REVIEW: Anderson .Paak delivers a Grammy-worthy performance at the Masonic

Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, Anderson Paak

Anderson .Paak performs at The Masonic in San Francisco on Feb. 11, 2019. Photos: Shawn Robbins.

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s barely 2019 but Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals’ performance Monday at the Masonic Auditorium just might be the most virtuosic and energetic to grace Bay Area stages this year. Paak kicked off his Oxnard Tour the night after his single “Bubblin” won the Grammy for Best Rap Performance.

There is nothing gimmicky about Anderson .Paak, who pulled no punches and managed to keep the room bouncing for more than an hour. He was an artist at the height of his powers, a renaissance man of sorts. Paak and his band began with Oxnard opener “The Chase,” a ’70s Afro-funk track that found .Paak playing the drums while he fired off lyrics about life in his hometown. He followed that with “Who R U,” which exploded with James-Brown-like improvised dance and flashing lights, “Bubblin” and “Milk N’ Honey,” a track from 2014’s Venice.

For “Glowed Up,” .Paak dished out the sharp flows he contributed to the Kaytranada track off the 2006 album 99%. Next came “6 Summers,” a catchy and topical tune; “Smile/Petty” and “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance,” one of the best songs off Malibu.

Anderson .Paak then turned the spotlight to his band with “Beauty & Essex,” which grooved with the sensuality of Marvin Gaye. “Suede,” a song by NxWorries, .Paak’s other band, included some audience call and response with his catchphrase, “YAS LAWD!’

Fans enthusiastically screamed back lyrics to “Come Down” and “Tints,” before .Paak closed the show with an encore featuring the groovy “Am I Wrong,” “Light Weight” and a somber tribute to friend Mac Miller with his charming tune “Dang!”

Texas singer-songwriter Tayla Parx opened the concert with a production that involved inflatable cacti and a set of well-crafted and sharp pop songs. She opened with “Disconnected,” “I Want You” and “Jeffery,” all from the 2016 mixtape Tayla Made. The songs were tight and geared for a large audience, which isn’t surprising considering she’s contributed writing credits to albums for Ariana Grande, Khalid and Jennifer Lopez. The set included equally fun songs like “Love Lies,” “Me vs Us” and “Read Your Mind,” as well as the  cathartically visceral “Marnb,” which recalled Jessie Reyez’s more aggressive moments.

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