Saturday With Santogold, Sam Flores and Esoteric

I’m excited to report that most folks who came to check Santogold at The Paradise last Saturday did not think she was M.I.A. The former might have been aggressive in her allegations that those who compare the two are racist (though she also might have been correct), but at this juncture it’s a phenomenon of mistaken identity that she can stop harping on.

Before I recap the sold out retro fest at the Paradise, though, I’ll drag you through the latter part of Saturday – the part after I left the Art Institute’s ‘Zine Fair and MASSCANN’S Hemp Fest. At about six o’clock I arrived out near Boston University for the Underground Snowboards block party – an event that’s mere existence was remarkable considering the million dollar homes (presumably not owned by b-boys and hip-hop fans) down the street.

While renowned graf artists Sam Flores, Alex Pardee and N8 Van Dyke blasted the walls outside Underground with a legal barrage of aerosol-empowered colors, a mess of kids skated the makeshift course set up between police barricades. There was even a snowboard ramp – with actual snow! Boom bap was in effect as well; for those of us who wear fitted hats it’s always sweet to see evidence that our city is at least somewhat tolerant of fringe activities.

I’m sure they wouldn’t have admitted such, but it appeared that even the cops on duty had fun. As 7L, Esoteric, Top Choice Clique, Raydar Ellis and Will C. unrolled the aural entertainment, there was not a single reported noise violation. The show even killed when the power cut for a few minutes, leaving Eso to deliver some a capella comedy: “Have you read Adriana Lima’s blog?” he asked the crowd. “I’m not on some let’s dis the supermodel shit, but she’s not too bright.”

The Dise was at least one-third filled when the first act – L.A. rockers Low vs. Diamond – stepped on stage. I can’t give a fair assessment of their set, though, for two reasons: one is that I went to high school with the band’s lead singer Lucas Field, and the other is that I’m incapable of writing about music that far outside the hip-hop realm. What I can report, however, is that dozens of fans were there specifically to see Low vs. Diamond; afterwards I had to move out of the way at least five times so that girls could take pictures with my homeboy.

Despite the club stinking like dinosaur turds all night, Santogold’s fiesta was a proper summer send-off, fall welcoming, or whatever fans were looking for. Even college kids were on their best behavior; probably because the types of girls who like Santo are more impressed with dudes who dance than meatballs who sport fight.

Of course, there were some North Shore steaks on hand as well (Santo does lace dance music after all); maybe it’s that lame Converse ad with Pharrell and Julian Casablancas, but she effectively lures cats from most corners of the taste spectrum. For every rhinestone Affliction shirt there were two Abercrombie hoodies; and for every three white kids there were…bad example.  

It’s entertaining watching people go wild over what they hardly get; in my opinion we’re all still trying to figure out and categorize Santogold (the black Blondie?). Right now all we really know is that she moves our bones; and for anyone who came out Saturday, it’s also clear that her pipes are naturally electric enough to ring as ridiculous up close as they do on record.

Extra props to Santo’s dancers, too, and not just because they were piping hot. As much as I deplore choreography (I know – it’s a lame pet peeve) their ostentatious grooves and outfits fulfilled the hipster requirements that are necessary to prevail on the contemporary dance-hop scene and allowed Santo to lay into some deep vocals.

When I first saw Santo rock at South by Southwest this past March, you bet your ass I thought she was M.I.A. I’d been drinking for four straight days at that point – plus she was performing at a jam for Mad Decent. In the time since she’s not only become so big that she can tell fans how high to jump; she can also tell them what kind of vintage kicks they should jump in. It's only a matter of time before people start mistaking M.I.A. for her.      

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