THEESatisfaction’s Stas and Cat implore us to “turn off your swag andcheck your bag” at Madame Jojo’s, populated by the great and the good,checking out this slinky duo who are surfing the zeitgeist right now;having come to attention as part of the sprawling ShabazzPalaces collective, THEESatisfaction have released their mostrecent album awE naturalE to considerable acclaim. And rightly so – anundoubted feelgood hip hop album, the afro futurism is coated in agorgeously warm production, each song a mere slip of a thing, aseductive, fleeting fragment of raps, choruses and synchronisedgrooves.
Despite having the clout of Sub Pop behind them, it is rathersurprising to see the girls sing to a backing track. While this maymake their performance somewhat easier, it makes for a curiously oddlive delivery. The sexy beats and breathy backing vocals were all inplace but the girls offered nary an acknowledgement of theirsurroundings, preferring to immerse themselves in insouciant cool andbarely choreographed dancing. This may have been in keeping with thegirls awe natural charms but at times, the delivery was so nonchalantas to be almost-not-there.
Nevertheless, the dovetailing of rapping and singing between Stas andCat is often wonderful. The short nature of the songs ensures the setis raced through by default but QueenS sounds majestic, Deeperrollicks along with its motorik groove intact, the vocal interplay atonce intimidating and enchanting, teeming with urban sass.
What works against THEESatisfaction tonight is not simply their usageof backing tracks; it’s the fact that they were supported by theapocalyptic rap of Scotland’s Young Fathers whom bolsteredtheir live set with the addition of (albeit minimal) live drums.Propelling their sound with a kinetic kick, THEESatisfaction soundedpositively anaemic in comparison. It was difficult not to come awaydisappointed after every song failing to erupt into life.
However, it’s difficult to imagine the girls becoming overtlyconcerned at backing track revelations. The duo carry themselves withsuch a natural confidence it ultimately overrides any claims offaux-soul. While the set primarily contained cuts from awE naturalE,earlier tracks such as Bisexual – from 2009’s Snow Motion – and Icingare the very least the equal of their more recent brethren. “Mymelanin is relevant” assert the girls on Deeper, and while thecertainly aspire to empowerment, a little bit more flesh on to theirlive performances and no one will need any assurance as to girlsmotives and talents.