Three Must-See Acts This Week

P-Lo on Friday at the UC Theatre, Laura Gibson on Saturday at Bottom of the Hill, and Peter Bjorn and John on Sunday at the Independent.

Indie pop

Peter Bjorn and John

8 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9, at The Independent. $25; theindependentsf.com

Some 12 years after taking over the indie music world with their surprise hit “Young Folks,” Peter Bjorn and John are deep into their career, producing their most sonically ambitious material yet while retaining the quirky sweetness that defines their sound. The Swedish trio — aptly composed of singer-guitarist Peter Moren, bassist Bjorn Yttling, and percussionist John Eriksson — all started the band in 1999 after sharing an interest in ’60s baroque-pop, among other peculiar tastes. They released their self-titled debut album and sophomore effort Falling Out in 2002 and 2004, respectively, but their breakout onto the international stage came with 2006’s Writer’s Block, a delightfully strange indie-pop opus crowned by the whistle-centric earworm “Young Folks,” along with other signature cuts like “Amsterdam” and “The Chills.” That and the haunting, lonely album cover made Writer’s Block a defining work of the decade that would greatly influence later indie pop artists. The band went on to experiment with darker themes and instrumental material on follow-ups Seaside Rock and Living Things, and they released another instant indie classic with Gimme Some, echoing a return to their sunshine-y roots with a heavier focus on guitar. The group’s latest, October’s Darker Days, is an infectiously catchy yet sleekly grim collection of welcomingly thoughtful indie pop that hears the three musicians at their most creatively confident peak. 

P-Lo

Hip-hop

P-Lo

(at Red Bull Music: Generations) 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7, at The UC Theatre. $15; theuctheatre.org

A founding member of the Bay Area’s monumental HBK Gang, the hip-hop collective that helped launch the careers of local superstars like Kehlani and G-Eazy, P-Lo’s career is one defined by perseverance and limitless ambition. The producer-rapper phenom, who hails from the East Bay, co-founded the HBK Gang in 2008 with other talents like Iamsu! while still in high school, bringing a new, kinetic energy into the Bay Area’s hip-hop scene. P-Lo’s impressive production chops have made him a highly in-demand talent behind the scenes, producing tracks for Wiz Khalifa, YG, and Trey Songz — but the producer has also established himself as a rapper to pay attention to, turning heads with his acclaimed 2013 mixtape MBMGC 2. Last year saw the release of P-Lo’s first full-length LP, More Than Anything, a creatively bold collection of distinctly Bay Area rap that he followed up with July’s PRIME, which sounds as if it is ready to explode on the charts with insanely catchy hooks and deeply layered production. P-Lo leads the lineup of Generations, a showcase that celebrates the Filipino-Bay Area connection, with some help from Oakland rising-rapper ALLBLACK and Manila-vocalist Jess Connelly. 

Laura Gibson

Indie folk

Laura Gibson

8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, at Bottom of the Hill. $14; bottomofthehill.com

Now an MFA recipient, singer-songwriter Laura Gibson has always made interesting folk-tinged indie pop with insightful lyricism, but her songwriting talents have approached peak levels with the recent release of her emotional opus Goners. The classically trained cellist and native Oregonian is a fixture of the Pacific Northwest’s folk-pop scene, releasing her debut album If You Come to Greet Me in 2006. Gibson’s critically acclaimed third album, 2012’s La Grande, was inspired by her experiences in the small Oregon town it is named after, and it’s a heartfelt recollection of her home state presented through a rich but moody atmosphere. While living in New York to complete her MFA, she lost most of her belongings when her apartment burned down, a devastating experience that would inspire her fourth album, 2016’s Empire Builder. After completing her Master’s, Gibson returned to songwriting to explore themes of death and grief, which inspired the bulk of material found on Goners. Gibson says of the album that “Goners seemed an apt title because it speaks of both the future and the past. The word is used for two types of people: those who lose themselves in the ones they love, and those whose deaths are imminent.” 

 

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