Sugar & Gold - A Sweet, Infectious Throwback

When Sugar & Gold waltzed onto the stage at The Blue Note last Friday evening, as the opening for Of Montreal, some in the crowd were unsure how to react.

The lead singer, Fati Beloved, clad in a hairnet and oversized red heart-shaped glasses began excitedly belting out songs reminiscent of the Scissor Sisters thrown over the top of a KC and the Sunshine Band track and mixed around a bit by someone who has done a wee bit too much LSD. He strummed guitar like an old funk professional, as backup singer Fatima Fleming waltzed around like she owned the stage. The stage was writhing with activity at all times. In short, watching this band perform was a trip.

Sugar & Gold made it seem impolite for members of the audience not to dance. Their electronic beats with a heavy bottom groove make rump-shaking feel like a natural impulse. Background vocalist Fleming stripped down to nothing but a beaded gold bikini and began to dance around the stage, shaking along with the heavy backbeat. Fleming, a part-time fashion designer, adds a feminine element to the otherwise all-male band that helps the music feel both complex and layered.

As things really started to heat up, there was a pause as the band stopped briefly to catch their breath.

After Beloved asked the crowd "Do you like psychedelic music?" he was met with a cavalcade of cheers. The band promptly erupted into a 10-minute jam session, leading into their hooky heavy, song "Workout." A riotous dance romp ensued as the crowd worked themselves into a sweat. The stage presence of the group demonstrated extreme interest in keeping the crowd enthralled as they waggled all over the place, dancing and singing at the top of their lungs.

Sugar & Gold, though relatively new to the music scene, have been making a big impression with their live performances. Their harmonious lyrics combine with a new wave of retro dance music and a funky visual platform to make a lasting impression. San Francisco based, the band has spent much of the past few years recording everywhere from New York to Los Angeles, building a fan base in between. They have already been acclaimed as San Francisco Magazine's "Best Local Dance Band," but it was their performance at South by Southwest of tracks off their latest album Crème that really made them known. While "Workout" -- their first single -- was successful, this album received rave reviews because of its capabilities to connect with the entire country. Recorded between live shows, each individual track is reminiscent of a different live experience the band had.

The band is known for its do-it-yourself approach to song writing, and this is conveyed in the overall sound of their first studio album. Sugar & Gold has developed a style all their own, using repetitive, circa 1970 lyrics, electronic and soul elements to create one of the most rhythmically pleasing albums heard in a while. This band does not make irony its goal, which sets it apart from similar sounding bands, such as Gravy Train. Sugar & Gold is first and foremost concerned with producing quality music and as evidenced by their performance, they have certainly succeeded.

The group is slated to begin work on their second live album with Antenna Farm this spring.