Using darkwave, gangster-punk, and '90s house throwbacks, experimental party curators dig deep in the grooves
Hock has been a part of the Bay Area music scene for some 20 years, in various forms, and agrees that O.K. Hole is something of an amalgamation of his past two decades, all funneled into one party. Well, maybe not his first band.
He played in a crappy punk band at age 14 in San Mateo, hung out at the Gillman and listened to a lot of grindcore — Man is the Bastard, Spazz. He then moved on to playing in a synth-based heavy psychedelic act, followed by a dark new wave band called the Knives.
From the ashes of the Knives, rose the goth-y metal band the Vanishing, likely his best-known band from that mid-Aughts era. He and fellow member Jessie Evans moved to Berlin and toured Europe. This is when he also began focusing on DJing. "It made me a total techno asshole," Hock laughs.
After the Vanishing broke up after a show in Vienna, Hock moved back to the states, to a warehouse on Third Street in the Dogpatch. It was there where he threw all-night, underground jams called Gentlemen's Techno, which he describes as similar to O.K. Hole but more dancefloor-oriented. "It was the crappiest, jankiest sound system ever, like 14 different speakers thrown together on top of these like six-foot tall motor-driven subs that used to be Def Leppard's."
After Gentleman's Techno was kaput, Hock started O.K. Hole, only it was a DJ night at Argus Lounge with a friend who soon left the Bay Area. Once she moved, O.K. Hole moved to Amnesia and began as a regular monthly with the help of Rob Spector also of Bronze, and Nathan Burazer from Tussle. The night typically hosts two to three live acts, and then DJs. "We just wanted to have a place to book friends, and stuff we like," says Hock. "It's not a money thing."
Hock himself DJs the nights on two turntables, usually playing mixes of house and techno. The now-Oakland based musician-promoter has also been recently discovering newer parties in the East Bay — a techno party called Direct to Earth, and the abundance of underground punk and hardcore shows. He's been around the block and back around again.
"[The Bay Area musical landscape] is always changing," he notes. "There have been a lot of really fun eras here that are all completely different. A movement will come together, and there will be something around it for two to four year cycles, and then that'll dissipate."
Perhaps it really is all just fleeting. It's better to dance tonight, and worry tomorrow about all that heady place-in-history stuff. Or maybe it's worth taking a second look.
"Sometimes I feel like it's just all seems so confusing — what is this? All this stuff I'm so obsessed with?" Hock asks with a sigh when his music history is noted. "But then it coalesces and it's like yeah, I really love this."