Live Review, 6/22/12: THEESatisfaction Start a Party at the Independent
Friday, June 22, 2012
Better than: The dominant paradigm.
Watching THEESatisfaction on Friday at the Independent felt like peeking into the bedroom of best friends making hip-hop their way. On a stage bare except for two mics and a MacBook, Catherine Harris-White (Cat)'s deep vocals chased rapper Stasia Irons (Stas)'s quick flow, the two connected by choppy beats peppered with groovy funk and jazz. While perhaps too avant-garde at this point for a larger venue, the duo's presence alone carried it through this initial period of refining its live sound and staging.
THEESatisfaction has an introspective, neo-soul sound honed under mentorship and collaboration with Seattle hip-hop outfit Shabazz Palaces; together, they're helping the city's growing hip-hop scene gain attention over its grunge-y reputation.
Harris-White and Irons entered and left the stage with choreographed dance moves, two women on a journey and a laptop their only map. Playing songs off awE naturalL, their first full-length album and ode to Afro-futurist feminism, the duo compensated for its simple presentation by delivering a performance full of energy and vulnerability. It was perfectly coordinated, down to their outfits: Harris-White in a leopard-print skirt and high tops, Irons in a leopard-print shirt and low tops.
While complimenting one another's strengths like a romantic couple -- which they are -- Cat and Stas built something out of nothing. Their leap from silence to a dance party infected the entire crowd, a room of pierced and tattooed women wearing stonewash denim and tribal prints, along with a few sensitive-looking men in spectacles. Harris-White and Irons even kept the momentum as one of them would tend to the laptop and switch a track.
It'll be interesting to watch Harris-White and Irons evolve past the point of fiddling with a laptop and into new directions where they're free to improvise and explore. There's a reason Salt-N-Pepa had Spinderella, and THEESatisfaction should consider adding a DJ to accompany their performances so long as it doesn't compromise their distinct vision and sound. In these early days, though, it's worth witnessing THEESatisfaction deliver a performance that displays its two artists' talent in its most raw form.
Openers: Local band Le Vice got the dance party started with a fresh take on ska-influenced pop.
Personal Bias: Please replace Lana Del Rey with THEESatisfaction on your teenage daughter's iPod.
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