Originally published on February 2, 2011
Wallpaper. and K. Flay
January 28th at Slim’s, San Francisco
A diverse crowd of people looking to get down to some synth-heavy jams were lined up outside Slim’s last Friday for a night of music headlined by Oakland dance outfit Wallpaper. Fresh off of work and looking for an outrageous night out, these people had come to the right place. After many rounds of drinks had been served (and disproportionately spilled by the dancing girls in heart shaped sunglasses nearby), the show was a success, even if only measured by how much stickier the floor was by the end of the night.
Wallpaper. is the creation of Eric Frederick, a long time Bay Area musician who has been dedicated to putting out diverse styles of music over the past years. Wallpaper. is focused on the fusion of deep funk bass lines, horn accents, and electro beats that all come together to create some killer jams that absolutely make you want to dance. At first glance, a listener might disregard Wallpaper. songs as just catchy pop music, but after they have infected your ears and more time has been given to listening to the music, you realize that the layered tracks are really well put together and that time and talent were definitely involved in their creation. There’s a feeling of soul behind the music, and when coupled with some seriously ridiculous lyrics, they are definitely the first tracks to cue up on your iPod when getting ready for a weekend out with friends. Frederick performs live shows as his alter ego of Ricky Reed, a swaggering well-dressed party animal that sings tunes of Four Loko binges, hooking up with celebrities, and unpaid utility bills. The enthusiastic dancing and hilarious showmanship of Ricky Reed is probably the biggest reason for the growing fan base of this East Bay band, and they were definitely ready to headline Slim’s this past weekend.
Self-produced hip-hop artist K.Flay was one of the earlier acts of the night. She wasted no time in starting her set, as she set up behind a drum machine and began punching out a beat on the spot that built to become a thumping track to rap to. Her act was lively and very refreshing after experiencing the slightly obnoxious power-pop opening band the Dance Party. K.Flay sampled various artists including the Gossip in her mashed up tracks, which made for a foundation of upbeat recognizable mixes that got the audience’s heads nodding and hands clapping along to her raps. K.Flay’s songs were fast and entertaining rhymes about everyday life and relationships. Her sharp disses and clever similes had me thinking she would have been an entertaining addition to the rap battle round robin tournament in 8 Mile. Maybe she could be edited in for a special edition YouTube video sequel to the movie. Holding two degrees from Stanford, K.Flay is definitely on a path travelled by very few of her classmates. However, her skilful song writing and energetic live performance confirm that she is in the right place. She warmed up the stage for Wallpaper., who started playing to an already stoked audience.
After the set change, Ricky Reed ran out between mirrored drum kits while the speakers blasted the track for “T. Rex.” A very appropriate start to their set, the party anthem is all about “going big on the weekends.” This is probably Wallpaper.’s most recognizable song, and one guy had even worn his very own dinosaur costume to the show in anticipation. Wallpaper. plays with a live drummer, giving tracks an added sound boost. Arjun Singh is usually the man behind the cymbals, but he was noticeably absent. Reed reported that Singh had quit the band to pursue his first dream of becoming a Bollywood movie star. You heard it here first, guys. Arjun’s place was filled by not just one but two drummers, Derek Taylor and Tom Peyton, and even the African Drum Ensemble from Berkeley made an appearance for the last few songs. Guest vocalists were also featured, and all these added musicians made for a very dynamic Wallpaper. show. The band played through most of the songs off their 2009 release Doodoo Face, as well as some new tracks like the crunkalicious single “#STUPiDFACEDD.” The bass-dominated beat had everyone violently throwing their hands towards the stage at the end of the night. The show concluded with an encore performance of “Poison”, originally by Bell Biv Devoe, and many people climbed up to dance onstage, ending the night with a bang. This crowd came to have a good time and stumbled home or to the next bar afterwards with both high spirits and BAC percentages.