Pop duo Karmin and singer Santigold performed for a packed-in crowd of cool kids last night at the Hard Rock Café in New York City as part of Rolling Stone‘s Private Concert Series. The show opened with Garnier Fructis Women Who Rock flip cover contest winners Karmin, followed by an extensive performance by Santigold. Karmin frontwoman Amy Heidemann beat out artists including Rita Ora and Delta Rae in a fan-voted contest for the coveted cover.
Nick Noonan, Karmin’s male half, hit the stage first, shouting an emphatic “Rolling Stone!” to the audience before stationing himself at the keyboards. Heidemann followed and the two opened with the torch single “Boom,” a “middle finger to the haters” anthem. Decked in a crop-top and black spandex pants, Heidemann gyrated through tracks like “Hello,” “Told Ya So” and “I’m Just Sayin” before slap-boxing the crowd with Karmin’s cover of Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now” (which has amassed almost 75 million YouTube views).
“I gotta find my inner Busta Rhymes,” Heidemann said as she ripped through the rapper’s syllable-flipping verse. She explained to the crowd that Karmin only heard of Brown’s single because Lil Wayne mentioned it in his January 2011 Rolling Stone cover story. “That song changed our lives, and now we’re on the cover of Rolling Stone,” Heidemann said, all smiles.
Noonan had a moment to show off his chops on the solo power ballad “Coming Up Strong,” then Heidemann returned with “Too Many Fish,” the Michael Jackson-dedicated “Walking On the Moon,” “Crash Your Party” and their Platinum closer “Brokenhearted.” At random intervals, Noonan would hold up his fiancée’s Rolling Stone cover as a proud reminder of why they were there that evening. “This is a huge milestone for our career,” Heidemann said. “So thank you guys.”
After a brief intermission, the red curtain lifted once more to reveal Santigold, who emerged in a lacy dress and X-ray glasses, and walked over gold coins spread onstage by her backup dancers. Supported by her backing band decked out in all-white (including rubber wigs), Santigold zipped through a selection of tracks, opening with “Go” from her latest, Master of My Make-Believe.
Her eyes widened as fans nailed the lyrics on “Lights Out”; “Say Aha,” from her breakthrough 2008 LP; and “Get It Up,” a collaboration with M.I.A. and the Very Best. During “Creator,” she invited a drunken crowd to come dance with her onstage. She even remixed her own “Shove It” with Jay-Z’s version of “Brooklyn (Go Hard)” before closing with the thunderous “Big Mouth.”
Both Karmin and Santigold had good reason to celebrate. “I didn’t know who was gonna be here tonight to be honest,” Santi explained to the crowd, “but you guys know the music! It’s dope.”