Crumb plays sonic acid trip at Slim’s in San Francisco

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Sometimes, waiting until 11 p.m. for a headliner to go onstage feels more like a chore than a fun Friday night. In the case of Crumb’s Oct. 4 show at Slim’s, this late start time was overly appropriate — the mellow melodies and cerebral storytelling guided fans into a haze, a mix of bedtime stories and phantasms. 

Having released its newest album, Jinx, during the summer, Crumb came back to the Bay Area with a whole new palette of songs to perform since the band’s previous show in March. The new record falls closely in line with the vibe of the previous EPs, so the charming kaleidoscope of psychoactive sounds was sure to meet even the highest of expectations. 

Introduced as “the littest band ever” once onstage, Crumb, founded in Boston, began the night with a galactic performance of “Jinx,” the titular track off of its newest album. As the chorus repeated “We all get lost, but we all come back,” smoke from the crowd began to rise into the rafters of the intimate venue.   

With the strum of a bright guitar, the first lyrics of “Plants” swam over the crowd. Lead singer Lila Ramani often struggled to reach the high notes of the song, but the vocalist asked fans to excuse the rasp, as her voice had been acting up. Although this felt like an excuse, her inability to stretch for the notes — a prevailing trend in March — Ramani’s imperfection proved to be one of the most alluring details of the band.  

As pixelated waves glided in and out of sight on the projected background, the band crooned about having never played two nights in a row for a tour until this performance. The previous spring show sold out at lightning speed, so this double feature made the band feel more than welcome a second time around — especially since the Friday night date sold out just as quickly as before.

And after this anecdotal moment, a shoegaze drift hit the audience with “Nina.” While the song started off calm and collected, a loud fog of instruments sent eardrums vibrating — a much more intense experience than the recorded version provides. The vocal effects made for a dark listen, with layers of reverb echoing into oblivion. 

A racecar-shaped balloon was randomly lifted onstage after the madness, Ramani saying, “This is my new car, just bought it today,” as she tied it to the drum set. Gearing up to premiere a new song, the band engaged in a more upbeat surf rock moment, potentially telling of a shift of pace for upcoming releases. 

But this was a temporary shift for the show, the usual sound continuing with “M.R.” A more disorienting track on Jinx, its dragging nature led casually into “Part III,” bringing the energy back up as the end of the show approached. 

As the first riffs of “Locket” began, the excitement was palpable, with energy building up in the audience. Once the drop hit, movement waved across the room as fans swayed to the trip-inducing music. The band played through the instrumental outro, and the crowd went wild for the rather tranquil tune. 

The crowd cheered for an encore that never came, one audience member yelling out, “Let’s sweep these crumbs off the table!” to somehow encourage the band to come back onstage. But the blunt walk offstage was just Crumb’s style — this bedtime story was over for the night. 

Highlights: “Ghostride,” “Locket,” “Plants”

Skylar De Paul covers music. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.