Using darkwave, gangster-punk, and '90s house throwbacks, experimental party curators dig deep in the grooves
120 Minutes at Milk Bar in September of 2010 was his first return to throwing his own parties. The lights-lasers-sounds party quickly outgrew Milk, moved to its more permanent home at the Elbo Room and has remained a wildly popular event there ever since, playing, as oft-noted, mixes of Salem, Waka Flocka Flame, Dragged Out, Skinny Puppy, and Nicki Minaj.
"It's an insanely amazing time for music. The breadth of widely available, quality work is wider than it has ever been, and this has changed the market drastically in the last decade... hell, in the last few years," he says.
Adding, "Accessibility has lead to a larger common vernacular for artists to pull from, and in turn to a blurring of genre lines and a more relaxed take on the previously stringent rules that would guide the way a lot of musicians produced music and also how fans would consume it."
De La Vega still DJs most of his own parties as S4NtA_MU3rTE, and has a mad scientist freedom to explore. He makes video files using the Serato program and uses turntables and vinyl as MIDI controllers, but also uses a program that combines live production program Ableton with Serato. He usually spins his own remixes, including a popular Waka Flocka Flame mix — he says every time he plays someone screams "Play Waka!" That, or Gucci Mane: "Any crowd, doesn't matter the scene, they always freak out about Gucci Mane."
Though he also taps into the bleaker stuff. He does all graphic design for the show posters he wheatpastes around the city, most frequently slick black affairs with crystallized white skulls. He agrees he has an overall darker vibe but not necessarily gothic.
"Goth doesn't mean anything anymore and I feel like it gives the wrong vibe. But to some extent I come from that vibe. To me it implies the wrong things — Frankenstein boots, and multi-colored extensions — and that can be pulled off, it's just not me."
He breaks it down in the most understandable of terms toward the end of the warm afternoon at Pop's: "I want to be able to go and watch [stoner metal act] Sleep one night and then go to a rave the next, and definitely still get backstage for the A$AP Rocky show."
RIPPING OFF OPTIMO
It was a combination of influences that first got Kevin Meenan, a.k.a. epicsauce, interested in having his own e-list of local shows.
First, he was learning to use open source system Drupal, but more to the point, he found New York web list Oh My Rockness, on which he discovered SF-based act Tussle playing a show when he happened to be visiting a friend in New York.
The biggest inspiration however was long-standing punk and thrash e-list The List. "I have probably looked at it once a week, every week, since eighth grade," he says. Spare and simple, The List is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, ongoing lists of Bay Area shows. Meenan, who now lives off Divisadero in SF, grew up in the Walnut Creek area, so he's been going to local shows for quite some time.
He began epicsauce.com in 2007, a few years after he returned to the Bay. He'd gone to college in Boston and spent a year abroad in London, where he discovered club nights he actually wanted to go to. "epicsauce.com was supposed to be like The List," he later adds, "but a little bit more inclusive of dance music and stuff I was just starting to get into it at that point."
Now, five years and many remixes later, Meenan throws a free dance music-oriented party, Push the Feeling (Monthly, dates vary, 9pm, free with Facebook RSVP. Underground SF, 424 Haight, SF.), with high school BFF/roommate Andrew Marcogliese, a.k.a. YR SKULL. The Lower Haight event has thus far featured Magic Touch, Shock, Chucha Santamaria y Usted, and shortcircles, among other acts.