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I've been racking my brains trying to remember if I've ever made it through a whole show at the House of Blues without encountering some sort of hassle from the venue's security staff. Last night I was introduced to the "no bags" policy, which apparently only applies to men--I saw women inside with "purses" that easily could have accommodated my bag and all its contents with room left for a bucket of chicken.
I ended up missing Low vs Diamond and Plastic Little while I waited for a friend to show up so I could ditch my manpurse in her car. You'd think that the HoB, which has one of the largest and most aggressive security teams of any Chicago venue, could handle the threat posed by a Moleskine pad and a copy of a third-string Philip K. Dick novel, but apparently not.
Santogold's set was worth the trouble, though. I didn't expect her self-titled debut album to age well--it's attracted tons of hype and has been played half to death, so I figured I'd probably burn out on it pretty quick. But even after a hundred listens I still get happy every time I hear the opening line to "L.E.S. Artistes."
Considering the amount of live instrumentation on her record, I expected Santi White to show up with a full band, but she hit the stage with just a DJ and a matched pair of backup singer-dancers who came across like the S1Ws' round-the-way daughters. White was rocking a combo of loose-fitting pants and a button-up that, combined with her pageboy haircut and oversize glasses, made her look like Mary J. Blige made over by a pack of Florida retirees.
White has a pretty skimpy catalog, so there weren't many surprises on her set list--she mostly played material from her album, plus "Guns of Brooklyn" from her Top Ranking mix tape. But White's stage presence helped elevate her show above the usual CD sing-along. She has a goofy, shuffling gait and a way of holding her fingers out at shoulder level that only heightens the retired-MJB effect, and while her dancers kept straight faces even during their most overblown moves, she didn't even try to hide her smile. She's obviously having fun up there, and she still has the glow of someone who can't believe so many people showed up just to see her sing her songs. With any luck she won't lose it for a while.