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A Festival Dedicated to the Wobbles and the Weird

It’s that time of year again. Well, I guess if you live in San Francisco that time is about every 2 months or so. But this Sunday, May 1st, is the date for the 12th annual How Weird Street Faire in downtown San Francisco.

How Weird 2011 Poster by Brad Olsen and digipop

Many San Francisco residents are familiar with the crazy, electro-inspired festivals and parades that call San Francisco home every year – events like Gay Pride, LoveFest, Pop, etc. But I feel like How Weird doesn’t get as much publicity as the others. Maybe that’s because it isn’t as crazy as those, and hasn’t been labeled as a danger to society….yet.

How Weird kicks off San Francisco’s street fair season that goes into October, so it has to be good. But How Weird isn’t just a dance party like LoveFest or, for people not apart of the gay community, an excuse to run around naked like Pride. It showcases the city’s art and diverse culture, as well as its fondness for electronic music. Electronica, Dubstep, Electro, House, Techno, Drum & Bass, are among the many different types of music that will be performed live at the event.

The stages are setup by local music organizations, many of which put on events throughout the city, such as Temple, Groove Garden, Symbiosis, and Rebel Bass Collective, just to name a few. It’s electronic music in all its sub-genre glory. Click here to see the full lineup!

While the music is the main reason I would go, it definitely isn’t the only. How Weird has to have gotten it’s name for a reason. Along with the subculture of electronic music that will be present, how weird celebrates everyone’s inner weirdness, encouraging people to dress up, lose inhibitions, and have a good time while taking a break from the real world outside of Howard and 2nd Street. How weird attempts to create a different realm of reality – a place where people can come together and make it a “place where our differences and unique perspectives are appreciated as things of beauty, rather than causes for conflict.”

Map of How Weird by Brad Olsen

The How Weird Street Faire is a fundraiser for the local nonprofit World Peace Through Technology Organization, and states that it “uses music to bring many different kinds of people together and create a common bond. We have found that dancing knows no boundaries or political affiliation. Music, more than any other form of communication, is able to transcend differences between people. It is through music and art that peace is always possible.”

So this Sunday, May 1st from 12pm to 8pm, get out, get downtown, and get weird.

YouTube video by Temple Television

How to Dance Safe to Electronica

I have posted a lot about different artists, events, and electronic music in general over the past couple of months. What I have been meaning to post and discuss are a couple of things that are associated with electronic music culture. Well the time is now to discuss those things. Whether you see them as good or bad is up to you.

In the 80s through the 90s, the uprising of the club kids created an entire trend of club culture. With that brought a lot of drugs into the mix, and a lot of younger people were introduced to drugs for the first time. Today, it is definitely easier and seemingly more acceptable to take drugs while either at raves or nightclubs or just listening to electronic music. to I’m not here to criticize or even say that I’m all for drugs. I choose to not take a side but know that you don’t need drugs to enjoy electronic music. What I am here to talk about is how to dance safe.

Photo copyright DanceSafe

There is a nonprofit organization called DanceSafe that was created in 1999 to help people who were going to do drugs know what they were actually taking and ensuring that it was ‘safe.’ While the organization knows that you are not completely safe unless you don’t take drugs, they also state that most people don’t know what they are taking, or they only think they know. As quoted from their website, DanceSafe is a harm reduction organization promoting health and safety within the rave and nightclub community.

Photo copyright DanceSafe

But DanceSafe isn’t only about drugs. “Our volunteers staff harm reduction booths at raves, nightclubs and other dance events where they provide information on drugs, safer sex, and other health and safety issues concerning the electronic dance community, like driving home safely and protecting one’s hearing.”

Their philosophy is simple:  to create successful, peer-based educational programs to reduce drug abuse and empower young people to make healthy, informed lifestyle choices. The organization goes on to say that while drug resistance programs are good and somewhat preventative for some adolescents and children, DanceSafe believes that trying to scare them away from experimenting with drugs often has the opposite effect. Adolescents and adults will ultimately do what they want, even if they are aware of the consequences of their decisions. That’s where DanceSafe comes in. They aren’t here to judge or tell you that you are wrong, but to help make sure that you are fully educated and know what is being done to your body, and then leaving the final decision up to you.

Photo copyright DanceSafe

The organization operates through young volunteers who have experienced or been directly involved in dance culture. DanceSafe states that, “while many organizations exist that provide services to drug-dependent individuals, few groups address the needs of the majority of non-addicted, recreational users. We hope to fill this gap. When needed, we will always refer people to appropriate treatment programs.”

With the 2011 EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) coming up in June, DanceSafe is concerned about people being safe and responsible with their bodies. A documentary called After EDC is being released the summer of 2011 about the 2010 Electric Daisy Carnival – which had the most number of people in attendance than any other past EDC or electronic music festival in North America, and also had the most injuries, drug-related medical emergencies, and the death of a 15-year-old girl from an alleged ecstasy overdose. The film is being released by White Lotus Media, who is comprised of the writing, editing, directing, and producing talents of former San Francisco State University film student Le Sheng Liu, and shows how festivals like EDC are fun and can bring people together, but that people also need to be careful and responsible while partying. Watch the trailer below!



YouTube video by White Lotus Media

Going along with DanceSafe and White Lotus Media’s philosophy’s, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health collaborated with DJs such as Kaskade, Steve Aoki, and A-Trak (just to name a few) and released a Public Service Announcement about taking ecstasy and being safe if you do decide to take it.



YouTube video by White Lotus Media

So there is nothing wrong with partying and having a good time, as long as the good time doesn’t end dangerously. Remember to Dance Safe!

Photo copyright DanceSafe

Phantogram Merging Electronic and Rock

It seems like the electronic/rock duo Phantogram has been popping up everywhere.

The two who hail from Saratoga Springs, New York created their band in 2007, but have just started to take notice after performing at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas. Phantogram is interesting because they could be considered alternative rock, or they could be considered electronic. I like them because they combine both, which are my favorite genres of music, and even if you don’t like electronic music you can get into them with some of their songs.

YouTube video by BBE Music

They consist of Josh Carter on guitar and vocals and Sarah Barthel on keyboard and vocals. They released their first EP, Phantogram, in March 2009, their second EP, Running From the Cops, in May 2009, and finally released their debut album, Eyelid Movies, in February 2010, which features songs from both EPs.

I feel like Phantogram is the perfect band for people that want to get into electronic music, but are a little afraid to dive in or don’t really know what is good or what to listen to. If you aren’t already submerged into the electronic music scene, I admit it can be a little intimidating to find the style you like and then find all of the artists that you can really get into.

YouTube video by Barsuk Records

Now, Phantogram is making major appearances at Coachella this weekend in Indio, California, and also at this year’s Outside Lands in San Francisco, whose lineup was posted on Monday, April 11.

Michael Fiebach, previous merchandising manager for DJ Shadow and creator of new company, Fame House, that helps artists, labels, and managers build, manage and market their online assets, saw Phantogram at SXSW and was instantly one of his favorites. “Phantogram brings a unique sound and presence to electronic music with live musicianship, and a woman lead singer,” says Fiebach. Which may seem similar to other bands like Crystal Castles, but they have a more funk and soul feel to them, while still incorporating the synthesized beats of electronic music.

Image copyright BBE Music and Phantogram

In a recent interview published by BBE Music, Phantogram describes their music saying in terms of what happens and how you feel when you are dreaming. “We ran across a description of dreams somewhere that used the phrase ‘eyelid movies’ – and it really struck us both as something that fit our music,” says the duo. “Daydreams, the spots you see moving around when your eyes are closed tight, and even the shapes you see in the world all surface when you feel your way through a Phantogram song.”

Be sure to check out Phantogram’s music and to look out for when they come to your town. Their April 15 show at the Independent in San Francisco is already sold out. 🙂

Also thanks to Michael Fiebach of Fame House for a quick interview.

Copyright Fame House Management

Mardi Gras, Le Castle Vania Rock The Mezz

Well-known Atlanta DJ Dylan Eiland, also known as Le Castle Vania, will be returning to San Francisco for a show at the Mezzanine this Friday, March 4th. Early bird tickets are sold out, but you still have two days left to buy advance tickets here.

The pale-skinned, super-blonde-haired Le Castle Vania is familiar to the Bay, performing at many Blow Up events and also Live 105’s Subsonic Spookfest.

Video By: LingdumIUNA, YouTube

This time, Dylan will be joined by DJs Fuckkk Offf, Realboy, Fabian Campos, Robot Mafia, and Mikeyydrops

Video By: SalemDaHousecat, YouTube

Fabian Campos – Beatport Tech House Mix

As for the rest of the weekend, it’s Mardi Gras!
I’ve been seeing signs and posters around the city for Ruby Skye’s Mari Gras bash that is going on Friday AND Saturday, but The Mezzanine is hosting one of their own as well. WhiteNoize, Pam the Funkstress, and DJ Zaq will be providing the beats. Pre-sales are sold out, but you can still get tickets here.

WhiteNoize – The Underground

DJ Zaq – Sound Reaction

Like I said, Ruby Skye is hosting their big Mardi Gras thing all weekend. DJs Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden will be spinning (known together as Gabriel & Dresden).

Gabriel & Dresden

Have a good weekend everyone!

EPR, Eternal Frequency, Club 6 – It’s a good week for Dubstep

As the month of February comes to a close, it is a good week for dubstep and for people to get out and let loose in the Bay Area.

Tonight, EPR – Electric Pop Rocks – returns to 525 Howard St. This time, it’s EPR’s Dubstep edition, featuring 12th Planet, Nit Grit, Getter, KTheory, and more. Presale tickets were available, but now you can only get them at the door. Get there early! The show goes from 9 pm to 2 am but over 1,000 people have already given their RSVP. To find out more about the lineup, take a peek at fellow dubstep blog Bayss, in a post EPR/DPR 139 Brings Us To 12th Planet, by Hunter Mulich.

This Friday, February 25, Eternal Frequency presented by Collective Unity will be going on in Sacramento. There are two stages, one solely dedicated to dubstep. The lineup includes 7 Electro/House DJs and 6 Dubstep or Drum&Bass DJs, including DJ Getter – who will also be at EPR! Although this isn’t in San Fran this time, it should still be given recognition since it’s in the Bay Area. And it’s All (Reponsible!) Ages!

DJ Getter
You can also catch DJ Getter live online at Filth Cabin, Wednesdays from 4-6 EPT.

For those that dont want to go all the way to Sacramento this weekend, check out Club 6 at 60th Sixth Street, between Market and Mission in SoMA. This week they are kicking off their Bass Time Continuum -their contribution to SF dubstep fans- to happen every other Friday. The lineup currently consists of all San Francisco DJs: UltraViolet, Mr. Kitt, and Stressknot. It’s only $5 after 10 pm!

Mr. KITT

UltraViolet

Stressknot

Electronica

Electronic music has been around for a while. From underground music scenes in the UK to massive raves all around Europe, techno, house, and other forms seemed to be what people were listening to. But, truthfully, it really wasn’t my thing.

But that was then. I grew up in Napa, where the only things I really learned outside of school were how to drink and where the nice restaurants are. Since moving to San Francisco 3 years ago, my entire lineup of things I like to do has changed. Not surprisingly, one of those involves electronic music.

Three weeks ago, I returned to San Francisco from studying abroad in northern Italy for 5 months. One of the things that I noticed most while being away was how different their music scene is from California’s. Although I constantly heard the same 3 Rihanna songs and the same multiple Lady Gaga songs that played all last year, I was also introduced to other artists that not very many people seemed to listen to while I was in California. I started getting more into these artists and then I was completely enveloped in the European electronic music scene. One of the highlights of my European adventure was traveling to Belgium for I Love Techno. And it was awesome.

When I got home, I got to thinking: Why is it so different in the U.S. than in Europe? One of my first thoughts was dubstep. Dubstep seems to be everywhere, especially in the Bay Area. Festivals like Coachella (which sold out 3 months in advance), BFD, and Outside Lands have all featured areas for electronic music lovers to go and get down, but in recent years those tents have been more and more wobbly with more dubstep and electronic beats blasting from the sound systems. Ultra in Miami is an electro-only 3-day music festival featuring artists from all over the world. Burning Man is a completely different subject altogether, but still incorporates all forms of music from the electronic world, with lots of followers and bloggers excited for this year’s event.

As for the Bay Area, there is always a show or event to go to and ways to find out about them. There are a lot of free or cheap venues, like Ritual and Redline in SoMa, to California Academy of Sciences, which hosts a nightlife event on Thursdays with electronic music. Blogs like Gotta Dance Dirty, The Filth, and DaftWho give people the lowdown on where to go and also what tracks have just been released.

But this blog isn’t just about where to go and how to see cheap shows. It’s also about the local talent that entertains SF. This Friday, the Tenderlions, who are from San Francisco, will be at the DNA Lounge, the new venue to host BlowUp, which has been bringing local (and also non-local) DJs to San Francisco for the past couple years.

So let’s turn the music up, stay out ’til dawn, and see what San Francisco has to offer.