Aftermath: Santigold at House of Blues
Photos by Kim Douglass
Puff-paint, splatter-paint, welcome to the hospital - the sterility of a trash heap greets you. Santigold = the moment hipster-embraced globalism became a commodity, and why globalism doesn't matter anymore; i.e., we're all the same. Seeing her at House of Blues is like trying to wash away your sins with a loofah made of mud-splattered porcupine. Is this some kind of joke? It's Socrates on the set of 90210, papier-mache pigs flying in a platinum-dipped sky. Does this guy think I can't turn the sink to "hot" without his help? We are Benetton's cash register. She should not have played House of Blues. Or maybe she should have. What does it mean when underground goes overground without once addressing the death of irony? Santigold is too raw for this venue, too bacterial for a stage made of Purell. The revolution will be homogenized, sucka.
That's exactly what happens when originality - something Santigold has in droves - meets banality. (The bowling alley is two escalators up, right?) Worlds collide. Don't get me wrong, the way artists like M.I.A. and Santigold are opening up heretofore unseen indie avenues is incredibly important for the future of the transnational musical conversation, but why not play Numbers or Meridian or someplace equally consistent (and almost as large) with the world these musicians are helping construct? House of Blues, while not all that inherently awful, just needs to pick its spots better. Bring in laser shows; leave grime to the grime.
Despite that, Santigold is a fantastic performer, dead-set on recognizing and using all the manifestations of the youth movement to her advantage - we need her, and she knows it. Educated as a double Music/African-American Studies major at Wesleyan, Santigold is culturally aware enough to know how collaborations with artists such as GZA and David Byrne can help sell her message. She's a piece of dynamite on a railroad track, primed to explode definition from your consciousness. On her first tour backed by a full band, Santi was able to transcend the venue, really, and deliver the most powerful tracks from incredibly powerful debut record (2008's Santogold) while completely commanding the stage in front of an audience triumphantly into the music, pulsating as one like a methadone heart.
It was jubilant. The costumes, the choreography, the uberly huge sunglasses, the minimalist light show, it all fit perfectly into the coil of the night, and everyone seemed to be high off it the whole time. Crowd favorites "L.E.S. Aristes," "Say Aha," "Lights Out," "I'm a Lady," "My Superman," "Unstoppable," and "Anne" were all terrific, framing the absolute highlight of the night, "Creator," when Santi asked seven people from the audience to jump onstage with her so long as they vowed to dance their asses off. Six of them did, but whatever. Disinfection aside, Santigold dominated in the thousands Wednesday night. She raps and she sings - no, croons - she souls and she falsettos, she dances and she sexes. With M.I.A. off making a spectacle of herself and the scene she helped create, Santigold now officially owns the genre of the non-genre.