It's that time of year again: Halloween. The holiday is one of the best (or worst, depending on your perspective) times to party in San Francisco. Since the 31st falls on a Saturday this year, that means you have a double-header (or triple-, if you count Thursday) of Halloween madness to look forward to (or dread). You know the drill: just like New Year's Eve, gobs and gobs of out-of-towners flood the city, gallivanting in costume, eager to make memories of a crazy party weekend (promptly forgotten, of course, after the alcohol-induced blackout). In short, it's amateur hour on the party circuit, and that means careful planning is required to avoid the shit-show (or come face-to-face with it, if that's your thing — no judgment).
[jump] As an unabashed Halloween scrooge, I firmly believe that Halloween costumes, like Razr scooters, shouldn't appear in public after one graduates from junior high. Nevertheless, I accept that I'm in the minority on this one (especially here in SF), and I mention this for context: per usual, what follows are five excellent parties, Halloween or otherwise — the focus, as always, is the crème de la crème of underground electronic music, and this weekend is a doozy. No featured party this time around — just five different flavors of good old-fashioned dancefloor hedonism. Go forth and get a little crazy. It is Halloween, after all, right?
Worthy parties this week
What better way to kick off a Halloween bender than with one of America's most talented (and underrated) electronic musicians? If you don't know the name Convextion, don't feel bad — although he's been producing some of the world's finest electronic music since the early '90s, he's always flown under the radar, probably by choice. Based out of Dallas, Texas (that's right: not New York, Berlin, or London!), Convextion effortlessly threads together the industrial-strength minimalism of classic German techno (think Basic Channel, et al.) with the soulful spirit of Detroit techno and electro (think Drexciya). As Convextion, he produces deep, atmospheric dub techno; under his alias E.R.P., he produces rollicking electro. Live, he blurs the line between the two, threading them together into one glorious sonic treat — truly, he's in a league of his own. On support duty is Moscoman, a Berliner known for psychedelic tribal house.
If you need tough, no-nonsense techno to kick your Halloween weekend up a notch, Friday night at F8 is the place to be. Headliner Civil Duty is a collaborative effort between two fixtures of the American electronic music underground: Beau Wanzer, known for off-kilter, synth-heavy industrial excursions under his own name, and Shawn O'Sullivan, member of wave-synth-punk trio Led Er Est and modular techno duo Further Reductions. As Civil Duty, the pair produce hard, heavy, loop-based techno, the kind of stuff that's easy to get lost in. They're playing a live hardware set, so expect improvisation and unreleased material galore. Joining them is Minimal Violence, a Vancouver, B.C. duo who produce raw and reduced lo-fi techno. A slew of local DJs will support: Housepitality's Tyrel Williams, Sure Thing's Aaron Jen, We Are Monster's Jason Greer, VX's Justin Anastasi and Rachel Aiello, and Infinite Beat's Topazu.
Public Works presents Cassy, Catz 'n Dogz, Adana Twins, and Nikola Baytala at Public Works, 9:30 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, Oct. 30. $20-$30; publicsf.com
This diverse lineup is headed up by Cassy, a Vienna-based Briton whose career began in 1999, contributing vocals to a remix of a 1978 German space-disco classic. She took to DJing and producing soon after, releasing elegant minimal techno featuring ghastly snippets of her own voice on renowned German label Perlon, and quickly became one of the first resident DJs at Panorama Bar (the house-centric sister club to Berghain), kicking off their mix CD series in 2006. Her strength lies in her diversity: She's equally adept at performing for big festival crowds or small, intimate underground spaces, and her mixing selections (which range from deep, dubby minimal techno to melodic, inviting house) reflect that. Polish duo Catz 'n Dogz (whose music is as playful as their name) joins her in the main room alongside Nikola Baytala (an SF expat), while upstairs Germany's Adana Twins set up shop with James Fish supporting.
Dax presents Scary Party featuring Groove Armada, Seth Troxler, and Subb-an at The Midway, 9 p.m.-4 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 31. $50; themidwaysf.com
Let's say you're not a Halloween scrooge, and you want to celebrate the season with an enormous costume party featuring music that is simultaneously accessible but dancefloor-focused — this is the party for you. It's going down at The Midway, a new venue in the Dogpatch, and it's headlined by Groove Armada, a British duo who have been producing easy-to-love house-flavored grooves since the late '90s. On their latest album, Little Black Book, they've got it down to a science: catchy pop hooks paired with tightly engineered big-room house beats. It's not the most complicated stuff, but it works, and it works well. Seth Troxler, the Detroit DJ with an outsize personality and an even larger record collection, will provide deeper underground sounds for those looking for something a little headier, while Crosstown Rebels fixture Subb-an will bring his vocal-centric house selections to the floor.
Honey Soundsystem Halloween featuring Ron Like Hell and Mozhgan at Beatbox, 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 31. $15-$20; beatboxsf.com
If you want to skip the costumes and just lose yourself on a packed dancefloor filled with sweaty men, Honey Soundsystem's Halloween party will deliver the goods. The guests this time around include Ron Like Hell, one of the two resident DJs for NYC-based queer party Wrecked. Ron and Wrecked's sound and aesthetic lines up very much with Honey's: think sleazy disco, deep and dirty house, and some heady techno to keep things interesting. Also on deck is Mozhgan, one of the resident DJs for local party We Are Monsters, whose selections are gloriously genre-agnostic — she mixes up cosmic disco, raunchy electro, dark techno, diva house, and more, and somehow makes it all work together. All four Honey residents will be mixing it up between guests, to boot. (Bonus for the scrooges: the queer crowd will keep the hetero party-amateurs at bay.)