Three Must-See Acts This Week

Thundercat on Thursday at 1015 Folsom, H.E.R. on Thursday and Friday at the Warfield, and Questlove on Saturday at Mezzanine.

Hip-hop

Questlove

9 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 22, at Mezzanine. $35; mezzaninesf.com

A master producer, expert-level drummer, and a late-night superstar, Questlove is simply a musical renaissance man. Born Ahmir Thompson and raised in Philadelphia, Questlove was musically active from a young age, forming The Roots with longtime friend Tariq Trotter, better known as Black Thought, while still in high school in 1987. At first, The Roots’ jazz-tinged, live-instrument-focused style of hip-hop did not catch on — domestically, anyway, which prompted the band to move to London, where they developed a passionate following. The Roots would eventually become a dominant force within alternative hip-hop, releasing classics like 1999’s Things Fall Apart and 2002’s Phrenology, both of which are considered genre staples. Apart from his success with The Roots, Questlove is a highly sought-after producer, having credits on D’Angelo’s Voodoo and Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine, to name a few. Since 2009, Questlove along with The Roots have become household names after being designated the in-house band for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, transforming Questlove from an underground hero into a bonafide superstar.

Thundercat

Experimental/Funk

Thundercat

9 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 20, at 1015 Folsom. $40; 1015.com

Possibly the most talented bassist of the new millennium, Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner is already a legend in his own right. Having worked with the likes of Flying Lotus, the virtuoso is a highly in-demand behind-the-scenes talent for artists across the board, as his thick-sounding, syncopated, and kinetic basslines are inimitable, blending masterfully with nearly any genre. Thundercat comes from a family of prestigious musicians, as his father Ronald Sr. was an esteemed studio drummer, and his brother Ronald Jr. is a Grammy-winning drummer. His fast-paced style of bass-playing could perhaps be traced back to his first major gig, which was earning a spot in Suicidal Tendencies, replacing bassist Robert Trujillo (who left to play for Metallica). Bruner became a staple in L.A.’s experimental music scene, collaborating with electronic wizard Flying Lotus on his 2010 debut, Cosmogramma, the beginning of a creative relationship that would become key in both artists’ respective careers. Thundercat released his 2011 debut album, The Golden Age of Apocalypse, on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label to ecstatic critical-acclaim. Drunk, Thundercat’s most recent album released last year, is a surreal, yet mesmerizing genre-bender of an album that maintains beautiful consistency at 23 tracks long, and stands as Bruner’s finest work yet. 

R&B

H.E.R.

8 p.m., Thursday and Friday, Dec. 20-21, at The Warfield. $34.50; thewarfieldtheatre.com

Mysteriously emerging onto the scene late in 2016 with her stunning debut EP, H.E.R. Volume 1, little was known about the incredible young talent known as H.E.R., as the singer released little to no information about her private life, and a clear picture of her face was hard to come by. However, the Vallejo singer, whose real name is Gabi Wilson, is slowly stepping out of the shadows after receiving five Grammy nominations, including nods for Best New Artist and Best R&B album for her debut effort released late last year. H.E.R.’s debut album is a critical and commercial success, spawning the No. 1 singles “Focus” and “Best Part,” a heartfelt collaboration with fellow rising star Daniel Caesar. While Wilson has kept her public persona enigmatic, the singer’s focus is mainly on her music and creative process, and she’s rewarded listeners with genuinely emotive and dreamy stylings of chilled-out R&B. 

 

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