Fall performance strikes a high note
Published: Monday, October 8, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 01:10
“We want music!” repeatedly chanted an audience of over 100 students, huddled together in the front of the Shapiro Gym stage at the Gosman Sports and Convocation Center on Saturday Sept. 29. The continuously growing crowd that would eventually amass to approximately 850 people was restless.
Every fall, Student Events hosts a fall concert, which, this semester, featured the groovy, dance-rooted hip-hop of rapper Theophilus London and Santigold’s experimental, almost unclassifiable music.
The crowd went crazy when Theophilus London, accompanied by a full band, took the stage, hands waving, smiling widely. The rapper displayed an exuberant stage persona, jumping from side to side in his leather jacket, flat-rimmed baseball cap and circular-lensed sunglasses, dragging his microphone and stand, embodying Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. London received significant crowd participation on two infectuously catchy hits, “Last Name London,” and “Love is Real” off his album, Timez Are Weird These Days. London is by no means as widely known as other rappers such as Jay-Z, Kanye West or even A$AP Rocky and Childish Gambino, so it was surprising to see that a significant portion of the crowd did know at least the choruses of these two tunes. Everyone was jumping and singing, matching London’s energy. A concert will only be as fun as the performer is having, and this was certainly the case for Theophilus London’s set.
Santi “Santigold” White is known throughout the music business for her absolute eclectic eccentricity in all her projects, videos, songs and performances. It is difficult to even categorize Santigold’s music, which has rock, hip-hop, electronic, reggae, indie and soul influences. Her set at Brandeis’ Fall Concert could not have more perfectly exemplified her crazy, unique style.
Soon after Theophilus departed from the stage, two dancers in matching white-and-green dresses and white glasses with black lenses, a drummer and guitarist/keyboardist in square white hats, white short-shorts and bizarre tops marched up the staircase. They subtly found their respective posts while the audience members screamed as Santigold walked onto stage, decked out in a black-and-gold dress that would later be abandoned for a bright green one.
Santigold kicked off the show, fittingly, with the ominous “GO!,” the opener off her most recent release, 2012’s Master of My Make Believe, which then flowed confidently into her smash “L.E.S. Artistes” from her 2008 eponymous debut. Other highlights of the show included “Creator,” “The Keepers,” “Disparate Youth” and her cover of Major Lazer’s “Hold the Line,” on which she is featured.
Visually, Santigold’s performance was incredible. She and her band changed outfits several times to fit the persona of each song. The two matching dancers paraded around the stage in perfect synchronization waving umbrellas, jumping, running, dancing and waving their hands. Even more visually shocking than the dancers was the giant horse costume that made several appearances, giving the show not only a weird but also a somewhat humorous vibe. At the same time, however, the Philadelphian singer-songwriter showed her personable and right-minded side when she invited the entire front of the audience onto the stage and proceeded to promote voting and free speech. Some students found her statements tacky and unnecessary, though it is always nice to see artists directly voicing their opinions outside of their music.
Brandeis is certainly known to have politically and artsy-minded creative students, so bringing less mainstream artists such as Santigold and Theophilus London was a greater success here than it might have been elsewhere. Nearly a quarter of the undergraduate population purchased a ticket to the event and most of them had been talking about it for weeks prior.
Overall, Santigold’s music is quite odd and is really an acquired taste that I wonder how many attendants have. Her work finds listeners divided into groups—those that tolerate her eccentricity and those that find themselves simply overwhelmed. The only issue that was agreed upon unanimously was the poor sound quality of the venue. It was quite difficult to hear Theophilus London in particular. Ultimately, his show became visual more than anything else, whereas Santigold’s more eerie music actually works in an echoing venue. Craig Rothenberg ’16 said, “The acoustics in the gym weren’t great, so it was difficult to hear either act well, but I still really enjoyed the concert.” To add onto Rothenberg’s assessment, the show was a massive party, so the less-than-perfect aural experience did not subtract greatly from the overall enjoyability, leaving Alden Reiman ’16 with one word: “phenomenal.”