Guardian contributor Ari Messer checked out Lady Sovereign at the Mezzanine on Jan. 8. Here's his review of the show:
Love her or hate her - doesn't she look adorable?
Around seventh or eighth grade I made the transition from oversized Stussy sweatshirts and hypercolor basketball T-shirts to even bigger local punk band tees -- I remember a burgundy Fury 66 shirt that reached to my knees. So imagine my surprise when, after DJ Frampster adroitly warmed, cooled, and dancehalled the packed, couple-heavy crowd (did one partner drag the other?) at the Mezzanine on Monday, Lady Sovereign, “officially the biggest midget in the game” according to herself, poked out from behind the backdrop curtain displaying her silhouette in grand scale, and proudly flashed her sparkling clean white Stussy hoodie. Not only was it practically the same Stussy from my past, but it kind of fit. The 21-year-old Londoner and rising grit-rap grime star immediately busted out one of her tastemaking ditties, “Ch’Ching.”
Like her tune “Hoodie,” “Ch’Ching” was seemingly designed specifically for viral MySpace distribution. Something about the white girl sporting white, plus the remarkable number of Brit dialects and breaks in Frampster’s over half-hour set, which got the crowd moving in language-as-dance-partner waves, established the unexpected mood for the evening: playfulness.
The beats hit hard, including live, backbeat-heavy drums and live, funky, driven bass. Sovereign - her words even muddier and dirtier than those on her records - kept things interesting by fluctuating between lewdness and glee, flowing in tones somewhere between classic dancehall styling and KRS-One (if you can imagine him as a practically adolescent female Londoner, which maybe you can). Flows like pissed-off nursery rhymes gave way to a killer cover of the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant” (recorded originally for TV show The OC), replete with DJ scratching and communal “oi”s.
Local comedy troupe Killing My Lobster tried to get Sovereign to lyrically battle a troupe member dressed as a giant donut. They had passed out nicely printed papers with pictures of jelly donuts on them. As instructed, we held up these fliers and chanted “Fight Jelly Donut” after the fourth song, but Sovereign, after insulting various “grannies,” wiped her ass with one of the fliers and threw it to the stage.
Andrew Bancroft, a.k.a., MC Jelly Donut, was performing for a gathering of friends outside the Mezzanine on our way out, which made us hungry for donuts at the donut shop on the corner of Jessie and Fifth. But we decided against it when we saw a tall, off-kilter probably homeless man frothing at the mouth and making a scene in the shop.
I stopped to give another guy some change. Then as we were walking to the BART, that same frothing dude busted out of the shop, approached us from behind, muttering and wide-eyed, and started kicking me violently in the back of my left knee. My date and I didn’t know what to do. I yelled terrible things, and he yelled incomprehensible things, and we tried to run away, but my leg wasn’t really moving like it was supposed to. We were stuck in Lady Sovereign’s exclamatory “Love Me or Hate Me”: “If you love me, then thank you! / If you hate me, then fuck you!”
Bloody crazy, mate, but a damn good show.
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