Santigold Tourmate Amanda Blank Emerges From Friend’s Shadow At New York Show

By Daniela Capistrano, photos by Bashira Webb

It felt destined to be an uneventful, summer rain-drenched night this past Friday evening in the trendy Village section of Manhattan. But a few strokes before midnight, DJ Herbert Holler strongly advised the staff at Le Poisson Rouge to wrap up sound check, as a throng of Amanda Blank fans were waiting.

“People are outside getting wet, man” he gently prodded.

While the petite MC wrapped up interviews backstage, DJ Herbert quickly warmed up the crowd with his blend of ’80s top 40, hip-hop, house, rock, Motown and soca rhythms. The turnout was notably eclectic: A middle-aged man in a black suit gyrated on a small stage without much notice, while a preppy couple in Converse pogo’d nearby. Across the club, a group of ladies in almost identical jean skirts and flip flops mouthed lyrics to Naughty by Nature.

Though Santigold has been appearing on this tour (in support of Blank’s new album I Love You), this show belonged soley to Amanda, and the fans seemed eager to get a taste of her not as a supporting character or hype woman, but as the main act.

Backstage, Blank was a ball of energy, barely able to contain herself as she bounced on a leather armchair while describing her first foray as a solo artist.

“I didn’t want to [perform] with a lot of singers and dancers because I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t need it,” Blank explained.

Acknowledging that most people on this tour are “there to see Santi,” the emerging MC is also looking forward to testing herself.

Despite a propensity to casually drop f-bombs in every sentence and write lyrics about Lindsay Lohan’s private parts, the controversial songstress was still concerned about making her debut album something that her family could listen to.

“Thank god my dad is such a hippie,” she exclaimed. “[He's] a film professor and he apparently shows his students the ‘Loose’ video!”

The artist chalks up her family’s creative background as a major influence in her life. “Both of my parents are such sweet people … They’re like ‘Ok, she’s not up there naked on a stripper pole, she’s just being creative. And it’s not what we’d really want her to be but she’s doing her thing.’ I think they think they get it.”

Acknowledging that her debut album I Love You is a “poppy” departure from the grimier fare she’s done in collaboration with Spank Rock or her art-rock band Sweatheart, Amanda hopes that fans can embrace her as a singer and rapper, but she’s not too worried.

“I think there are a lot of people out there like me who grew up listening to Madonna and Michael Jackson, and then listened to Wu-Tang. They went to high school and listened to the Cure and Cat Power, [all that] white girl stuff.”

“Our generation is so mashed up. I’ve been to an ‘NSNYC concert, I was all gothed out seeing Hope Sandoval, being like ‘I love you Mazzy Star!’ That was my girl!”

With the packed crowd already coated in sweat, Blank ran to the stage in a short ruffled black dress and broke immediately into her mixtape favorite “Might Like You Better.” The crowd screamed along with the raunchy, Romeo Void-quoting lyrics: “I might like you better/if we slept together”

The MC, shrewdly noticing a few posturing hipsters standing still, dove into the crowd and danced around, bringing the energy in the room back to a suitable frenzy that she kept up throughout her satisfying set.

I Love You is out on Downtown Records July 14. For more tour dates across the country, visit her MySpace.