Casselman's spacious back room was just starting to come alive when I arrived at the venue last night for "This End Up," an ambitious, multi-headliner event showcasing resident DJ's from San Francisco's infamous after-hours club, the Endup. Veteran local DJ Jamie Kent laid down some commercial-sounding techno that didn't do much for me, but she had the crowd moving as I made my way onto the steadily growing dance floor around 10:30 p.m.
Kent's record selection was a little too generic for my taste, and she played too hard for her relatively early opening time slot. To her credit, she moved quickly and decisively from one track to the next, keeping her set from going stale, but I felt she should have left the three headlining acts playing after her with more room to maneuver.
Bay Area hip-hop DJ Laura took over the decks from Kent around midnight. Reading the crowd well, she changed direction from hip-hop to dubby bass music before settling on a more-appropriate tech-house vibe. Her set was a good example of a DJ being well prepared and able to make the necessary adjustments to meet the needs and wants of their audience.
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The crowd was responding well when Three appeared in the booth around 1 a.m. Also known as Chris Milo, Three rose out of Florida in the mid '90s to become one of America's most important and influential DJs. His residency at the small Gainesville, Florida club Simon's is the stuff of legend, and Three's reputation as a versatile, uncompromising, DJ's DJ has continued to grow.
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Tackling difficult track combinations seemingly with ease, Three put together a masterful set of glossy tech-house that highlighted the genre's melodic house roots instead of its mechanical, techy side. My only complaint with Three's set is that I didn't get to hear more of him. The New York-based DJ's set clocked in at only about an hour and a half, but was thoroughly enjoyable.
J. Phlip relieved Three around 2 a.m. As she took the volume and tempo up a notch, the Dirtybird recording artist's girlish features contrasted with the not-fucking-around-at-all techno booming over the loudspeakers. Her first few bass-heavy tracks rattled the subwoofers, sounding slightly monotonous just for a minute before the DJ injected the sound system with sweet hints of melody.
Mostly eschewing the funky, ass-shaking sound that both she and the Dirtybird label usually call to mind, Phlip kept the techno coming until after 4 a.m., the set reminiscent of her Colorado debut last Forth of July that won her a strong Denver-area fan base. Rumors of an after-party abounded, but I returned home shortly before the house lights came on. All in all, "This End Up" was an excellent night out.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I've been a big fan of Three for over ten years. He's pretty much the man. By the Way: It wasn't much fun waiting twenty minutes just to check a coat. Random Detail: Free drinks for VIP's from 12-2 was definitely a nice touch.