similar approach, but different sounds; Chatfield uses acid techno as a baseline, but journeys well beyond it into melodic, moody realms, while Cherushii's foundation is '90s Chicago house, a sound her productions simultaneously pay homage to and expand upon. On DJ duty is local stalwart Doc Sleep (who was profiled in these pages earlier this year), whose knack for weaving together many different flavors of techno and house makes her one of the city's best and most versatile selectors. Kimmy Le Funk, WERD. resident, will keep it groovy in the back room.