Santigold @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

It’s been eight months since I’ve written about a show! While don’t have much of a clue as to how that’s happened considering that I’ve been to tons of shows in the meantime, seeing Santigold with a little bit of Spank Rock (I got there a bit late) last night has made me jump back into this.

So yes, last night I went to see one of Santigold’s sold out shows at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. It’s been four years since I saw her back in 2007 at Steve Aoki’s Neighborhood Fest in Expo Park. Back then, her amazing debut album hadn’t come out yet, but she was building on the success of the early Creator/L.E.S. Artists EP (I had no idea what the L.E.S. was until I lived there three years later.) Not to get too nostalgic or anything (that was the first show I went to as a freshman at USC), but I only spent $40 to go to a show with Spank Rock, Santigold, Crystal Castles, Chromeo, Kid Sister, DJ AM, and The Faint! I think Spank Rock, Chromeo, and The Faint were the only artists with legit LPs out, and I remember thinking that Crystal Castles with Alice chugging a handle of vodka on stage were pretty out-there.

Back to last night’s show. It was exactly what I wanted it to be: fun. Obviously, you go to different shows with different intentions and expectations. I don’t always expect to have fun at the shows I go to. For example, I saw Girls and Real Estate on Saturday, and while it was a great show (Girls reeeaallly got their stuff together with their live show for the new album), I wouldn’t describe it as fun.

Santigold started off with “Go”, and Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs came out to do her spot on the song! From there, the setlist continued with a majority of the songs off the first album and probably about four new songs that’ll be on her upcoming sophomore effort. Stuff like “Creator”, “L.E.S. Artists”, “Lights Out”, and “Say Aha” went off perfectly. The new material all sounded great. I remember thinking that while the beats were fast, her delivery was more laid back – like she was riding the beat more than on her first album. But that’s just a first judgement of songs heard live. We also got some of the tracks that aren’t Santigold originals like Major Lazer’s “Hold the Line” and “B.O.O.T.A.Y.” was the finale of the whole show with Spank Rock coming back out to perform it alongside her.

Aside from the awesome music, Santi has really put together a fully-fledged show for her upcoming tour. Along with two costume changes, she had two backup singers / dancers who had choreographed moves for every moment of every song. She also had a three piece band consisting of a drummer and two multi-instrumentalists backing her rather than just a DJ. And in my opinion, the difference that this makes is hard to overstate.

Like I said, it was a fun show. The crowd was dancing throughout, and it seemed like everyone knew her first album really well. Shows are so much better when the crowd knows the material. The artist loves that the crowd loves them, and the crowd loves that the artist is having a great time. That’s exactly what happened last night.

A few quick notes on pop music producers

Tonight I went through the new Britney Spears album. It’s streaming on the AOL Music site. This is not a review of that album, although I do intend to write one because I find it an incredibly interesting listen and lesson on pop development. I’ve become intrigued with the production of pop music as of late, and this album only pushed me further down that path.

I just want to point out a few things that I discovered while researching the production of her album.

  1. Bloodshy & Avant = 2/3 of Miike Snow. Now I understand why Miike Snow makes great pop music: the guys in the band wrote Toxic.
  2. Benny Blanco, the guy who did a filthy, “raunchy, megahorny hip-hop” album with Spank Rock that I listened to a few summers ago writes songs for Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Justin Bieber, and Ciara, to name a few.
  3. Darkchild kinda seems like a self-absorbed loudmouth.

Neighborhood Festival 2007

kid sister
Melisa Young aka Kid Sister

I have never been to a concert/festival like the Neighborhood Festival, but I can assuredly say that I will go again next year. Here’s the premise: Steve Aoki puts together this indie festival of artists on his label and his friends who just put on amazing shows. I’ll just give a rundown of the artists I saw and listened/danced/rocked/jumped to.

Starting off the day (around 3:30) was Funeral Party. I’ve never heard of them before, but they are the epitome of an indie scene punk band, complete with synths and a great bassist. They have great style and put on a great show. For opener, they started things off on the right foot.

Next up were Andre Legacy and Dirt Nasty. Two rappers who couldn’t write a serious verse if their lives depended on it. Then again, no one was in the mood to listen to some hardcore deep rap, so they fit in perfectly. Hilarious and off-color.

I believe that Squeak E Clean followed. Again, an artist (actually a DJ) who I’ve never heard of. Simply stated, starting off with MIA is a sure way to my heart. Following with some Justice, Daft Punk, Klaxons, Hot Chip, and other great electro kept me all ears throughout his entire set. First real DJ set I’ve watched and paid attention to, it was a great mix.

It got confusing here because I thought that Guns ‘n Bombs was up next, but only Johnny Love came out and started to spin some heavy noise glitch stuff when something went wrong with the needles. They weren’t playing something right and when he’d fade to one of the tables, it’d cut out. Odd, annoying.

Har Mar Superstar. What a show. I’m not saying I liked it, I’m still not sure. It was outlandish to say the least. I’ll leave it at that.

Here’s where the good stuff comes in (read: the DJs/rappers/artists who I’m familiar with). Flosstradamus came out and the crowds gathered (it was around 5/6ish). How they mix electro with hip hop and mainstream tech house is beyond me, but it works perfectly and the crowd loves it. I forget what the mix was, but they just went straight into Big Pimpin’ from an electro song. WHO DOES THAT? Pure genius.

So J2K stayed on the decks and Autobot went out onstage to meet Kid Sister who put on an amazing performance. Kid Sister is an amazing rapper and she puts on an incredible show wherever she goes (at least thats what I’ve read and seen). Following in the footsteps of MIA (as many female rappers are right now), the energy in her shows is so high and she’s all over the whole stage the entire time.

Moving away from hip hop/rap, we go to Crystal Castles. I don’t know who did the lineup, but I guess they had to throw them in somewhere. This 8-bit massacre tore the crowd to shreds. Probably the most hardcore artist here, even though their genre/classification falls somewhere in-between electropop and 8-bit industrial.

Back to the DJs. Steve Aoki (the creator of all of this) was up next. Again, mixing the electro with mainstream tech and some Yo Majesty! (I’m pretty sure it was Aoki who threw them in there). Somewhere amid Daft Punk’s Television Rules the Nation and Steam Machine, Aoki become possesed by some DJ gods and decided to stage dive into the crowd, something I’ve never seen a DJ do. It was amazing, he got passed over me, and like a good crowd, we got him back up onstage just in time for the next song to come in. Incredible. And as a side note, it was pretty cool seeing all of the artists playing at the festival come onstage for Aoki just to show their support for him.

Wrapping up the DJ set was DJ AM who kept the electro going for his 40 minutes. Good mix, not too eventful though.

And the heavy hitters are now ready to perform. Chromeo was next to take the stage openning with the intro to their latest album, it was obvious that this would be the funkiest performance of the night. They kept the crowd dancing for their entire set and it was sweet when we all started chanting “2 step, 2 step, 2 step” for the best song: Fancy Footwork. It took a couple more songs to get there, but they finally closed with it, and every just went insane. I’ve never really been in a crowd where the intention is dancing, not moshing. It’s a nice change of pace.

Wrapping up my night (I left a bit early) was a knockout lineup of Spank Rock, Amanda Blank, and Santogold. Amanda Blank and Santogold are two girls who are also following in the path the MIA has laid down for indie female rappers. Spank Rock got big at the same time as MIA, so I figure that they are equals in terms of innovative sounds. Yet another great set that kept the crowd going until their 40 minutes were up.

Mickey Avalon took the stage next, but I had had enough. My feet were killing me, and Avalon isn’t really up my alley of musical tastes. I decided to call it a night, it was time.

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