If Little Big Show has done anything consistently in its four years and fifteen shows, it's that it has sold out one incredibly stacked lineup after another at the Neptune and raised a ton of money for local youth-oriented arts programs. There's probably not a more Seattle way to do it either - to have Starbucks and KEXP partner up with STG to throw rock shows for charity. It's safe to say #15 went off without a hitch, raising over $20,000 to support the EMP's youth programs, including the phenomenal Youth Advisory Board. And of course, that couldn't have happened without the truly top notch bill for tonight's entertainment: the one and only Santigold, with help from rising vocal talent Kilo Kish and Seattle's next up hip-hop voice DoNormaal. Little Big Show #15, originally scheduled for April 9 and leading Santigold's tour in support of new album 99¢, tonight's rescheduled spectacle made for an memorable tour closer for Santigold with an overflowing party at the Neptune. Throwing parties, drinking coffee, and giving back to the community: Little Big Show is Seattle at its best.
As DJ El Toro so eloquently hyped before her set, you should really be paying attention to DoNormaal if you aren't already. Her album Jump or Die was one of the most refreshing local hip hop offerings you could listen to, with its creative lyricism and the vivid stories behind each song. and it marked a strong full-length entry point for the young singer, after a debut EP the year before. Tonight's performance at the Neptune in front of an increasingly full house was no doubt the biggest show that Christianne Karefa-Johnson has yet played. But carrying a weightless confidence and a stalwart personality, DoNormaal won the crowd over with ease. Karefa-Johnson moved through the best of her new album, including "LessEyeWanoo" and "Wide Awake", along with "Chocolate Delight", "50 Jasper Horses", and "Orange" all featuring an appearance from collaborator Raven Matthews. All in all, tonight's show was exactly the type of jumping point DoNormaal deserves for getting some more widespread attention for the work she's putting in with the city's hip-hop. She kicked the night off with a bang and easily earned her keep alongside the evening's other two stellar performances.
Before Kilo Kish took the stage, a man came running across the stage with a pile of papers in his hands, handing one or two or three to each member of the front row to pass backwards. Given the eclectic complexity of Lakisha Robinson's latest projection Reflections in Real Time, it's no surprise that even her live show comes in a multimedia format. Here, the audience gets a peak inside the spastic mind behind the music, complete with poetry, inside jokes, and visual art to accompany the performance. In contrast, Robinson's live presentation is sparse, built singularly on her person, draped head to toe in red, gliding across the stage like a ghost. It's an interesting mixture, certainly one that sets Kilo Kish apart from and above the features that have propelled her career forward thus far (Vince Staples, Childish Gambino, Chet Faker). Very much unlike both Vince Staples and Childish Gambino, Kilo Kish's live set doesn't try to replicate the story-driven narrative of her record. Instead, her best-of mixture of new and K+ alike allows her to show off her present tense in full form, present with the audience and present in her display of excellence. As Kilo Kish continues to dial in her craft, you'll want to keep an eye out.
Is there any better place to throw a party lampooning consumer culture than in at a rock show where all ticket sales go to local youth art programs than Santigold's show? Truly, the Neptune was ready for whatever Santigold threw at them, but whatever they could have expected was brought ten fold once Santi White took the stage. Her third LP, 99¢, is an incredible send up of consumerism and affluence, living in an egotistical wasteland, and never feeling satisfied. And thankfully for her live show continuity, it follows the art vs. product blues of her debut album, Santogold, as well as the western world identity crisis of Master of My Make Believe. Santi and her band donned zoot suits over workout gear, never quite filling out the shoulders they aspire to. Meanwhile, her dancers sat in inflatable chairs munching on snacks and watching the crowd before rising for a dance number using selfie sticks at batons. And that was all just the first song.
Every aspect of Santigold's 99¢ tour felt both carefully calculated and perfectly executed. From the shopping extravaganza of the backing visuals to the outfits made entirely of fake brands used in the second half, there wasn't a single inch of the stage that felt without purpose. For transitions between costume and set changes, fake infomercials played for products like 3-D selfie printers and shadow prevention (in the form of a deathly looking mask). By the time "I Can't Get Enough of Myself" rolled around, the audience had absolutely drunk the koolaid and bought into Santi's devilishly fun agenda. But in a solitary moment of seriousness, she broke from character for a dose of reality in telling of the fears she has for the world in which her daughter will grow up in if we fail to curb the waste of our consumerism and do something about global warming. It was a good reminder that there is plenty left to do to make our world a better place, but given some direction and a joyful leader like Santi White to guide us, there's no knowing where we'll end up.
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