Take note, Santa Barbarians. Last week, a sold-out crowd broke down barriers at Earl Warren Showgrounds as fans packed the front of the stage ahead of a performance from YG and DJ Mustard. The rapper/producer duo hails from Los Angeles and is some of the talent behind hip-hop’s sudden West Coast resurgence, thanks to tracks like “My N***a” and “Who Do You Love?”
The show was an unmitigated success. Sure, the sound wasn’t great (as YG noted to his manager a few times throughout the set, though his phrasing wasn’t quite as polite). And the use of plastic fencing without any kind of support made the eventual stage rush inevitable. But none of that stopped the thousands in attendance from getting the most out of their night. Opening sets from Santa Barbara’s own Fresh and DJ Mustard were more than enough to prepare the crowd for headliner YG. DJ Mustard’s set in particular was striking, if only because it served as a reminder that he’s produced a chunk of the Billboard Hot 100 (including Tyga’s “Rack City”).
Opening with the very same “Momma Speech Intro” featured on the record, YG’s performance was a rather straightforward reflection of the tone of his debut full-length, My Krazy Life, which has sold more than 140,000 copies since its March release.
Similarly notable was last Thursday’s concert at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, where a capacity crowd turned out for Norway’s Lemaitre, an up-and-coming dance-pop group that had opened for Justice in Paris just two nights prior. The appeal and reach of Lemaitre’s sincere, crooning electro is larger and wider than ever before, especially in the first summer of the post-“Get Lucky” world.
In the past, a Norwegian dance group might have been a bit of a hard sell in Santa Barbara. And the same could easily be said of a hip-hop show large enough to fill the Earl Warren. But times are changing, and, thankfully, a handful of young talent bookers and promoters have forced folks to take notice.
Recently, sold-out shows at improvised venues like Earl Warren and Casa de la Raza have proved that Santa Barbara is full of people who are willing to endure things like moshing at equestrian centers for the sake of seeing artists that they care about. Might it be nice to have one of these shows in a theater? Of course. But apparently no one is willing to wait for area venues to figure out how much money (and good will) they’re leaving on the table.