Santigold made her highly publicized Brandeis debut last Saturday with opener Theophilus London. The performance was well worth the $10 ticket cost, although vouchers for half-price tickets were available for two days after the concert was announced. Both acts were poppy and infectious, and the crowd was left buzzing with energy.
Theophilus London was born in Trinidad and raised in Brooklyn, before moving to the Poconos in Pennsylvania. Upon graduation from high school in 2006, he recorded several mixtapes before hitting his stride with the “Lovers Holiday” EP, featuring Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio, Sara Quin and Solange Knowles. London blew up in 2011 when he performed at the Cannes Film Festival, releasing his debut album “Timez Are Weird These Days” that summer.
London brought strong stage presence to his set, which is designed to pump up the crowd for both himself and Santigold. The phrase “put your hands in the air” was bandied about quite a bit for multiple songs. That’s not to say that London is anything ordinary: His music is characterized by aggressive bass and strange electro-pop sounds that are coupled with old-school breakbeat drums. His lyrics are also less self-aggrandizing than those of other performers in his genre.
London, however, might be deserving of such an ego. The rapper has an impeccable fashion sense and moves well on stage. London chatted up the crowd on topics such as how to live one’s life and the merits of having a good time. All told, London and his retainers played a great set and left the audience fired up for Santigold.
Santigold (real name Santi White) got her start in music early on at Wesleyan, double-majoring in Music and African-American Studies. She worked for Epic Records for a time before leaving to co-write and executive produce singer Res’ debut album. Santigold was the lead singer for Philadelphia punk band Stiffed before being offered a solo contract from Lizard King Records. Her debut album was released in April 2008 to critical acclaim, opening for Coldplay and touring with M.I.A. and Bjork, as well as supporting Kanye West, Jay-Z and the Beastie Boys. Her sophomore album was released this past year, again to overwhelmingly positive reviews, performing for Stephen Colbert and opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Santigold has also collaborated with various artists such as Spank Rock, N.E.R.D. and the Beastie Boys.
When Santigold took the stage, the crowd roughly doubled in intensity. Every bit of Santigold’s performance commanded attention: Her backup dancers displayed incredible moves, the instrumentalists’ costumes bore a creative Egyption flare, and Santigold herself dressed in extravagant yet tasteful outfits. The members’ style of dress contributed heavily to the performance; there were around three or four costume changes, each one more and more elaborate. The designs ranged from garish, fluorescent greens and yellows to black-and-white maid outfits to simple black and gold dresses. The dancers paraded around with pom-poms, whips, umbrellas and hammers, occasionally distracting the crowd while Santigold changed. The drummer and keyboardist mysteriously disappeared for one song, only to come back onstage in a horse costume. Santigold’s music is catchy to boot; while it successfully fits into the pop genre, it has enough of an electro-punk bent to make it completely unique. When it comes to crowd control, Santigold has everything covered. The audience cheered for just about everything: the start of a song, when the dancers performed exceptionally well and when Santigold addressed them. There was quite a bit of crowd interaction, as well. Santigold extolled college life (and upon seeing a couple in the audience, college romance) and invited close to four dozen people onstage to dance with her.
She was affable and spunky, and the crowd liked it so much that she played a one-song encore, “Unstoppable.”