REVIEW: Black Pumas welcomed at a sensational first night at the Masonic

Black Pumas, Eric Burton

Black Pumas perform at The Masonic in San Francisco on Dec. 15, 2021. Steve Carlson/STAFF.

SAN FRANCISCO  — Texas psychedelic soul band Black Pumas took the stage on Wednesday night for night one of two back-to-back shows at the Masonic. Vocalist Eric Burton and guitarist Adrian Quesada have had a meteoric rise in a short time, going from street performers to Grammy ceremony openers and nominees. On Wednesday, they performed songs from their self-titled 2019 album with two backup vocalists, a keyboardist, bassist and drummer. 

Black Pumas
8 p.m., Thursday
The Masonic
Tickets: $54 and up.

Black Pumas came out on stage to red smoke in front of a large circular logo with two pumas with their eyes flashing red. The spotlights were so bright that many of the band members wore sunglasses. One of the first songs they performed was “Next to You,” which Burton immediately sat down among the crowd to sing. Burton had met Quesada while busking his way from Los Angeles to Austin, and he appeared to thoroughly enjoy being level with the audience rather than looking down from the stage. All that could be seen of him for these first couple songs was his recognizable brown cowboy hat.

They then transitioned into “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City” with Burton standing up and having the crowd repeat the lyrics line by line: “Ain’t no love in the heart of the city, yeah/ Ain’t no love in the heart of the town, Lord/ Ain’t no love and it’s sure ’nuff a pity/ Ain’t no love when you ain’t around.”

Black Pumas, Eric Burton

Black Pumas perform at The Masonic in San Francisco on Dec. 15, 2021.

Burton’s stage presence was so natural it’s hard to believe he came from such humble beginnings. During a performance of “Old Man” he gave a “shout out to the buskers outside because that’s where I was at.” He danced, jammed, and it was also clear he had a lot of love for San Francisco, as he gave the city multiple mentions and even replaced the lyrics on “I’m Ready” to “I was born in the city of San Francisco, California.”

Backup vocalists Angela Miller and Lauren Cervantes had their moments to shine as well, including on “Know You Better.” Other songs from the album that transitioned to the stage notably included “Touch The Sky,” “Confines” and “Black Moon Rising.”

Black Pumas, Adrian Quesada

Black Pumas perform at The Masonic in San Francisco on Dec. 15, 2021.

Black Pumas ended the main set with “OCT 33” and Grammy-nominated single “Colors” before returning for an encore of “Angel,” a song Burton wrote in a subway in L.A. and really showcased his singing, and “Fire.” During this final song, he jumped off stage, made his way through the audience and danced with a fan, much to everyone’s delight.

Aaron Frazer

Aaron Frazer performs at The Masonic in San Francisco on Dec. 15, 2021.

Aaron Frazer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist of Durand Jones & The Indications, opened the show with his sad and soulful ballad “You Don’t Wanna Be My Baby” before quickly moving onto more jazzy upbeat songs like “Done Lyin’” and “My God Has A Telephone.” Other tracks played included “Have Mercy,” “Lover Girl, “Love Is” and “Bad News.” He ended his set with “If I Got It.”

Frazer crooning into the microphone under a sultry light created a soulful experience. His band included a saxophonist, trumpeter, two guitarists, drummer and keyboardist.

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