Lady Sovereign Says "F*ck You Swine Flu!" at Highline Ballroom

Nell Alk

Little Lady Sov returned to the states on May Day and spent Cinco De Mayo in New York. Manhattan fans could not have been more pleased, despite the fact that Highline Ballroom remained semi deserted the entire night. Even so, it was a welcome relief from recent sardine-esque experiences, providing a bit of breathing room and space to roam around. I know I was pumped perspiration remained at bay.

While the rear of the venue was spotty, stage-side proved quite the opposite, littered with underage girls and other representatives of Sov’s primary fan base. I had to combat chaperones just to take a few photos. Even with the abundance of teenagers accompanied by their ’rents, it was still a grown-up performance, rife with adult language -– and attitude.

Her maturity entails taking on a city crammed with critics, as her sophomore album Jigsaw was met with mixed if not mostly negative reviews. Says Sov, “I think a lot of people dismiss me before they’ve even had a chance to see me live, and that’s where people go wrong. Me as a performer, I’m fucking amazing. I give it my all. I completely go for it.” Unlike the last time she was in town, for her mid-April record release show at the Tribeca Grand Hotel, this time she brought her drummer, RJ, adding dimension and texture to her set. Like before, DJ Annalyze manned the turntables. “I haven’t been on the road with a band member for ages. That always adds a lot to my shows.”

The self-proclaimed midget MC flogged her guts out, approaching hoarse on some notes. She kidded about having the swine flu while pouring beer down the throats of those in the front row and at the end of “Love Me or Hate Me” screamed “Fuck you, Swine Flu!” She also bitched about Boston (the third stop on her month-long North American tour), explaining how she feared she might lose her voice while there and thus be unable to break it down once she reached the Big Apple. Evidently she places a premium on playing in the city that never sleeps. We’re comfortable with that.

What we’re not comfortable with, apparently, is singing along. The crowd deserves a big fat F in that department. Sov did what we said she’d do back on April 13th: shorty brought it! Unfortunately, the audience rarely mustered enough nuts to belt it out with her. Some songs we sang along, and certainly everyone was cheering with hands raised high, but when she’d point the mic at us, encouraging us to join in, on “Bang Bang” for instance, we dropped the ball. I felt mildly wounded on her behalf because this pixie puddle-jumper definitely deserves to get out of this shiz as much as she puts in, ya know? Before she skipped back to the stage for her encore, Annalyze scolded us and said we’d better make some [expletive] noise. I’m with her. A little effort, kids!

Also on the bill last night were Chicago-based Hollywood Holt and Chester French from, eek, Massachusetts. When Sov made her exit and the lights went up, Holt emerged from backstage and hung out for a while. With him came the one and only Million Dolla Mano, ginger-haired DJ Josh Madden (swoon) and the baby-faced darling DJ Artie K. All in all. a solid night. Catch this same lineup tonight at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. And do some scales before you go; vocal contribution is mandatory. Consider it a public warning…

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