“Do you like my dance moves?” Santi White, aka Santigold, asked the crowd at Bowery Ballroom on Monday night on the eve of her second album release. “I try really hard. It's not easy.”
The soulful singer, in a gold-checkered tracksuit with white satin blouse collar, dove into the new tune Keeper, crooning the chorus, "while we sleep in America, our house is burning down, our house is burning down, down, down, down, down."
The business savvy songstress, returned to her fans after four years of silence, came at her audience with a powerful message and they were ready to listen. On the eve of May Day, also the release of her second album Master of My Make-Believe (Downtown/Atlantic), her songs ring true as dark pop with a worldly punk twist, burrowing deep into our souls and forcing modicums of truth into the ether that sorely need recognition.
As the lights went up on the chorus, the light exposed the sobered faces of all walks of life that stood as though they had been called to witness this event firsthand. The mash up of colors and cultures mimicked the styles, audible and otherwise, on stage.
Master is a generational record. It marks the time when we decided that crowd surfing at a show with turntables was okay; that one could care just as much about the NOTORIOUS B.I.G. as Nirvana (in fact both have martyr status in their own way). I confirmed this reality at South by Southwest in March, when walking down 6th Street in Austin, I was handed a promotional t-shirt silk screened with the cover of Nevermind, naked baby and all, not swimming towards the iconic dollar on a fish line, but towards a sick pair of BEATS by Dre headphones.
As she has been known to do Santi drew on stage a number of fans, in a rainbow of personalities and styles, to dance and sing along with her, warning to steer clear of her two dancers, as they’ve been “known to kick.” Also, punch, snarl and swagger with a touch of booty shaking – in the feminist, reclaiming-this-booty sense that defies exploitation. A throwback anti-2 Live Crew, if you will.
"My record comes out tomorrow,” she said softly with a big smile between songs. “It sure does take long; I'm so happy it's over.”