Santigold @ The Commodore Ballroom – May 26th 2012


My first introduction to Santigold was completely by accident. I’d come across her debut album Santigold at a friend’s place. The first song to lure me in was “Creator” – the beat, the rhythm, her voice – it all just kind of punched me in the face (no, not literally). She reminded me of M.I.A. with her dub/electronic/reggae-esque style that it just made me want to move to it. When I discovered a few months ago that she’d be hitting the Commodore on May 26th to support her sophomore album Master of My Make-Believe I knew I needed to see this woman perform live.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen much of Santigold do anything. I knew I loved her music, that she’s been repeatedly compared to M.I.A., and that she is inspired by ‘80s pop music which is all good when you listen to her unique take on it. Plus, I had heard through the grapevine that she puts on a good show. But just like when a friend tells you that a movie they saw was the best thing ever, I tried not to give in to all the hype – I didn’t want to walk into the sold out Commodore show on Saturday with high expectations only to be disappointed. I hate when that happens.

As I entered the Commodore, I was surprised to see how sparse the crowd was. I guess that’s one of the things I adore about the Commodore: if you have no interest in the opening band, you can show up just as the headliner is stepping onto the stage and still have an amazing view of all that’s happening. And if you’re really persistent, you can push your way to the front for the best view even if the headliner is mid-show. It’s super sweet, but it will also get you some dirty cut-eye from others. Consider yourself warned.

When the opener Trouble Andrew hit the stage they weren’t entirely what I expected. When you hear that an opener is a band you never knew existed, it’s always a gamble as to whether they’ll be any good or not, and whether they’ll be worth listening to. I was pleasantly surprised by this 3-piece band who rocked a tight show with their danceable punk-style tunes. They were also really engaging and appeared to really be having fun, which is always a bit infectious and gets the crowd going. A perfect start to an evening that only gets better.

Shortly after 11pm, the Santigold players hit the stage with backup dancers in tow. First of all, let me just express that every band should come with backup dancers – but I’m getting ahead of myself. When Santigold herself came out onto the stage donned in something shiny and sparkly, the crowd lit up. Apparently even the other concert goers had heard she put on a good show. Opening with the song “Go” from her new album, her and her dancers were completely in tune with one another. Every step and every movement was in sync as she serenaded the exuberant crowd.

One of the things that Santigold didn’t do a whole lot of that night was chat with the crowd. Most bands are all over chatting away while they set up for the next song or perhaps to take a breather, but not her. The biggest crowd interaction was when she began randomly selecting people from the audience to come up on stage for a song and dance away. Packed with people, they played while excited fans strutted their stuff. And those backup dancers – always in time – continued on like they were still the only ones up there.

As with all bands nowadays, there was naturally an encore – does anyone not do this anymore? But of course, the crowd was hungry for so much more and Santigold never let up. With the same energy that she brought at the beginning, she continued all the way to the end in the same, robust vain and I loved every single minute of it. The queen of cool can’t be more than 5’ tall, but she makes an enormous impression with non-stop energy, solid tunes, and a couple of backup dancers that were so great to watch, it was all I could hear anyone talk about at the end of the night. But don’t take my word for it, you need to experience it for yourself.

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