Samsaya delivers dangerous pop to SF

Amabelle Ocampo/Staff

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“They say pop music can’t be dangerous. They say it can’t change the world. I wanna know — what the fuck do they know?”

Samsaya, a Indian-Norwegian artist, addresses the crowd at the Rickshaw Stop last Friday night. She’s met with whoops and wild applause, her enthusiasm matched only by the crowd’s.

It’s Samsaya’s and her band’s — composed of a Norwegian guitarist, French drummer and Brazilian bassist — first time in San Francisco. As she opens with “Bombay Calling” from her new album of the same name, it’s clear she’s loving every minute of it. Samsaya’s music is a very interesting blend, drawing musical influences from disco to R&B to rock and cultural influences from her Indian heritage and her Norwegian upbringing. Samsaya’s great range of influences lead to a varied musical style that’s at times synth-driven and at others guitar-led. Throughout it all, however, she keeps her infectious drum beats and raucous energy at the forefront. By the time she launches into the third song, it feels like the crowd would already do absolutely anything she asked of them.

One fan, in fact, already had — he traveled all the way from Brooklyn, where he saw her play already, to San Francisco to see her play again. After her set ends, she spills into the crowd, stopping to chat with fans and talk up the two other performers of the night, Ella Eyre and Anya Kvitka. On the street outside, she chats with her sister amid constant interruptions with requests for selfies from fans.

As she constantly moves from her sister to taking selfies with and talking to fans, it’s an interesting intersection of Samsaya the person and Samsaya the artist — the teenager who first realized her music could be more than just for her own enjoyment because this sister told her so and the woman who rocked the stage for the entire Rickshaw’s enjoyment tonight, rapping and singing and dancing along. As I watch her chat with fans and think back on how much fun everyone seemed to be having during her set, I’m reminded of something she said on stage earlier. Introducing a song off of Bombay Calling, she said, “This song is called ‘Beginning at the End’ — and this is the fucking beginning.” Out here with Samsaya tonight, it definitely feels like it is.


Contact Tyler Allen at [email protected].