Santogold and Mates of State
October 7, 2008
Better Than: 90210 on the CW and homework
Review by Melissa Baron, Photos by Mekuria Getinet
The house lights dimmed as dance music played. Eager fans chattered and danced in anticipation. The stage was bare aside from two microphone stands on either side and a DJ set up in the back. The headliner's DJ took the stage and started mixing. Out hopped two women, nearly identical in appearance. They wore white sunglasses, white ruffled blouses, funky spandex pants and silver sparkly Toms. The audience erupted in applause as Philly's Santogold (aka Santi White) walked out, clad in bright yellow pants and a studded leather jacket. From the very beginning, it became evident this wasn't just a show, but a spectacle.
The crowd immediately began feverishly dancing as Santogold performed hits from her self-titled album released last April. Her set list included "Lights Out," "Starstruck," "Shove It," "Say Aha," "Unstoppable," and a great cover of the Clash's "Guns of Brixton." She paired excellent live vocals with a vivacious stage presence. It seemed like she addressed each person in the venue by working the stage, targeting different sections and making avid eye contact. More importantly, it felt like she was having a great time and enjoying performing and that sentiment gripped each enthusiastic fan. The combination of the synchronized dancers and Santogold's lively stage movement kept the performance interesting and the large space almost felt intimate. Or at least it was packed so full of sweaty dancers that the venue felt quite small. Her pre-encore performance cumulated with some audience participation. In the style of artists like M.I.A., Santogold invited selected members of the crowd to dance on stage. A femme dude got sexy, a girl danced in her bra and another dude did some break dancing. A handful of other folks attempted to show Santogold and San Francisco their best moves.
California via Kansas band Mates of State provided interesting contrast to Santogold. They drew out their own separate fan base, but also managed to entertain the masses. Mates are one of the cutest bands of all time. In addition to playing delightful indie pop, they're a husband and wife team. Is anything more precious than husband and wife united in life and in music? Absolutely not. Despite the distraction of Santogold's large DJ set sitting in the back of the stage, the band managed the large stage and room fairly well. Their sweet, poppy duets filled the room, though drummer/singer Jason Hammel's vocals were occasionally too quiet.
Mates played many songs from hit records "Our Constant Concern" (Polyvinyl), "Team Boo" (Polyvinyl), "Bring It Back" (Barsuk) and their newest record, May's "Re-Arrange Us" (Barsuk). Their set list included "Now," "Fraud in the 80s," "Like U Crazy" (parts of the song were articulated differently than the recorded version, especially the articulation of the extended "I"), "Think Long" (featuring cello!), "Goods," "Ha Ha," "The Re-Arranger" and more.
Sure, the lineup was a little weird. The bands may have made much more sense on an iPod shuffle than sharing a stage. However, both Santogold and Mates of State brought a solid performance to the Fillmore. For a Myspace show, I expected worse.
Personal Bias: I went to the show because I love Mates of State.
Random Detail: The show sold out completely.
By the Way: They take the show to Southern California on the 10th.