By Chris M. Junior
With about 10 minutes of stage time left during his Aug. 23 headlining gig at SOB’s in New York, singer-guitarist Xavier Dphrepaulezz — better known as Fantastic Negrito — paused so he and his bandmates could discuss what to play next.
“And then we’ll have nine minutes,” he deadpanned, eliciting some laughs from the crowd.
Something else came from the audience: a request to play “Dark Windows,” which was not on the set list at the feet of Dphrepaulezz. That prompted him to quickly return to his microphone and share an anecdote about the song’s inspiration, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, who befriended and mentored Dphrepaulezz when they toured together in 2016.
Not only is the dreamy, soulful “Dark Windows” one of the best songs on the second Fantastic Negrito album, this year’s “Please Don’t Be Dead,” the SOB’s performance of it by Dphrepaulezz and his flexible three-piece band was among the best performances of the night, along with the funky “Bulls**t Anthem” (the closing track on “Dead”) and the heavy “Plastic Hamburgers” (the album’s opener).
“Scary Woman,” “Hump Thru the Winter” and “Lost in a Crowd,” among others, represented “The Last Days of Oakland,” the Grammy-winning FN debut album released in 2016. And by inserting breakdowns and singalong sections into certain songs, Dphrepaulezz managed to further expand the characteristics — and the appeal — of his distinct style of borderless blues.
Fantastic Negrito’s next scheduled show is Aug. 26 at Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, New York, followed by 13 more dates, the last of which is Sept. 30 in Dana Point, California.