Using darkwave, gangster-punk, and '90s house throwbacks, experimental party curators dig deep in the grooves
"I can safely say that there's this [legendary '90s-born party] in Scotland, that I've never been to called Optimo, and this is 100 percent me trying to rip off Optimo," he says with an easy laugh. "In my mind they have the coolest shit, cross genres."
Meenan also leans heavy on newish label 100% Silk, which describes itself as making "singles of diamond-life dance & bliss-disco & basement luxury grooves by friends and lovers from all over the world."
He says the label has been pretty central to him exploring older house music.
Push the Feeling is shiny and new, and still figuring out its place, but it's an interesting evolution for Meenan. "This is my first attempt at trying to do more traditional nights," he says. With that said, the shows do have still have exuberant punk-energy of live music along with exciting DJs.
A DJ now himself, using Ableton Live, he's been enjoying playing '70s disco songs, then '90s house covers and watching the crowd, or spinning Peech Boys's '81 track "Don't Make Me Wait" followed by the '87 remix "Don't Make Me Jack" by Paris Grey. With those mentioned, he sings a few strains of each. "That's one of the things that has really attracted me to dance music, you can cover 30 years of music history within a 20 minute period."
While Push the Feeling may be one step in a particular, bass-heavy direction, it's not like this is entirely foreign to Meenan. While he was doing the epicsauce.com list, which led to writing band profiles on SFist and other freelance writing work, he also was throwing his own near-weekly epicsauce.com presents parties at Milk.
The first show he ever did, February of 2009, included French Miami and Silian Rail. From there he booked a Neon Indian DJ set, Boys IV Men, Baths, Yacht — nearly all acts with some sort of electronic element, synth, or just straight up DJs.
After years spent tiptoeing the line between rock and electro, Meenan is very aware of the backlash against so-called "hipster house" — this calling out of relatively new bands and producers coming out of rock scenes, hinting at not fully appreciating the decades of dance music references that came before them.
He says he hopes he's turned the page on that, as an obsessive music collector who spends weeks at a time studying one producer then said producer's influences, but he also calls out the backlash as the prototypical hipper-than-thou refrain.
"I think there's some validity to it, yeah there's a lot of cool stuff that came before this, but I think it's no different than the old man indie argument. This has been going on forever. I think this is true with any genre, and any form of music ever."
SYNTH AS THE COMMON THREAD
Let's get this out of the way, C.L.A.W.S. stands for "Can't Live Anywhere Without Sandwiches." Brian Hock says this with a small, proud smile from a tiny table in the Dogpatch Saloon.
It's Hock's minimalist, synth-driven solo project he's been making music for since 2007. He's also currently helping produce tracks for Group Rhoda, drumming for Bronze, and booking monthly experimental dance club-meets-live music night O.K. Hole (Third Saturdays, 9pm, $5. Amnesia, 853 Valencia, SF. www.amnesiathebar.com) at Amnesia.
The roster of acts that have played O.K. Hole in the past three years — the night began in 2009 — is impressive, if not wholly representative of this modern post-everything genre blurring. Of course Bronze and C.L.A.W.S have stopped in, but also Eats Tapes, Jonas Reinhardt, Magic Touch, Coconut, Royal Baths, Late Young, Soft Metals, Silk Flowers, Water Borders, and dozens more. They book live electronics, coldwave, techno, and synth-y house, Hock says. Synths are the common thread between most of the acts, he adds.