Nite Trax

Nite Trax: Esta Noche to close, adios Esta Noche

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Not even a guest starring role on Looking could save beloved Latino-oriented gay dive Esta Noche, alas! According to Eater SF, the Mission favorite is being sold by its owners -- reportedly willingly -- to the team behind SoMa meat market Wish.

The new owners take over next week, but will keep things the same for a while, in order for everyone to have some time to say goodbye. (New Mission businesses, please take note: this is how you help avoid a PR nightmare.) Then get ready for more craft cocktails and loungey vibes, Missionites! Ugh.

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Q up

Era-defining local legend DJ Qbert scratches out his first album in 16 years, Extraterrestria

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MUSIC "I always wanted to know how music sounded in outer space. And with certain types of crystals you can supposedly tune into different frequencies, receive other transmissions. Often I meditate with crystals, go to sleep, and dream about music from outer space. Then I wake up, make stuff like that on the turntables, and take it from there."Read more »

Nite Trax: Comedowns are for losers! New Year's Day parties

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You know what happens if you stop, don't you? The New Year's Eve hangover catches up. So why not just power through the next day with some of the most fortifying party crews in town? Si se puede, honey.

Here's the wheres and whenfors of one of the few days left when SF feels truly old school underground, and you can party for 28 hours straight. All whirligigs start Wednesday morning or afternoon:

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Honey Soundsystem ending Sunday parties: SF so over now :/

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That sound you hear right now? Every cool gay and/or techno nerd in the city rending their exquisitely positioned garments. Honey Soundsystem has just announced via newsletter that Oct. 20 will see the end of its weekly Sunday party at Holy Cow, one of the best overall club nights in the world. 

"We started out wanting to make house and techno a regular thing for queens -- and we did that and now it's time to move on," DJ P-Play of the collective told me. "We're glad the party is so good right now, and we're stopping it while it's hot.

"We're confident enough to move in a direction where people have to think again. Where we're going with the music, together and individually, is too complicated for a weekly night.

"Now it's up to the queens of SF to decide if they want to continue to keep this city interesting, or if they're going to settle for the same top 40 bullshit."

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Nite Trax: Scott Hardkiss, RIP

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Sad news came down the pipe yesterday that truly essential Bay Area psychedelic house pioneer Scott Hardkiss of the Hardkiss Brothers passed away at age 43. The cause hasn't been announced, but he had been having medical trouble recently with an eye implant. His last Facebook post, dated March 20, quoted Whodini: "Friends, how many of us have them, ones you can depend on?"

Well, he certainly had a lot of admirers who loved his production and DJ work, me included. Along with "brothers" Gavin and Robbie, Scott helped put the funky, pagan native sound of SF on the underground map in the early 1990s -- unafraid to mix acid and deep techno sounds with psychedelic and prog rock effects to create a sublimely ecstatic noise.

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Nite Trax: Is Beatport the new Wal-Mart of techno?

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When I heard that super-popular, infuriatingly designed dance music download site Beatport had partnered with Shazam earlier this month, I wanted to write something about how the valuable mystery of the underground might be compromised by anyone being able to hold a phone up to immediately identify and download a track. And then I wanted to contrast some of the fun measures DJs might take to prevent their tracklists (one of the few proprietary things left that can really distinguish a good DJ) from being exposed, with the simple joy of finally stumbling upon a song you'd been looking for for 22 years that instantly projects you into your gloriously wasted youth because yay Internet. The partnership might not be so bad, after all, if it leads to new discoveries and interesting subversions.

Beatport has a lot of crappy mainstream tracks on it, and the back catalogue is incredibly spotty, but it has some great stuff, too, and it's giant. (I go there once in a while to hear what a sizable audience is listening to and catch up on new releases.) And it does at least nominally reward musicmakers with some money and exposure, an opportunity to sell their handmade bedroom creations. It's kind of like Etsy for pimply boys. If Beatport-Shazam helps people find and buy some great new tracks, then fine. I also remember how cute the Denver-based Beatport was in the beginning, its candy-raver-like representatives handing me alien-looking free download credit cards at Pride and Love Parade and the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. Awww.  

But then I read this super-annoying but awesomely candid Billboard interview with Beatport CEO Matthew Adell about the partnership, and thought, "Hey, if they're gonna treat underground music as just a big business to be repackaged and monetized, (albeit one they seem to enjoy at least a little), then they can defend the Shazam partnership from angry DJs their own damn selves." 

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Nite Trax: 222 Hyde is closing :(

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Oh jeez, sad news this morning from EO, owner of great, actually-underground rave cave 222 Hyde. Due to a change in ownership of the nightlub's building, and some continued trouble with the ABC state liquor and license patrol, 222 will be closing March 9.

There's gonna be a huge closing party that night of course! (Stay tuned for details.)

This marks the loss of one of the most truly open-eared venues to come along in a while, a space that had room - well, a little room, at least, that basement dancefloor got packed! -- for ambitious electronic experiment as well as balls out crowd pleasers, but always on the cutting edge. The staff is pretty great, too -- and the space itself is a historic nightlife landmark. I don't want to make any grand statements about the blandification of SF nightlife, you've heard it all before, but 222's size insured that lesser-known acts, or ones not so familiar in the US, could perform to a vibing dancefloor, rather than risk the cost of larger venues. (And I regret not making it to some of the recent parties like Wednesday's "What?!" party and the appearance by Skooz. Next time!)

EO will continue on with his ear-grabbing electronic music production -- I wish him and his staff well and thank you for the music! Let's make sure the next few weeks and the closing party are real blowouts. EO's message to me after the jump:

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Nite Trax: DJ Sprinkles lays it out

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The phenomenal house DJ and experimental musicmaker on mainstream visibility, transgender globalism, Bay Area queer culture, and the "shopping mall diversity" of the current dance music scene.

Techno has always had room for theorists and intellectuals, from Derrick May to the Mille Plateaux label roster, and social activists, like Moodymann and Underground Resistance. Most of that discourse usually takes place musically, however, with concepts emerging from the vinyl itself. The celebrated DJ Sprinkles, a.k.a. Terre Thaemlitz, the American head of Japan-based label Comatonse, tops all that by making intellectually grounded music glimmering with poetic touches and expounding in interviews and writing on such heady, heated topics as essentialism, gender idenitity, surveillance, and authenticity. She leads workshops, goes on speaking engagements, and isn't afraid to let loose in interviews. (For example -- see below -- rather than "born this way" platitudes, she considers her queer identity "beat this way.") 

It's a beautiful thing, especially in the rare context of controversial truth and radical opinion pouring from the mouth and keyboard of an outspoken transgender major player on the stubbornly homogenous global house-techno DJ scene. Of course, it all comes down to the music -- we'll get a treat when Sprinkles (who chose the name because he wanted something that sounded "totally pussy" in opposition to macho DJ culture, to buck the testosteronal scene) performs Sun/24 at Honey Soundsystem -- and Sprinkles certainly has the goods. He's released umpteen pieces in an astoundng breadth of genres under multiple pseudonyms over the past 20 years. Masterpiece deep house album "Midtown 120 Blues" siezed the top of several best of 2009 charts and was, typically, followed by Soulnessless, a 30-hour "mp3 album" of music and video. Because why the hell not?

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Nite Trax: DJ MikeQ leads the vogue beats boom, beats back bandwagon

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"SO TIRED OF PEOPLE DOING RECORDS AND EVEN WHOLE EPS BASED ON VOGUE WHEN ALL THEY KNOW IS PARIS IS BURNING AND HAVE NEVER EVEN BEEN TO A BALL," awesome new-generation vogue beats pioneer MikeQ (appearing with Big Freedia Fri/8 at the Lights Down Low party at Mezzanine) recently posted on his Facebook. And it's true: vogueing culture and its music has been choppin, mopping, and dropping to the fore of dance music lately -- a joyful salute the the glorious pioneers of underground black gay nightlife culture, but also, unfortunately, the latest peg of "authenticity" for producers wanting to get some trendy attention.     

MikeQ would know from all of that -- he's not only deeply rooted in New Jersey and NYC's ballroom scene (and regularly featured at Jack Mizrahi's party Vogue Knights), he and his Qween Beat production company have been at the forefront of a new generation of vogue beats pioneers that exploded in the past few years with their own styles. (I interviewed him about it in 2011). As new and affordable technology makes it possible for bedroom producers to create, emulate, and transform the traditional "Ha" slam beat that drives vogueing battles, the "Ha" has taken on new life. Now it's the "Ha" heard 'round the world. Ummmm....

And MikeQ's at the center of it all, with his ace mixing skills and his ear for cunty beats. I emailed him about his feelings regarding the latest voguesplosion, his future plans, and his upcoming recording session with Azaelia Banks.

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Nite Trax: That Icee Hot sensation

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The stimulating and excellently-eared Icee Hot crew is blasting a two-part third anniversary party at Public Works: this Sat/19 sees dreamy R&B chopper Jacques Greene (yes, the guy with the glasses from the Azaelia Banks video, but also one of my favorite producers ever) and Dutch hyperdubber Martyn on deck. Part two on Sat/26 brings in alien techno soundscapist Space Dimension Controller and astral floor-pounder Basic Soul Unit. You will find me face down on the floor in sonic worship for both. (And you may be able to score a pass to both parties for a mere $15 here.)

I've been following the oft-roving party pretty much since its inception.

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