Wicked, man

Twenty years of Full Moon madness with the Wicked party crew

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Wicked waves: DJ Markie appropriates an office desk for a Wicked beach rave
PHOTO BY GINA PAOLI

marke@sfbg.com

RAVE CULTURE Here's a classic San Francisco rave story for you. First the official legend: "In the spring of 1991, a small, brave crew of acid house seekers set sail from southeast England in search of adventure. San Francisco was the destination. They made their mark under the Golden Gate Bridge at Baker Beach with the first in a six-year run of wild and lawless Full Moon parties." And now the party reality: the crew set up during heavy fog after touching down from Britain — and at least two of Wicked's four members, Garth and Jenö, had absolutely no freaking clue that they were beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

"We Brits were virgins to that beach," Garth told me. "We were all enjoying a psychedelic dance when the sun started to come up, and the fog peeled back to reveal the bridge above our heads, lit up like a spaceship! We were hooked from that moment on. The decks were set up on a blanket on the sand. No table. Walkman speakers made makeshift monitors. One well-prepared gay friend improvised a cardboard dancefloor for himself and went about his vogueing like he was back at the Endup or Paradise Garage."

The Wicked Brit saucer, launched from the illustrious Tonka Sound System renegade rave base, touched down on our shores at a moment when the Bay Area psychedelic sound and spirit was flagging. The West Coast underground party scene was being commercialized into the kind of slick, infantile, overproduced spectacles that unfortunately came to define rave in many '90s people's minds. And the music was veering from true basement soul to Big Bird carnival woo-woo — not that there was anything too awful about that, at the time it was fresh. But a pagan squadron of prog-rocky, deep acid house and baggy beats lovers setting up on a beach was a blast of fresh air.

Update on the Wicked crew: Almost all have benefited from our wonderful current dance music moment that values historical broad-mindedness over genre lockstep. (Really, the era-roving Wicked DJs have never sounded better than right now). Garth now lives in Los Angeles and has been releasing a steady stream of re-edits and remixes on his two labels, and through his King & Hound project with beloved local disco archivist James Glass. Former punk protestor and anarchist bookstore haunter Jenö plays live acid house every first Saturday at 222 Hyde, broadcasts the weekly "Noise from the Void" radio show (Tuesdays at 9 p.m. at www.90hz.org), and is codirecting a documentary on the social implications of San Francisco's early rave scene, due out this summer. Thomas is in New York City as one-half of the awesome Rub N Tug production team and owns Whatever We Want Records. And Markie? The dude is and always will be Markie, party legend.

On the eve of the full moon Wicked: 20 Years of Disco Glory reunion party (the name is a cheeky play on one of Garth's already cheeky dance floor hits), I talked to Garth, Jenö, and Thomas over e-mail.

SFBG It seems like a boatload of Brits emigrated here in the '90s and had a huge impact on the party scene — in fact, they're still coming. Is there something special about San Francisco that draws you guys? 

Comments

thanks for the interview, marke! here's to many more years of wicked tunes!

Posted by tee cardaci on Apr. 22, 2011 @ 11:10 am

I appreciate everything, but honestly guys... you have to adapt.

Seems like you all forgot that House is a feeling, and haven't worked hard enough to stay on top. Garth was the best dj EVER; he could always made everyone dance.

Hopefully you'll all get that back some day, but as for right now I can name a thousand dj's that have made the effort to stay on top of their game and rock way harder than you guys.

Don't forget you need to make us DANCE!

I'm not giving up on you all, BUT... WHERE'S THE DISCO NOW???

Posted by Darren Story on Apr. 26, 2011 @ 10:05 am

Darren, what dance planet are u on? These lads are STILL(20 years later) killing it! Garth and Thomas STILL spin all over the world, to packed clubs...regularly! Not to mention, having their own record labels, that release nothing but unique, quality music! Jeno is an S.F musical institution with his long running residencies at 222 Hyde and weekly Void broadcasts! Markie isn't as active as he once was, but we STILL love him more than ever, and is a treat when he does play out every now and then. Your WAY OFF THE MARK sir! Your comments reflect someone who is out of touch with relevant house music...you must be one of those dubstep guys! WONK WONK and WHAH WHAH is a passing fad...these guys and their music have stood the test of time...20 years and running! What crew do you know of that's been around that long...in ANY musical genre? Wise up!

Posted by Torin on Jun. 06, 2011 @ 9:54 am

Great times, the beaches at sunrise, the buses back to the city with strangers who became friends, the king street garage.. glad to have been part of something wonderful.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 26, 2011 @ 11:04 am

@Darren- you can adapt, we will stay real. Thx!
We can all name a thousand DJ's but 99.9% are not worth mentioning. Lets see the legacy they leave in say, 10 or 20 years. I got your disco right here buddy!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2011 @ 9:07 am

Dearest Darren,

First of all disco was here before Wicked and will be here long after. My friends, Garth, Jeno,Thomas, and Markie did what no one else was able to do and that was start a unique musical scene here in San Francisco that has stood the test of time. They've made and continue to make their mark by taking us on a journey every time they play whether it be house, soul, disco, or whatever!

You must know where they come from and what their roots are regarding house music right? You also must know how many of these dj's you could mention most likely emulate this crew right? The Wicked boy's make people dance, they always have and always will. I am sorry you feel this way instead of being thankful that if not for them you might not have ever even been turned onto house music.... And as for "house is a feeling" pppft for us/them it's a way of life!

Ride the rhythm young man if you can find it...!

Posted by gina paoli on Jun. 06, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

Well put gina! @Darren - sorry, for your obvious lack of taste. I've been grooving to these wicked dj's for quiet some time. Anyone that knows me can confirm this. So, they have been doing their job for many years now and I still can't get enough. Remember the message is LOVE!

addicted to the groove,
santiago

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2011 @ 1:24 am

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