Santigold’s set stuck out like a comic book hung at the Metropolitan Museum of Art would. She came out onstage wearing a scarlet felt cape with dollar bills, patches of grass and empty plastic bottles stuck on it. Her pro-environmental message felt relevant considering that the festival grounds have been criticized in the past for its lax ecological protections. This bold “bite the hand that feeds you” energy was an underlying thread throughout the whole performance. Everything was in bright Saturday morning cartoon colors, a surprisingly appropriate match for the pounding dancehall.
Santigold has left her alt-rock days behind for sunnier pastures. When she obliged the audience by performing her biggest hit, “Disparate Youth,” it felt awkward and out of place, like a goth wearing Lisa Frank clothing. She was dressed like a children’s entertainer (that is, once she took off her cape), in baby blue tights, green hair, and a red dress with a cartoonishly exaggerated silhouette. Her background dancers looked like they just played Wimbledon, sporting white athletic wear. The pictures cycling behind her on the big screen were pop art graffiti murals. If the cast of “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” became a traveling musical group, this is what the shows would look like.
The music had the brightness and color to match. Her simple backing band — a drummer and a DJ — kept the arrangements uncluttered and clear, all the better for swaying to the rhythm. In the most charming moment of the whole festival, Santigold brought up a few dozen people from the crowd to the stage. “I don’t want phones. Just dancing,” she commanded them and launched into a deep cut from her song, “Creator.” It was whimsical and artless, and for that, Santigold elevated what could’ve been an incomprehensible hodgepodge set into something chaotically beautiful.