Noise Pop Review: Bag Raiders unleash signature synth-and bass-combo at the Independent

Bag Raiders

Bag Raiders perform at The Independent in San Francisco on Feb. 28, 2020. Gary Chancer/STAFF.

SAN FRANCISCO — Australian turned L.A. electro-disco duo Bag Raiders came out on stage at The Independent wearing all white, including matching bucket hats. This was its first show in San Francisco since a performance at Rickshaw Stop in 2015, and this time the duo had a whole new record of material with Horizons. It contains plenty of what the Bag Raiders do best: infectious mid-tempo indietronica jams, specializing in throbbing bass and squeaky synth melodies.

It quickly became obvious the boys were eager to show it off, starting with “Lightning.” As pastel wiggles slowly splashed forward on the screen behind them, Chris Stracey’s and Jack Glass’ voices harmonized over a steady beat. Eventually the song built to a bright, triumphant peak as the phrase “just this time” was repeated over and over before spilling joyfully back into the chorus.

They followed that up with”Break Down,” which featured a double falsetto harmony by Stracey and Glass while the screen turned into kaleidoscope around them. This slower jam kept the energy steadily pulsing. Another mid-tempo jam that employed the Bag Raiders’ favorite move—pairing another squeaky line with more bone-shuddering bass—came next. Slow jam “Wild A Heart” also brought a foundation of thick bass, it was wielded in a more casual fashion.

Bag Raiders

Bag Raiders perform at The Independent in San Francisco on Feb. 28, 2020.

Bag Raiders brought the energy back up a notch by dropping in some funky, Jamiroquai-esque vibes. After a minute or two of building upward, a drum solo arrived. Eventually another layer of synths came cascading back while the band transitioned seamlessly from one tune into another. This next song was visually backdropped by sets of rotating pastel cubes and blossoming quilts. Sonically, a carnival atmosphere was printed over a bright and bubbly groove.

The middle section of the show found the band relying a bit heavily on basic grooves and at times this felt like the musicians were too comfortable lying back within the haze of the lights instead of stepping up to command the room. Still, they used their signature thickly shaped bass and coated it across everything they could see. The next few songs made use of that technique. One song sounded like a pulsing heart monitor. A second made use of an oceanic piano melody. A third had tropical vibes that eventually devolved into all three members whacking away at he drums at he same time. “Need You Now” included a marimba intro and some reverb-laced falsetto that built into a unique-sounding pan flute and steel drum plinko jam.

As Bag Raiders rounded the corner into the home stretch, they brought out the fan favorites. “Sunlight,” from their debut self-titled album, dripped in warm, healing disco rays that were impossible not to dance to. “Medicine” had a vibrating bass and fuzzy synths that tickled the senses, leading to a cathartic reconciliation.

Finally, the band concluded with the inescapable synth wiggle of its biggest hit, “Shooting Stars,” while Stracey and Glass danced along with the crowd. While ultimately Bag Raiders could use another couple songs that really hit home in order to flesh out a fully engaging show, the high points of their set—including “Lightning” and “Medicine” from their new album and “Sunlight” and “Shooting Stars” from their debut—were certainly worth experiencing in a crowd full of enthusiastic attendees.



Another Los Angeles artist, Nasaya, opened the show with a wash of synths that gently sparkled and descended upon the crowd. Eventually the wash gave way to a steady groove of electronic rhythms. Nasaya alternated between triggering samples on a pad and taking moments to draw some blissful lines along on his guitar. The vibe was not too unlike the type of sonic waves that could be found in a Tycho song, but with a touch more groove and backbeat. Halfway through the set he was joined by a vocalist who added some jazzy and soulful vibes to the already groovy experience. The duo eventually closed its set out with a homegrown remix of MGMT’s “Electric Feel.”

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