Santigold: Live Review


Ah St Kilda, you really are a funny old place to hold a gig, aren’t you? Between your sheer impossibility to get to via public transport, your lack of viable nearby parking solutions, you really do know how to turn going to a gig into a Ulyssean type ordeal. And this doesn’t even take into account the special type of carny that seems to inhabit a gig at the Prince of Wales. No matter who is playing, there will always be several scattered amongst the other fully functioning members of society. On this particular night, however they were out in force my friends. You know, this is the type of person that thinks that the 10mm gap that you have left behind between yourself and the person in front of you so you can raise your hands to applaud would be the ideal location to “dance”. This “dance” appears to be a cross between someone suffering from an epileptic fit and those inflatable waving arm men that are slowly taking over sporting venues and used caryards across the world. The only difference is that they are nowhere near as graceful. This is usually accompanied by a fair degree of vitriol when a misplaced elbow or knee inevitably connects with said carny in an attempt to avoid a full body cramp, given that said carny’s presence has made movement every bit as extensive as when Hans Solo was encased in carbonite by Gina Rinehart. So that was fun. Not quite as fun as the rest of Santigold’s gig, but a variation on “fun” nonetheless.

The celebrity (doppelganger) spotting was also fun as it appeared that the estate of Rivers Cuomo of Weezer fame arranged to have their most Melbourne of doppelgangers show up. Weezer were the forerunners to the hipster movement (although you probably wouldn’t know that) and this was reinforced by every possible hipster cliché being exhibited. From nouveau flannie, skinny jeans, prerequisite glasses, attempted designer beard, it was all there. It probably wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch for Rivers to have shown up himself; he clearly has time on his hands as it is patently obvious that he hasn’t overly exerted himself to creating a half decent album since Pinkerton or maybe even the Green Album if I’m generous. But anyway, this isn’t really a tale of artists who clearly have better things to do; this is all about Santigold, she of the incredible sensitivity about having her name pronounced correctly, a pain that I too, understand only too well. Well that was when the gig finally started which was still a long way away yet…

The last fifteen minutes of the support (whoever she was) was actually quite good. I’ll assume that the x amount of time that I missed because I was driving around trying to park was also quite good. The first half hour of listening to someone’s iPod or Heaven forbid, Spotify playlist was also okay. The next 15 minutes after that, slightly less so. By the time an hour ticked over however, the novelty had well and truly worn off. It was therefore not a moment too soon when Santigold did finally appear on stage. Looking every bit the presidential candidate in an 80’s pantsuit (without the pants), Santigold immediately launched into You’ll Find A Way and L.E.S. Artistes from her self-titled album and all was finally well in the world. A big call starting off with probably your two most well-known songs, but this was her show and she knew exactly what she was doing. Over three sets, she kept the crowd enthralled by playing all of her hit songs and not being all Radiohead about it. Sure lush soundscapes are beautiful and nice and all, but it isn’t the real reason that anyone has come to see the show. Songs that are actually songs and that people like are good too. Masterpieces like Paranoid Android, Karma Policy, Street Spirit, Just etc and not random noises from In Rainbows would be just dandy. Compare and contrast this to Santigold, who trotted out tracks like Freak Like Me, Disparate Youth, Lights Out and Say Aha. By no means was she artistically compromised by doing this; she just made people that will only see her once every couple years, exceptionally pleased with the way the evening was panning out. This doesn’t necessarily strike me as being that bad a thing…

The set was as much theatre as it was music. In keeping with the supermarket theme of her latest release “99c”, there was very much a focus on consumerism, conspicuous consumption and to a lesser extent, selling out. Every aspect of the performance reflected this; from the signage, to the price tags to the Hypnotoad inspired video projections; this was all about conveying the impression that the most important thing in society today is to shift units, no matter what those units are. This set was a complete sensory overload.

Aside from Santigold herself, the two other stars of the show are the backup dancers. Completely stoic, perfectly synchronised, clad in black sunglasses and sporting a variety of costumes, they were every bit the female equivalents of Public Enemy’s Terminator X and every bit as vital to the performance. They were so good that they even managed of overshadow The Flaming Lips style tribute of a bubble machine blowing out bubbles across the audience during Who Be Lovin’ Me. More surprises were to come however as Santigold herself took over the bass for a track and during the encore, fellow visitor to the country, Spank Rock joined her on stage. Given their extensive history of collaboration, there were high hopes of hearing Car Song or Look At These Hoes, but the selected track of B.O.O.T.A.Y left no one disappointed.

This was by no means a perfect set by any stretch of the imagination, but was it fun? Yes. Did it highlight the multi-faceted creative tour de force that is Santigold? Undoubtedly. Would this gig have been better at The Corner Hotel which would have provided an opportunity for a cheeky Gelato Messina prior? Most definitely.

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