From afar, THEESatisfaction appears to be a duo who might get fed up receiving more “cute” and “adorable” feedback than actual criticism. Being young, talented and gorgeous has its pitfalls, I suppose. All funny business aside, the group from Seattle performed a powerful and intimate set at Williamsburg’s Cameo Gallery last night and made a bold impression on the city that awaits their return.
They began precisely on time with a mixed crowd of Williamsburg’s notorious hipsters and gorgeous women with enough variations of natural hairstyles to create a salon’s advertising poster. Fans standing atop chairs for a clearer view of the stage only goes to show their enthusiasm and eagerness towards the performance.
Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White (or Stas and Cat, as they introduced themselves to me) made the stage their playground. A mature playground – perhaps one whose comfort is also met with brief choreography and a sense of freedom to discuss blackness, identity and bisexuality.
Cat’s afro is picked out to its extent – a side-profile view makes it look like the outline of the African continent. A simple red tank-top and a flowery dress that moves with her every juke embodies the timeless concept of “less is more.” With the venue’s lighting, Cat looks like she’s prepared to shoot an iconic 1960’s soul album cover. Stas’s red Converses and Seattle Sonic snapback swagger counterbalances Cat’s apparel and well-represents her persona as the performer who does more of the “rapping.” Their music, as well as their appearance hit you with the dichotomy between femininity and the typical masculine performance of hip-hop. With that said, their music is still difficult to define and perhaps that’s their intention.
In their performance of “On What It Means To Be Black,” off of their Transitions mixtape, their West Coast pronunciation of the letter R at the end of every word is admirable. “Earth winds and fires/elements of my surprisers…”
On the song “Pause,” Stas rhymes with a spoken-word poet’s panache and touch. This is a gift and a curse, though. Her intonations are on point, but some poems don’t translate well when transferred from an a cappella performance to a musical performance. The flow of her lyrics have a tendency to go over the strict meter of music.
Their Georgia Anne Muldrow-sampled “Do You Have The Time,” has that inescapable groove – where your body must move to complement the audio that your ears process. Black Power fists were up in the air during the performance of the perhaps Basquiat-inspired “Mourning SAMO.” One of Stas’s more on-point lyricism is expressed well here, as Cat’s soothing vocals are always a pleasure and perfect additive to the song that addresses the “same old shit.” The duo works like an on-ramp – the two have their own artistic sense of origin, but together their direction and music are stronger together.
The duo debuted a few songs off of their debut album, awE naturalE, which comes out March 27 on Seattle-based SubPop records. One song called “Sweet” – sounds a little bit like Parliament Funkadelic which provides for an easy 2-step. Another debuted track samples Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love” – which garnered the loudest response for the crowd, perhaps because of the depth of the sampled used.
Though they still sound underdeveloped THEESatisfaction shows clear signs of evolution, progress and dedication to their craft; you can tell that they love what they create. After thanking the crowd, the duo strolled offstage in a sorority-like manner, a signature portrayal of their solidarity with one another.
The crowd roared, asking for one more performance and they were granted their one wish with the song “QueenS.” The catchy chorus that orders “Whatever you do, don’t funk with my groove,” left a lasting impression on the crowd, as they couldn’t help but funk or groove to it. Dream Hampton is reportedly directing the music video for “QueenS,” and from the look of it, it will bring gorgeous visuals that represent the Queens that are THEESatisfaction.
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