Live Music This Week: Ryan Bingham, Chance the Rapper & Esperanza Spalding

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Because participating in culture shouldn't require an act of courage, and engaging with live music shouldn't require risking one's life. 

Monday: BIG K.R.I.T. at Slim's

BIG K.R.I.T. hails from the South and understands the struggling race relations of America as well as anyone. A long-time advocate for social progress and justice, K.R.I.T. remains positive about the direction we’re heading, and takes solace in what we’re seeing on the University of Missouri campus. He recently told Hey Reverb how proud he was to see young African Americans fighting for their rights to equality. “It’s a new generation, so it’s powerful. They took a lot from how Malcolm X and Martin Luther King took on the system. For students to be sacrificing their scholarships to change a flawed system shows strength and power. I know those football players love what they do and it’s provided the money for their education. But you have to stand for something.” 

Tuesday: Ryan Bingham at The Fillmore

Six years after the wild success of Crazy Heart—the Jeff Bridges film that brought Ryan Bingham’s soulful singer-songwriter charm to mainstream alt-Americana audiences—Bingham continues to find new muses and material. His latest release, his fifth, titled Fear and Saturday Night may be his most inspired work to date. Here’s what American Songwriter had to say: “He hasn’t run from success as much as escaped its grip to release music that’s honest, raw and comes straight from the heart.”.

Wednesday: Youth Lagoon at the Fillmore

Trevor Powers just gets it. More specifically he acknowledges he doesn't get it, and rarely feels comfortable, which serves as an impetus. The Idaho singer-songwriter known as Youth Lagoon can explain his working credo more acutely: “I’ve never felt truly comfortable. It’s this feeling of uneasiness that follows me everywhere I go because my thoughts never shut up.” “It used to exhaust me, but I’ve learned discomfort is invaluable. Safety makes us numb. It’s when we find ourselves in territories we’re unfamiliar with that we can really grow.” That makes for important subtext when analyzing his latest album, Savage Hills Ballroom, a collection of songs, as it says literally, on the album. It's not that this is unfamiliar genre terrain — it's that every turn in every song seems to navigate some novel idea or sonic loundscape. Nothing is familiar. 

Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday: Esperanza Spalding at SFJAZZ Center

The headline to Esperanza Spalding’s recent concert in London says it all: “Esperanza Spalding review – thrilling, virtuosic, baffling and fitfully exasperating.” The jazz bassist is impossible to pin down and define, unpredictable to the last note. It’s all part of the package, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The unpredictable nature of her shows is also premeditated in a sense — her theme, the child within, suits the jazz ethos remarkably well.

Saturday: Chance the Rapper at the Fox (and Sunday at the Warfield

If you haven’t heard Chance the Rapper, you’re not too late. He’s still somewhat on the cusp of stardom, but his mainstream emergence isn’t far off either. The Chicago-based emcee blends modes of jazz, soul and throwback beats in his production, and gives zero effs about conventional music biz affairs. It all began in 2012 when he uploaded his debut mixtape for free, culling the favor of bloggers and tastemakers in a hurry.

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