San Francisco – Austin-based duo, the Black Pumas, has been on an upwards trajectory since their self-titled debut and hit single, “Colors.” The latter has been streamed 250 million times across platforms and taken singer, songwriter Eric Burton and guitarist, producer Adrian Quesada from small gigs and street busking to Grammy award-winning superstars. This popularity was evident by the highly anticipated, back-to-back scheduled shows at the beautiful Masonic Theatre in San Francisco Wednesday, Dec 15, and Thursday, Dec 16.
The first time I caught the Pumas was at BottleRock earlier this year from a distance and amongst a massive sold-out crowd of tens of thousands. However, I was lucky enough to chat and hang out for a bit with Eric Burton after their set. Now they were back in San Francisco for more close and personal performances. The Pumas took the stage for night 2 of their double hitter, with two fantastic background singers, a bassist, a keyboardist, and a drummer. Eric Burton took the stage as though he had just transported from the ’60s, and the capacity crowd showed their welcome with cheers and rumbling applause. The stage was heavy with smoke, white and red lights flashing, and an impressive large circular logo with two pumas lit up behind them as the energy continued to elevate. Their psychedelic rock and rhythm and blues fusion were undeniable as they kicked into opening songs like “Next To You,” “I Am Ready,” and “Old Man.” Burton is an incredible, natural performer who clearly spent years honing his skills as a kid in church, then busking and playing everywhere he could, which is where he finally met Quesada. That immediate magical connection changed his life and can be seen on stage and in their fantastic grooves. You could feel the connection and love Burton had with the crowd and for performing, talking, and adlibbing through songs, taking us to church at times and inviting the fans to sing along every step of the way.
At one point, I could only hear the singer as he took to the floor, getting lost in the crowd, shaking hands, and exchanging good vibrations and his magnetic energy. It was impossible not to move and dance, as they kicked into crowd highlights like “Touch The Sky,” “Black Moon Rising,” and one of my favourites, an excellent cover of Sixto Rodriguez, “Sugar Man.” The music just flowed organically from song to song without any energy loss. If anything, the vibrations continued to rise, especially when Burton traded off with backup vocalists Angela Miller and Lauren Cervantes and gave them the spotlight for a few kickass vocal solos.
One of the best parts of the night was Burton just going into a frenzy as he continued to yell out, “Pumas can we get louder” and the band showed off their impressive tight chops as the energy just exploded. Enough so that Burton jumped off the ground and lost his hat, headbanging his dreads and dancing up a storm. The Pumas also shared their love for San Francisco with multiple shoutouts throughout the night, which got the crowd even more fired up.
The night ended with OCT 33” and, of course, their biggest hit, “Colors,” which inspired a huge sing-along and the crowd demanding an encore, clearly not getting enough of the Pumas even after an almost 2-hour incredible set. The Pumas kindly obliged with a beautiful broken-down version of “Angel,” which Burton sang with so much passion, probably recalling memories of his busking days and finally closing out with “Fire.” However, not before Burton saw an opportunity during the last tune to run through the crowd, dance with fans, and leave everyone with a sensational good feeling. In a world that’s been such a downer with the pandemic continuing to rain a dark cloud, it’s such a breath of fresh air to see artists share this much-needed connection of love with fans—showing that the Pumas are humble at heart and deserve all their current success and accolades. The show was hands down one of the best performances of 2021 as the Pumas did not disappoint!
If you haven’t picked up their album or caught a live show, you are missing out on one of the freshest gems of the music world right now.
For more info on the Black Pumas, go to: www.theblackpumas.com