HWLS + LAKIM + Andre Power
A collaboration between Australian producers Ta-Ku and Kit Pop, HWLS has released two EPs and a handful of single remixes since 2014, and their upcoming set at 1015 Folsom is the project’s debut live performance in San Francisco. The two artists are signed to Future Classic, the label responsible for acts like Flume, Flight Facilities, and other major producers who have brought EDM into the spotlight.
But unlike many of Future Classic’s artists, HWLS ditches the sugary, tropical house vibes that currently dominate electronic-pop crossover tunes, and instead opts for intense, brooding trap. Dark, thumping beats highlight shimmery vocal samples and rap hooks, transporting listeners to a futuristic, sci-fi-fueled fantasy.
Accompanying HWLS’ set are LAKIM and Andre Power, two artists best known for their involvement in the hip-hop radio show and collective Soulection. In contrast to HWLS’ moody electronica, LAKIM’s and Power’s sets are rife with groovy warmth, and the two producers often sample artists like Janet Jackson and D.R.A.M. into their upbeat remixes.
Despite their stylistic differences, all three artists represent uniquely innovative niches in an ever-expanding genre, and their show at 1015 Folsom is likely to be an exciting, experimental ride. Alexa Lee
With Off Bloom and Elujay, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 30, at 1015 Folsom. $15; 1015.com
Land of Talk
There were extended stretches of time during which it was uncertain whether the Canadian indie-rock band Land of Talk would ever create music again. In a recent interview with NPR, Elizabeth Powell, the band’s frontwoman, recalled her past disillusionment with the music industry’s ceaseless demands to record, tour, and then repeat the whole process. In 2010, after releasing two albums and two EPs, Powell took her first break since beginning her musical career at age 13 and retreated to her grandmother’s lakeside cottage in Orillia, Ontario.
But her hiatus was not without its challenges. When her laptop crashed, she lost all her recorded demos. She developed a hemorrhagic vocal polyp that nearly robbed her of her singing voice altogether, and in 2013, her father suffered a stroke that left her feeling severely demoralized and frightened. For a less passionate musician, any of these events alone would be enough to end a musical career. But these trials reawakened Powell’s long-dormant dedication to recording and performing. In an interview with her label Saddle Creek, Powell explains that during that point in her life, “music became a self-help thing, a coping mechanism, because music is how I understand myself and the world.”
Enter the 2017 project Life After Youth, the first Land of Talk album after seven years of silence. As the title suggests, Life After Youth marks a musical reincarnation for Powell, a departure from earlier work that, though charming, emanated a wavering self-doubt that tried to mask itself in weepy vocals and hazy background instrumentals. In contrast, new tracks, like “This Time” and “Inner Lover,” are anchored by Powell’s clear, pronounced vocals and confident lyrics, such as “I don’t wanna waste it this time” and “Feeling here is free.” Indeed, it seems as if after years of being adrift, Powell and her band finally know exactly where they stand. Alexa Lee
At 9 p.m., Friday, June 30, at the Independent. $15; theindependentsf.com
In 2008, before Phantogram was Phantogram, they were a little-known duo called Charlie Everywhere that played free shows at random venues like Circus Cafe in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Other than that, though, little else has changed about the act known for making lush, emotive electro-pop songs riddled with plaintive vocals that give you the feels (or the sniffles).
It’s clear that Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, who have been friends since preschool, share similar creative sensibilities — as well as fashion tastes; they both wear a lot of black. And when their powers are combined, they have an uncanny ability to make intoxicating, alluring tunes, regardless of genre. They proved this in 2015 when they teamed up with Big Boi from OutKast to release the EP Big Grams. With Barthel and Big Boi handling the vocals, and Carter crafting the beats, the trio created an inventive, energetic hip-hop record that perfectly marries rap with electronic music.
As their record with Big Boi proves, Phantogram is not as dark and depressed as they seem — even if their songs are filled with lines like “Throw me in the flame” and “I’d rather die.” They smoke weed — in fact, it was while sharing a joint with Big Boi that they first came up with the idea to collaborate — and they recently claimed in an interview with Du Jour that if they weren’t doing music, they’d be sock puppeteers. Jessie Schiewe
With Miike Snow at 8 p.m., Saturday, July 1, at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. $45; hearstgreektheatre.com
San Francisco’s NRVS LVRS — pronounced Nervous Lovers — is a husband-and-wife dark pop band with a knack for making thumping electronic songs mired in suspense and inspired by acts like The Knife and Massive Attack.
Lead singer Andrew Gomez — who is married to backing vocalist and keyboardist Bevin Fernandez — formed the band in 2014 after purchasing the music production software Ableton. He toyed around with the program, creating electronic tunes that “just didn’t quite fit in” with the sounds of his then-current band Sporting Life. New material kept piling up until Gomez decided to form another band, thus giving birth to NRVS LVRS.
After a three-year hiatus, their second album, Electric Dread, comes out on Friday, June 30, and coincides with their show at Bottom of the Hill. If their recently released song “Lost to the Max” is any indication, their new stuff is filled with sweeping choruses, lugubrious drumming, and emotionally manipulative build-ups. Jessie Schiewe
At 8:30 p.m., Friday, June 30, at Bottom of the Hill. $12; bottomofthehill.com