Alphabet soup

Pub date August 19, 2009
WriterMarke B.
SectionMusicSectionSuper Ego

SUPEREGO ADDICT "That techno shit ain’t nothing but a bunch of clowns tripping their balls off to car alarms," the old saying goes. And it’s almost exactly right! If we’re still in the 1990s — which, by the way, also saw over-tattooed punk and swing revivalists nodding off to black tar and a swarm of bronze-bleached gays mething out to Bryan Adams circuit remixes when they could pry away from AOL chat. (You thought it took forever to download a naked JPEG in 1997? Try doing it on crystal.) Plus: candy-flipping Burners, K-holed zombie househeds, and reams of GHB newbies shitting their pants and dropping half-dead at the unfortunately ambulance-ridden EndUp.

Glancing back with a delicious shiver, the ’90s were a shadow-peopled heyday of designer nightlife drugs, an alphabet soup raining down in clubbers’ peripheries. But, really, from opiate-stoned flappers and Benzedrined mods to the Factory’s orange Obetrols and MDA at the Paradise Garage — when haven’t drugs driven the wee-hours subcultural?

Yes, the music plays into the drug of each scene’s choice, a Pan flute solo wafting over the Valley of the Dolls. You do need to drop E on a crowded dance floor to "get" most strains of techno, or smoke out bigtime for reggae to wobble you to Jah. And drugs drive the music: I’m currently rereading one of my fave tomes, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (Penguin, 1997), and it blows my Swiss cheese brain the sheer piles of drugs everyone was on in the ’70s rock scene. I guess that’s why they got so bloated in the ’80s.

Which leads us, squinting in dawn’s foggy light, to the present. It’s odd that the same prescription drugs kids use to stay well-behaved in math class are the ones most clubbers pop while getting dressed, with a key-snort of terror-funding coke to keep the edge off. But if ’00s electro and fidget house were the sound of Adderall and Ritalin, dubstep derived from hydroponic stank, the disco revival uncorking fresh poppers (see for your designer bottle), and minimal techno just OCD writ large (a self-consciously undrugged movement?) then the illicit substance center, though cut with baby laxative, at least still holds. And always the liquor flows and flows….


Brain-teasing techno label Pokerflat presents a rare showcase of its stable, including deep mentalist Bug and smooth criminal John Tejada.

Fri/21, 10 p.m., $20, Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF.


Do-the-doo house is making a shining comeback, thanks in part to the Chicago master’s tireless touring. Shimmy and shake, boogie child.

Fri/21, 10 p.m.- 4 a.m., $10. Temple, 540 Howard, SF.


"Cybernetic breaks with asymmetrical dub delays" from the former Glitch Mobber, with "global slut psy-hop" queen Ana Sia opening up.

Fri/21, 10 p.m., $10. Mighty, 119 Utah, SF.


Your progressive-trance Burner warmup begins with the Euphonic Sounds tunes of this dapper space octopus.

Sat 22, 10 p.m.- 4 a.m., $15 advance. 1015 Folsom, SF.


Wherefore art thou, Ambient Romeo? All around us, of course, as pioneer Jega drops his excellent double-disc Variance (Planet Mu) after nine long years.

Sun/22, 10 p.m., $10. Li Po Lounge, 916 Grant, SF.