Three Must-See Acts This Week — 11/14-11/21

Vandelux with Ghostland Observatory on Friday at The Midway, Chelsea Wolfe on Saturday at The Regency Ballroom and Rexx Life Raj on Wednesday at The Independent

Indie electronic

Vandelux

(with Ghostland Observatory) 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 15, at The Midway. $25; themidwaysf.com

Blending elements of house and soul, producer-vocalist Vandelux creates a potent brand of downtempo pop that highlights the musician’s creative versatility. Born Evan White, the Vancouver-multi-instrumentalist realized his true passion was creating music soon after beginning his brief post-college career in finance, and released his trip-hop debut single “Stimulus” in 2016. White soon became a fixture in his native Vancouver’s underground beat scene with his 2017 singles “All Wrong” and “Bright Lights” highlighting the producer’s jazz-inspired approach to deep house, similar to Bob Moses. Since moving to San Francisco and producing out of a closet-turned-studio, White has collaborated with Jurassic 5’s Marc 7 for their 2018 electro-hip-hop album Futureproof, along with developing his singular sound. Last month saw the release of Vandelux’s debut EP, Lost in Common, a dreamy yet throbbing 25 minutes of futuristic house that hears White incorporate his own vocals in a subtle manner that allows them to blend with the EP’s hazy atmosphere. 

Courtesy of Artist

Experimental folk

Chelsea Wolfe

8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16, at The Regency Ballroom. $33; theregencyballroom.com

Known for her idiosyncratic hybrid of doom metal and chamber folk, Chelsea Wolfe crafts powerful music that sounds elegant yet brooding, a juxtaposition between heavy and soft sounds. The Sacramento-born singer-songwriter grew up surrounded by music as her father played in a country band. She recorded her first song at 9 years old. Wolfe’s lo-fi 2010 debut album The Grime and the Glow marries intimate folk songwriting with darker elements of black metal, a blend that Wolfe expanded upon on in her 2011 sophomore effort Apokalypsis. Wolfe’s breakout 2013 album, Pain Is Beauty, hears the musician fully embrace the darker, metal-intensive elements of her previous albums while delivering emotionally vulnerable lyricism. 2015’s Abyss and 2017’s Hiss Spun hears Wolfe dive deeper into metal’s darkest areas, as the latter album proves to be Wolfe’s most direct take on doom metal. Burned out from constant touring and creative exhaustion, Wolfe took a brief hiatus to focus on herself, and returned to her gothic-folk roots on her latest album, Birth of Violence. While traces of Wolfe’s heavy instincts remain, Birth of Violence is a softly meditative journey that hears Wolfe deliver her most introspective and effective songwriting to date. 

Courtesy of Artist

Hip-hop

Rexx Life Raj

8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 20, at The Independent. $15; theindependentsf.com 

A compelling lyricist with a singular gospel-tinged flow, Rexx Life Raj is a genre-defiant force that delivers thoughtful and intricately-layered hip-hop with his newest album, Father Figure 3: Somewhere out There. The Berkeley rapper, born Faraji Wright, grew up in a strict household where athletics and schoolwork were his priorities, and played for Boise State’s D1 football program while in college. Raj focused on creating music full-time after graduating, releasing a pair of EPs in 2014, Portraits and Hidden Clouds, getting his first breakthrough with his excellent 2016 debut album Father Figure. The album introduces listeners to Raj’s confessional and often political lyricism, as the wordsmith delivers clever yet straight-faced rhymes with tracks like “Handheld GPS” and “Moxie Java.” The rapper followed up the next year with a sequel album, Father Figure 2: Flourish, which expanded upon its predecessor with slicker production and Raj developing his half-sung flow. Billed as the third in the trilogy, Raj released Father Figure 3 earlier this month, and it stands out as the rapper’s finest release yet, with collaborations from Russ and Kehlani.

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