Three Must-See Acts This Week

JPEGMAFIA with Vince Staples on Friday at the Fox, Bad Sounds on Saturday at August Hall, and The Magician on Sunday at Audio.

Experimental hip-hop


(with Vince Staples) 8 p.m., Friday, March 29, at Fox Theater Oakland. $35;

Unapologetically abrasive and confrontational, Barrington Hendricks — better known as JPEGMAFIA — is willing to take aim at anyone who deserves to be put on blast. He harbors a fight-fire-with-fire mentality that makes his politically charged hip-hop feel necessary in an era plagued by superficiality and existential anxiety. Hendricks was born and raised in New York but moved at age 13 to Alabama, where the racism he encountered would affect his music later in life. After high school, Hendricks joined the Air Force, where he was deployed to the Middle East and spent time in Germany and Japan, where he began to produce his own music. Following his honorable discharge, Hendricks moved to Baltimore in 2015 and furthered his career as JPEGMAFIA, building a fanbase off self-released mixtapes Communist Slow Jams and Darkskin Manson. The following year saw the release of two albums, Black Ben Carson and The Second Amendment, each of which made Hendricks an immediate icon within underground rap circles in Baltimore and online. JPEGMAFIA’s most recent album, last year’s Veteran, is a noise-ravaged dose of avant-garde hip-hop that seeks to provoke listener out of their comfort zone with carefully calculated anger and a delirious sense of dark humor, all while lyrically confronting toxic masculinity and systemic racism. 

Photo by Lewis Evans

Indie pop

Bad Sounds

(with BROODS) 8 p.m., Saturday, March 30, at August Hall. $25;

The product of two English brothers with wildly different musical backgrounds, Bad Sounds excels at taking disparate elements from funk and hip-hop to play their unique brand of psychedelic pop. Callum and Ewan Merritt each grew up playing in local bands, with Callum interested in classic soul and pop in the vein of Marvin Gaye, while Ewan was more keen on hip-hop and producing beats. The pair began producing music as Bad Sounds in 2014 after realizing their individual talents blended well together, experimenting with sample-heavy production and slacker-rap tendencies. Their sunny debut single, “Wages,” proved to be their breakthrough as BBC Radio DJ Annie Mac played the track soon after its release. Building off the energy “Wages” received. Bad Sounds released their debut album, Get Better, last August, giving listeners a fuzzy and psychedelic-induced of radiant indie pop that almost sounds like the modern combination of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and Beck’s Odelay. On stage, Bad Sounds’ sing-along-ready material takes on a life of its own, and the Merritt brothers’ irresistible energy always rubs off on the audience.

Courtesy of artist


The Magician

1-6 p.m., Sunday, March 31, at Audio. $20;

With two decades of experience thriving in the dance music industry either as one half of Aeroplane or solo as The Magician, Stephen Fasano shows no signs of slowing down, sparking off 2019 with the equally sensual and groovy single “Ready To Love.” The Belgium-born producer and DJ grew up mesmerized by pop and disco from ABBA and Giorgio Moroder, and eventually became an Italo-disco DJ, taking inspiration from his uncle. Fasano would collaborate with like-minded producer Vito de Luca under the moniker Aeroplane in 2007, with their 2010 debut album We Can’t Fly amongst the best that nu-disco has to offer. Fasano left Aeroplane soon after, to produce solo material as The Magician. Steadily building positive buzz off of two EPs and a mixtape series called “Magic Tapes,” The Magician’s stock rose exponentially after producing successful remixes for Lykke Li, Clean Bandit, and Chromeo, singing to Parlophone Records by the end of 2013. The following year brought greater success to Fasano, with his club-ready singles “When the Night is Over” and the Years & Years collaboration “Sunlight” finding airplay in the U.K. and Belgium. Fasano as The Magician has since become a beloved treasure on the club and festival circuit, proving to listeners he always has different tricks under his sleeve with enchanting DJ sets and inspired new material. 

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