Friday night the boyfriend and I took a walk down to Paradise Lounge to check out Auralism’s third-Friday party, Aural Therapy, which, for this installment, featured Berlin’s Franklin De Costa behind the decks.
This was the first time I’ve gotten to check out the entire Paradise Lounge space, and we were both impressed with the upstairs bar and second room with its near-perfect sound isolation. Right out of the gate Paradise is booking some very interesting nights, from the retro-bath house Honey Sound System Sundays to an upcoming show with Lindstrom, and at least two regular techno events, including the premiere of Pulse on January 30th. With a license to stay open until 4AM, I think Paradise is about to give Mighty a real run for their money with a better space, better sound, and much more innovative bookings.
When we first arrived the techno was a bit on the mushy side – a generally okay sound, but nothing solid enough to make us want to get on the dancefloor, so we wandered down to The Cat Club to check out a new party that PeePlay of Honey Sound System is involved with, Black Friday. We ran into DJs 6 and Donimo of Lucky Pierre and a couple other friends, and then left just after we heard the trifecta of music you never need to hear again, “YMCA” followed on by “I Will Survive” and then “The Hustle.” Much to his credit PeePlay jumped onto the decks after this, and without even letting “The Hustle” play out completely he had dropped us back into much snappier contemporary territory. I would have liked to have stayed and heard the rest of his set, but it was approaching midnight at that point and we knew Franklin De Costa would be starting soon.
We made it back to Paradise Lounge just before De Costa started playing and had a chance to scope out the crowd. Though the dancefloor was packed, it was a very cool crowd, lots of real obvious techno heads, and still plenty of room of dancing. De Costa played a very minimal, abstract set, but the energy was absolutely banging. The boyfriend and I danced for over an hour straight, something that rarely happens these days. I would describe De Costa’s style as being what I think of as “real German techno,” lots of abstract loops that, when you mix them together, have their own emergent structure and dynamic. There were times when I could recognize the structure of individual tracks, but overall the impression was of sections phasing in and out of one another, a steady drive with moments of auditory surprise that would then make your body shift in another direction. The nice bit, though, was his selection of tracks with warm, more organic, almost house sounds that made it easy to engage with the music at the same time that the rhythm drove you relentlessly forward.
This was only the third time Aural Therapy has been held at Paradise Lounge, but I’d say it was an experience that certainly bears repeating. A more intimate and varied space than The Endup, and without that club’s seeming need to cater to the more general expectations of SF clubbers (how many times will I go to Kontrol and hear generic house for the first two hours?), Paradise Lounge and Aural Therapy have the potential to become a major monthly destination for the SF techno scene.