Putting the gold in Santigold
//JJ Brewis

For those of us without the means to afford full stadium rock shows, we are often treated to the dive bar treatment, or a straight up four-piece band without any bells and whistles. For those in the crowd at the Commodore Ballroom's Santigold performance, the audio-visual masterpiece may have been a bit overwhelming.  

Santigold, or "Santi White" on paper, treated her capacity Commodore Ballroom audience to the most colourful club-sized show she could have possibly dreamed up, complete with a pair of mirrored dancers, elaborate costume changes, and an on-stage dance party featuring 50 or so of the crowd's most excited fans.

It was impossible not to want to dance to Santigold's high energy set, which was a great spin on her already captivating album tracks. The show was like a series of individualized live music videos, each catered to the specific song with specialized choreography, an intense and almost overwhelming light show, and the odd appearance by two band members in a giant pony costume. 

The songs themselves seem to be a witch's brew of old school hip hop, 90s R&B, some drum and bass, reggae, jungle, and anything else that can be crammed in. More interestingly, each song seems to be less than three minutes long, making the genre collisions all the more impressive. On the single "L.E.S. Artistes", White commanded the crowd with a big vocal that would easily be at home on American Idol or the like, a sincere technical range with a certain flavour that is certainly distingushable from any other vocalist out there. But she's not keen to just sit comfortably belting out big choruses, instead switching it up with the urban-tinged "Creator", even rapping on "Unstoppable". 

Meanwhile, Santigold's cheerleader-esque dancers mime sledgehammers in unison, shake their booty with rigorous speed, and deliver a stadium-ready routine complete with pom-poms and flips. The routine is matched by Santigold's entire band, outfitted in African hats and multicoloured striped outfits, adding to the international flavour of the show. The musicians only lose their costumes momentarily, when the white pony costume is paraded on stage, trotting around for an entire song. 

The set had a lot going on, but specific themes lasted for one song and then were quickly tossed out for the next, like the Bollywood-inspired "Freak Like Me" which had the dancers in full Indian motif, and the pulsating rave lights creating a truly cinematic experience. On the Caribbean and Calypso-flavoured take on her new single "Disparate Youth", dancers waved umbrellas behind an intense White who got up close and personal with her fans despite the massive barracade which only seemed to provoke her interaction. She them invited a massive chunk of the crowd onstage for "Creator", which led to a floodgate of on-stage sass, ass-shaking, and Facebook profile photo self-shots. Santi even got a bit Jay-Z with a cover of his "Brooklyn (We Go Hard", which seamlessly bled into her own "Shove It".

If anything, Santigold's show is ready for the big stage. With big hooks in the songs, flashy stage appeal, and a fan base growing at a rapid pace, don't be surprised if her return to Vancouver is at a much less intimate venue. Bragging rights for those in the house at this performance, naturally.

//JJ Brewis, editor-in-chief

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