Three Must-See Acts This Week

Rival Consoles, Ruby Ibarra, and SAINt JHN.


Rival Consoles

9 p.m., Saturday, May 19, at Gray Area Art & Technology Theater. $20;

One dilemma that fascinates electronic music producers is finding the secret to making all of those synthetic bleeps and bloops sound “human.” When speaking of his instrumental electronic compositions in a Billboard interview, English producer and composer Ryan Lee West — better known as Rival Consoles — says, “Language is very powerful, but it can alienate people because it’s so precise, but music can be so ambiguous that you can say a lot of things to different people without even knowing that you’ve said it.” Indeed, West has developed his Rival Consoles project from emotive bedroom IDM to cinematic-scale electronic works that lend themselves to isolated headphone listening just as well as a large venue performance.

West, always fascinated with music and manipulating sound, dove into his production career soon after graduating university in 2007, becoming the first signee on record label Erased Tapes. He would become a prominent name in the world of avant-garde electronic music over the next decade. After experimenting with glitch music and French touch-inspired electro, West released his third studio album, Howl, in 2015, emphasizing organic sounds and analogue synths that give the carefully constructed record a distinctly warm feeling in the often cold and detached world of electronic music. Released in April, West’s newest album, Persona, shares the name of the 1966 Ingmar Bergman film and further explores the beautiful organic soundscapes on Howl, but reveals a more vulnerable side.



Ruby Ibarra

(APICENTER w/ LEX the Lexicon Artist, Chow Mane, and Rudy Kalma) 8:30 p.m., Saturday, May 19, at Bottom of the Hill. $15;

On her debut studio album, Circa91, Ruby Ibarra opens with the line, “They teach me to erase that brown / Subconsciously, I lose my crown.” Ibarra, who emigrated from the Philippines to the Bay Area with her family when she was four, has experienced firsthand the racism, marginalization, and stereotypes immigrants and women of color throughout the country struggle with on a daily basis. Circa91, a nod to the year Ibarra and her family immigrated, hears Ibarra aggressively confront these issues in an uncompromising yet personal manner. From an early age, Ibarra had an interest in hip-hop, claiming on Circa91 standout “Here” that she’s a “Product of Mac Dre, Wu-Tang, and Kanye.” Ibarra emphasizes her heritage throughout the album, seamlessly rapping in Waray and Tagalog along with English, which complements her vigorous flow and individual sound. When speaking on her creative decision to rap in Filipino dialects in an interview with PRI, Ibarra said, ”From a rapper’s standpoint, Waray and Tagalog are very percussive. I felt like it was perfect for hip-hop, it just completes the story if I also tell it from those languages. It’s beautiful languages that people need to hear.” 




8 p.m., Saturday, at May 19, at Slim’s. $22;

While still a relatively fresh name in hip-hop, elusive Brooklyn rapper SAINt JHN is no stranger to the music industry. Since 2010, he has lingered in the shadows, writing lyrics for the likes of Usher, Jidenna, and Hoodie Allen before taking the stage himself in 2016 with his debut single “1999.” Born in Brooklyn, JHN spent much of his formative years in Guyana, which influenced his artistry and flow, claiming in an interview with Billboard, “To have the background of being in Guyana gave me a really specific type of influence. Because dancehall music is really melodically driven. Sometimes, the subject matter is a bit harsh, so I can borrow from both of those things.” Collection One, JHN’s debut studio album released in March, is just as much of a reflection of JHN’s upbringing as it is of his career in the music industry. Stylistically, JHN’s flow balances rapping and singing, with standout track “Reflex” exemplifying the strength of his voice. Lyrically, JHN bounces between braggadocio and confessional thoughts, never giving the false pretense he is rapping as a character. 

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