Fierce local songbird Caroline Lund redefines "circuit diva." Plus: Stacey Pullen and The Martinez Brothers
SUPEREGO "Do you consider yourself a diva?" It's one of those ridiculously rhetorical nightlife, especially gay nightlife, questions like "Does this pair of angel wings and neon bob wig make me look dated?" or "Is that muscle queen by the speakers dancing or frantically signaling with both hands for me to call him on his cellular?"
And yet, here I am in the Castro, asking that very question of potential diva-in-training Caroline Lund (www.myspace.com/carolinelund ). Lund certainly has all the particulars in place. Freshly released, circuit-friendly remix album of her debut single "Move Your Body"? Snap. A longtime dance presence on San Francisco's shirtless gay afterhours scene, coordinating riser-writhers at Club Universe in the '90s and now Wunderland? Snap, snap. Slick video featuring Lund in an array of revealing outfits, gyrating among backup pec-flexers? Of course. And heavy rotation play on Energy, 92.7 FM? Well, not until the Bay's biggest progressive-pop dance station actually starts playing more local stuff. But soon.
Originally from Ghana, raised in Stockton, and now living in the Haight, the naturally gorgeous Lund even has a beauty pageant past, snagging a Miss San Joaquin sash when she was fresh out of high school ("I scored a few crowns and moved on," she laughs). But despite possessing all the slightly played-out signifiers of divadom, she offers a refreshing departure from the usual hyped-up circuit siren. First, she's not a wailer. "Move Your Body" is an intensely catchy if unthreatening tune: Lund coos her way through the slinky "Ray of Light"-like slice of 2 a.m. loveliness with understated bravado.
Caroline Lund, "Move Your Body" (teaser)
She's also disarmingly self-aware. "Look, I'm a track act," she tells me, "and I've seen a lot of track acts perform. It's important not to interrupt the flow of the music with announcements, to flesh it out organically with dancing and costumes that don't throw off the vibe." I'll probably choke on an empty poppers bottle before I'll ever again hear a track act describe herself as a track act. And underneath all the artifice, a real drama queen's heart beats. The teenage Lund used to sneak out of her parent's house to attend theater rehearsals, and has an impressive acting resume. "With the new release, I just always loved this type of music -- it's a time in my life to really go for something," she says, her eyes sparkling with resolve.
The bone of contention, of course, has always been divas. My cuticles are still raw from clawing my eyes out in the '90s, trying to explain to my intransigent friends that house is more than just some lady yowling like a stuck pig to "be yourself" while a hurricane of gym clones twitches and disrobes on the dance floor around you. Not that there's anything wrong with that scene, but it makes me kind of sneezy, kind of stabby. One could even hear much of the past decade's underground dance music as a reaction to flagrant vocal house from electro-clash's snide, clipped raps, to electro's Uffie "fuck me" mumbles and dubstep and future bass's virtual obliteration of the feminine.
Maybe all that was necessary. But now that a diva can be "anyone with a midriff and an attitude" in the words of DJ Bus Station John, who pretty much reintroduced the sound of women singing to SF's dance underground with his bathhouse disco revival movement and Lady Gaga has dominated global charts merely by raiding Grace Jones' Goodwill bin, can we finally bury the overblown personality-machine and get back to the feeling?
"I'd be honored if anyone called me a diva," Lund says, demurely. "But really, I just want to be part of the energy, not to own it."
In the early '90s, along with seminal Detroit legends like Alton Miller, Kenny Larkin, and Carl Craig, ever-cool innovator Stacey Pullen explored and expanded a strain of the early techno sound, implicit in Derrick May's first releases, that conjured up complex jazz-fusion-like chord shifts and African drum patterns. The results oh, I'll just say it blew out some serious crania. They also helped establish techno as a distinctly black idiom at a time when its definition was being stretched so far it included sampling the Sesame Street theme song. In the late '90s, when everyone was trying to make money, Stacey ventured into harder, more Euro-friendly mixes with mixed results, at least to this Motor City queen's ear. The man behind Silent Phase and Kosmik Messenger is back in his semi-abstract yet supremely danceable comfort zone, though, and should be worth braving the Temple weekend crowd for. Pack your anti-bachelorette spray and prepare to be seriously moved.
Fri/12, 10 p.m., $20. Temple, 540 Howard, SF. www.templesf.com 
THE MARTINEZ BROTHERS
Are Steve and Chris Martinez the great Bronx hope of house? The press hook about the dashing, actual brothers is that they're incredibly tender: now 20 and 17 respectively, they've been tearing up global parties for the past couple years. (Don't ask how they got past the door guys, nosy.) But the real news is that "house" in their case refers to deeply researched, deeply felt mixes that may be ravenous in scope Kerri Chandler, Pat Methany, and Slum Village all find their way onto TMB's decks but are reviving that endangered species: dancefloor soul. This is not to say they're fuddy-duddies in training, or that there's cobwebs on the needles. The energetic duo may not yet be, as many have posited, the new Masters at Work (I'll need to hear a few more releases from them before I'm willing to join that chorus), but when they give the electro-stutter treatment to Roland Clark's political a capella "Resist" over DJ Spen's string-driven throwdown "Gabryelle", the old-school spirits come down. House is alive and finding new children to speak through.
Sat/13, 10 p.m., $10 advance. Mighty, 119 Utah, www.mighty119.com