Monday, July 2, 2007

Event Review: FilterSF at Fat City

The boyfriend and I made it out to FilterSF at Fat City on Saturday, and while we both enjoyed the tracks we heard from residents Solekandi and Saya, our personal energy levels, and that of the party, were too low to keep us there much beyond the 1AM mark; I think this is one of those events where it's best to show up, and stay, later.

We arrived at Fat City, the former Studio Z, around 10PM, and, in our typical fashion, were the first guests at the party. Fat City is a pretty minimal club space, really nothing more than a warehouse with a bar and a disco ball, though the sound system was easily one of the best we have heard in the city. The space seems to be set up mainly for live performances, with a large stage at the front of the room and a live mixing board in back. Our mutual impression was that this is a difficult space for a DJ, since it puts you right up front for everyone to watch, rather than letting you be more “behind-the-scenes” to create a vibe, and being a big space, it’s difficult to raise the energy level when it’s populated by a small number of people. The minimal lighting makes for a boring visual environment and, again, with nothing else to draw the attention of attendees, the only thing to look at is the DJ and the assortment of gear that’s been put up on the stage - the whole time people were dancing, they were also staring straight forward at the stage. Drinks were reasonably priced for SoMA, with well drinks at $6 and a Stoli and tonic running $7.

Solekandi was on when we first arrived but soon traded out with Saya. Their tracks were in the vein that I go for myself, deep, minimal, and almost trance-like, and both the boyfriend and I could say that we heard a lot of stuff that we didn’t know that we really liked. The flow between tracks was a little disconnected at times, but since they were largely playing to an empty room for the first hour I think this was just a matter of trying out some different grooves; at the end of Saya’s set she was playing some pretty big tracks that I thought would have worked better with a correspondingly big dancefloor later in the evening, but that was my only substantial criticism. Solekandi came on again at midnight to a small crowd of 75-100 people; her mixes and track selection were much tighter, and I could see that she was really getting down with her tracks, but even then it seemed difficult to shift the people on the dancefloor from head-bobbing and the zombie shuffle into full-on dancing.

The whole time we were at the club we kept smelling grilled onions, and between 12.30 and 1.00 our hunger for greasy street food got the better of us. We found the source of this mouth-watering aroma at a hot-dog cart on the corner of 11th and Folsom, and then decided to wander down to the Cat Club to see what was up with The Grind; however, the $15 cover along with the HI-NRG disco anthems we could hear when the door opened made us think that it probably wouldn’t be worth it. We considered going back up to FilterSF, since we had the requisite wrist stamps, but with a picnic in Golden Gate Park planned for the next day, and still-depleted energy reserves from Pride weekend, we opted instead to get some much-needed sleep.

I liked what I heard at FilterSF, and I think this crew is bringing a different sound to the San Francisco techno scene, a sound that I generally appreciate. This was a pretty tough night for them, being up against two Burning Man fundraisers, as well as being the weekend before a major holiday, when many people have left the city. It’s also a difficult space to warm up, and I expect that when that dark, empty cavern has about a hundred more people in it, the energy is significantly different. I don't think this was the best weekend for really getting the measure of this event, so I’ll be making plans to attend another FilterSF party soon, though next time I’ll probably plan on coming, and staying, much later.

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