Three Must-See Acts This Week: 11/21-11/27

Black Midi on Thursday at Rickshaw Stop, Dave on Friday at Rickshaw Stop and Moon Duo on Saturday at New Parish (Oakland).

Experimental rock 

black midi

8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, at Rickshaw Stop. $16; rickshawstop.com

It’s easy to understand why black midi garners so many different responses from listeners, as the London band takes notes from post-punk, progressive, and math rock, amongst other influences, for an abstract sound that uses its sonic volatility as an asset. The fast-rising quartet, all of whom met while attending art school, immediately seized the attention of London’s music scene with their intense and raucous live shows, and released their brooding debut single “Bmbmbm” in June 2018. After signing to Rough Trade Records the following January, the group would alter their live sound for the studio which allowed for expanded instrumentation and recording techniques that were impossible to recreate on stage. The band released their debut album Schlagenheim in June to wide-acclaim, with many praising the group’s talent for composing a dense and multifaceted sound that has a strong undercurrent of controlled-chaos. There are moments on Schlagenheim where black midi sound violent like The Locust and others where they channel King Crimson’s rhythmic complexities, yet the group’s revolutionary identity remains clear throughout. 

Photo by James McCauley

UK Rap/Grime

Dave

9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22, at Rickshaw Stop. $15; rickshawstop.com 

As a teenager, rapper Dave took London’s grime scene by storm, standing out amongst other emcees with his razor-sharp delivery and unapologetically conscious lyricism. With adversity and triumph already overcome in his career, the South London-rapper released his exceptional debut album Psychodrama in March, a gargantuan commercial and critical success which The Guardian named “the boldest and best British rap album in a generation.” Dave initially garnered attention in the UK with his 2016 EP Six Paths, later receiving international attention after Drake released his remix of Dave’s “Wanna Know.” Dave would dive deeper into political and social lyricism with his fiery 2017 EP Game Over, where the rapper dissects British racism and Brexit in a collected manner that makes his lyricism even more potent. Described as a concept album with a three-act structure, Dave released his debut album Psychodrama in March to universal praise, with many highlighting Dave’s ability to lyrically confront serious topics with keen insight and a steady flow. The number one UK-charting Psychodrama would win this year’s Mercury Prize, cementing Dave as an international superstar in the making. 

Photo by Sarah Anderson

Psychedelic rock 

Moon Duo 

9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23, at New Parish (Oakland) $18; thenewparish.com 

With the primal nature of proto-punk like Suicide and the experimental spirit of krautrock as primary influences for their brand of laid-back psychedelia, Moon Duo manage to reignite the imaginations of listeners with each consecutive album, with their most recent effort Stars Are the Light shining as the duo’s finest to date. The duo, composed of Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada, began their project in San Francisco but have since relocated to Portland, cementing their spacey yet groove-laden sound with acclaimed releases like 2012’s Circles and 2015’s Shadow of the Sun. After exploring the dynamics between the lightness and darkness in their sound with their ambitious double album Occult Architecture Vol. 1 & 2, the duo would go in a more upbeat direction with their next album, using ’70s funk and disco as inspirations. Released in September, Stars Are the Light is a beat-driven daydream similar to Primal Scream’s 1991 masterpiece Screamadelica that hears the duo weave through spaced-out synths and smooth guitar-licks for a breezy yet impressionable listen. 

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