Keep it in your headphones

Murder can be fun: In a press release sent out earlier this summer, the members of Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks described themselves as “a murderous cannibalistic” band, including a “leather-masked Guitar wielding Avey Tare … his knife-wielding keyboard player … and their cannibal chief Drummer.” It’s big talk for a band of what look like pretty nice folk, and the music, though slightly experimental, is pretty tame to fans acquainted with Avey’s solo work or that of his other group, Animal Collective. A revised description would more accurately read, “dude with puckish energy, girl with a prodigious vocal range and a drummer who spurns predictable timing.” That obviously lacks the same ring as the “cannibal” version, but that’s also why I don’t write press releases.

Dave Porter, a.k.a. Avey Tare, has been holding down his spot in the avant-pop group Animal Collective since 2000 as the weird synergist to bandmate Panda Bear’s pop sensibilities. Wailing, yowling, losing himself in effect pedals that often give Animal Collective songs a drifting feeling—it’s the same role Avey plays in Slasher Flicks, only this time, the melodic drift is anchored by former Dirty Projectors’ member Angel Deradoorian, whose vocal acrobatics give an accessibility to the wandering psychedelia.

Taking the stage before a packed house at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub on August 27, the crowd seemed as excited to see Avey’s “cannibalistic” incarnation as they were about checking out the actual headlining act, veteran ambient rockers Deerhunter. Slasher Flick’s psych-heavy set featured Deradoorian on synth, her voice intermingling with Avey’s muddled and loping vocals. Many of the songs started out focused and spaced out toward the middle, and finally warped back into something beat-stable that had the crowd dancing again.

Deradoorian has Sacramento-area roots, and is probably the closest the central city will ever get to a Dirty Projectors show.

The unfortunate nature of ambient rock performed live is it often just makes you want to sit down, and such was the case when Deerhunter took the stage. Neither notably faulty nor especially memorable, the closing set walked a fine line between epically ambient and too dreamscapey to hold one’s attention. The conclusion: It’s good, but keep it in your headphones.

—Julianna Boggs

Easy on the sizzurp: “What a nice young man!” isn’t necessarily the phrase one would expect to be uttering while leaving the Sleep Train Arena after a Lil Wayne concert, but it is definitely fitting. During the rapper’s long set on August 17, his tatted, pierced face was all smiles—projected clearly on the venue’s jumbo screens. He even reminded the audience that “I ain’t shit without you!” multiple times.

The America’s Most Wanted Tour, also featuring 2 Chainz and T.I., hit a bump before its Sacramento arrival when 2 Chainz was arrested in Oklahoma City for weed possession. There, he had a nine-hour standoff with cops in which he refused to get off his bus. In Sac, however, not only did he get off the bus, but he started his set so early, that I spent it in the beer line.

T.I. is as handsome and relevant as ever, but it’s hard to take his gangster poses seriously if you’ve seen his reality show featuring his wife. On T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle, he’s more concerned with the crayon on his white couch than he is with being hard. On this night, the sound of his backing band was terrible and drowned out the signature grandiose production on hits like “Rubber Band Man” and “Whatever You Like.” On the latter, he stripped down to velour track pants and promised to “put this big boy in your life,” which got the ladies screaming. Or at least this lady.

Lil Wayne’s elaborate set featured creepy projections, a crew of skaters and pyrotechnics, but he would have been amazing without any of those trappings. The big surprise of the night was that he can actually sing, even though his voice is usually heavily Auto-tuned on recordings.

He went through hit after hit, including “Lollipop,” “A Milli” and three tracks of his new album I Am Not a Human Being II.

The emotional high point, possibly of my life, was when saying, “I brought my family along with me,” Lil Wayne had his surrogate father and Cash Money Records creator Birdman come out on stage. The two did a few verses together, and then Birdman went backstage, presumably to go count his massive stacks of money.

At the end, Lil Wayne skated gingerly for about 30 seconds, seeming afraid that he might bite it in front of the large crowd, and then thanked everyone again. He seemed healthy and happy—let’s hope he goes easy on the sizzurp, so that he stays that way.

—Becky Grunewald