25 Jun
La Femme Nikita prefers her Santi to her Kuti


I’ve got some peeps into this whole “World” music thing. I see nothing wrong with it, I love the world—I wish I could save it. My girl, she has some serious Afro-cumbia-salsa shaking tastes. I’ll admit; her taste in music has raised the occasional eyebrow on my forehead. Don’t get me wrong, the world is a big supermarket and sometimes getting lost in it is the best thing you can do. There’s nothing wrong with expanding the brain. So when my buddy, that’s my girl, tells me not to fear, we’re going to catch none other than Femi Kuti—to which I say: Remind me again what this “world” umbrella is meant to encompass? Maybe a lot of drums smacked together by some seriously syncopated slaps? Look, I know I’m supposed to love Femi, and I know how his dad is basically a god in half the known world, but it just doesn’t punch my particular ticket.

Continue reading La Femme Nikita’s Santigold review after the Jump…

But there actually is one name in the lineup I know and love—Santigold. I’ve never really known how to classify Santigold’s sound either and while I was more confused than ever about this “world” business, I was sure about one thing and that was that I was going—to see Santi. She’s gold.

When we get there, Raphael Saadiq is warming the stage, but I’m not totally feeling it. I kept waiting for tunes from Tony Toni Tone, but homie decides he wants me to enjoy his more personal oeuvre. I don’t. But it is enough to give me time to get to the nosebleed seats, uncork my wine, and arrange my eats before Santigold gets me up off my ass.

And that’s exactly what she does. The minute I see the big bling of her earrings, I have the shining premonition that it is about to be time to get moving. And I am right. The beats are banging and her voice is calling—beautifully so.

Santi announces that she is here on the very last night of her tour. Despite her being about an alphabet’s number of rows beneath me and despite the deadpan expressions of her sideshow standing around her with deadpan frozen Raybanned faces, I am feeling her energy. Santigold—formerly known as Santogold before the lawsuits that only Hollywood semantics can conjure—is clearly what the people came to see. I clear out my share of the chicken-bucket because good food has suddenly become a nuisance. I don’t want to hold up a drumstick when she tells me to wave my hands from side to side. Trash the snacks, down the cheap wine—I don’t have time for anything else but to do my part in absorbing the fact that this full house is about to get rocked. She sings out to Brooklyn, and though that’s a place across the map, we cheer her on too and help her represent. Judging by the one guy ahead of me in the tight purple jeans (who is flailing his shirt over his head in rattail while he is screaming, jumping, and possibly vogue-posing too) the crowd is completely feeling her…I’m way back here and my heart is warm, so I can imagine the sentiments of the people she handpicks from the audience to join her on stage.

The one thing is she sounds good. Real good. But maybe too good? I know she trained her pipes singing hardcore with her Philly band Stiffed, but could she really sound so precise live? I’m not saying she lip-synched, but I am saying that afterwards about half of my friends — and then half my friends on Facebook — were wondering the same thing. If that shit is for real, then Santi has a looooong career aheard of her.

As if you needed to hear me say that to believe it. But as much as she gives props to her own town, she also gives props to other performers as well, and everyone in the Bowl is feeling it when she covers the Cure’s “Killing an Arab”. Man, we are sad to see her go. It is always over so fast.

And then the tiny orange grass skirts get to shaking over big legs as the back up girls go to work behind Femi Kuti. I see enough instruments and band members to fill up a junior high music shop, and remember my earlier thoughts of “World” music. And while I am not disappointed, I am just wondering why Santigold had to go so soon. It’s enough to make me shout out to Brooklyn. And it’s enough to make me sit back down when she’s gone, and to come back again when she’s back…

Booji Baker here… throwing  my two cents in:

I wish I could add a lotta Kuti to La Femme Nikita’s Santi, but by the time Femi came on, I had a bottle and a half of champagne sloshing around in my belly and a cloud of smoke lingering around my general area. I don’t bring this up to take away from the man’s performance; I’m just saying that that African funk sounded particularly sweet in that canyon amphitheater. Unfortunately I wasn’t very tuned into his “message” due to outside influences (although I do vaguely recall him bring up the topic of premature ejaculation—I think he actually told the guys in the crowd not to cum too quick), but damn if those percussions, that brass and those basslines didn’t turn me into one big ball of frenetic energy from the moment he stormed the stage. I think I was bouncing around as much as his Nigerian dancers. I don’t shake my ass as good as them, though—they were doing it ways I didn’t even think was possible. Come to think of it, that might have something to do with the man’s bravado.

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