Santigold tonight at First Avenue
We're an open minded crew, always willing to entertain the minority opinion. But if you think Santigold is breathing the gold dust on her album cover, and not barfing it, your opinion is officially wrong.
It's an appropriate cover for her-- the material on her debut full length is a messy outpouring of obvious influences made slightly alien by the digestion process. If you're courageous enough to pick around, you'll find big hunks of Ric Ocasek and Peter Gabriel just ripe for the picking. But it's probably best to keep your distance, tap your toe, and not think too hard about what it all might have looked like before Santigold devoured it.
We've danced to "Lights Out" and found ourselves surprised by the sneaky emotional wallop some of her songs pack, despite masquerading as knock-off pop-rock. And we've drunkenly admitted that we'd get along great with Santigold, judging by the obvious similarities between our iTunes playlists and hers.
And yet, Santigold twists her formula with her own remoteness-- her voice, even when singing lead, seems to bob and weave amid all the synthy melody, as if she's a wallflower at her own dance party, quietly humming to herself while everyone she came with is getting wasted. Look through her promo photos, and you'd take her for a bombastic wild child, someone who leapt right off an American Apparel billboard, grabbed a mic, and was promptly snapped by a Vice Magazine rep for a big ol "Do" inclusion.
But there's much more nuance than that, and it'd be a pity to sell her short. It comes on as party music on first blush. And, even though this is the generation that has managed to turn Panda Bear into party music, there's yet more challenging depth here that isn't getting much press. They're complex songs, even if they're assembled from the flotsam of previous generations. They're feel songs, even if the nerves are buried under a thick synthetic flesh. They're phenomenally good songs, even if they slide right off the ear on first listen.
You've got the time. Give it a second spin on your way to First Avenue. You might just get more than you bargained for.
18+. 6:00 P.M. $22.00. With Amanda Blank, Trouble Andrew. First Avenue Main Room, 701 First Avenue North, Minneapolis; 612.338.8388.