Three Must-See Acts This Week

Fantastic Negrito, Little Dragon, and Post Animal.

Blues-rock

Fantastic Negrito

9 p.m., Friday, June 15, at The Fillmore. $22.50; thefillmore.com

Xavier Dphrepaulezz, better known as Fantastic Negrito, doesn’t sugarcoat anything he takes aim at in his politically charged music, and his words carry a particular emotional weight which would be hard to create if there weren’t real-life experiences to back them up. For Dphrepaulezz, growing up in Oakland surrounded by violence, drugs, and poverty, life has been a consistent series of highs and lows. His uncontrollable passion for music led him to sneak in to classes at UC Berkeley to nurture his talents, and he eventually moved to Los Angeles, signing a deal with Interscope to release his debut album Xavier in 1995. The music industry left Dphrepaulezz unsatisfied, and he left L.A. and music altogether after a near-fatal car accident in 1999. Upon resettling with his family in Oakland, Dphrepaulezz and his son rediscovered classic rock and roots musicians like Muddy Waters and Skip James, connecting their respective struggles with his own. In a 2015 interview with Wired, he said, “I had lived. I had failed. I lost my hand. I buried my brother. I got it; the connection finally happened.” Dphrepaulezz’s renewed creative energy led him to perform as Fantastic Negrito, busking at BART stations and playing local clubs before catching his big break by winning NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. The Last Days of Oakland, Dphrepaulezz’s debut album under his current moniker, is raw and heartfelt, a blues-inflected reflection of the town Dphrepaulezz has seen change rapidly over the course of his life. Fantastic Negrito’s newest album, Please Don’t Be Dead, sees its release this Friday, and its fiery lead single “Plastic Hamburgers” is an indication that Dphrepaulezz’s music may be more vital now than ever.

Electronic

Little Dragon

(with Flying Lotus) 7 p.m., Saturday, June 16, at The Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley. $49.50; thegreekberkeley.com

Since the release of their debut self-titled album in 2007, Little Dragon’s presence in the electronic music world has remained steady, going from indie kids’ favorite underground discovery to full-on stars of their own. By the time they released their 2009 sophomore LP, Machine Dreams, the Swedish group’s idiosyncratic, downtempo synth-pop sound — along with Yukimi Nagano’s hypnotic vocals — earned them a sizable fan base, including Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn. Little Dragon’s third album, 2011’s Ritual Union, remains the group’s signature release, with its titular track becoming somewhat of an anthem for electronic-heads for the rest of the decade. Its experimental blend of out-of-left-field electronic and soulful hooks foreshadows the futuristic pop sound that the group unintentionally helped usher in. With legitimate clout behind them, Little Dragon has collaborated with trendsetting producers like SBTRKT, Flume, and Kaytranada, and nabbed a Grammy nomination for their 2014 album Nabuma Rubberband — something Nagano claims in a Rolling Stone interview “caught us off-guard for sure.” Released in 2017, Little Dragon’s newest album, Season High, continues the seductive, upbeat synth-laden sound the group has come to perfect.

 

Post Animal | Photo by Pooneh Ghana

Psychedelic rock

Post Animal

8 p.m., Tuesday, June 19, at Cafe du Nord. $15; swedishamericanhall.com/cafedunord

Taking inspiration from 1970s power-pop and modern psych rock, there is little room to question how Post Animal rapidly took over its native Chicago underground scene since forming in 2015. Their quirkily titled inaugural EP Post Animal Perform the Most Curious Underground Water Activities gave listeners a taste of fuzzbox-induced psychedelic daydreams that almost sound like a long-lost Elephant 6 record. The Garden Series, the six-piece’s 2016 EP, hears the group switching off vocal duties amid an onslaught of thick guitar riffs and effortlessly catchy choruses. In a 2016 interview with VICE, the band stated, “A huge part of our inspiration comes from classic musicians like Sabbath, ELO, Fleetwood Mac … Groups that don’t shy away from melody, but also know how to milk a groove or a heavy bit when it’s needed.” The group’s eagerness to embrace the pop tendencies of classic rock bands in an updated psych-rock fashion pays off immensely on their recent debut studio album When I Think of You in a Castle. Standout single “Ralphie” is a sunshine-drenched delight that has that same, smile-inducing jangle as E.L.O. or fellow Chicago power-pop elders Cheap Trick.

 

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