Live

LIVE: Katy B, The Studio at Webster Hall, NYC

by Winston "Stone" Ford

Photo Credit: MTV

Sure we both have Best Buy and McDonalds and all watch Mad Men. But explaining the UK underground dance scene to the average American is like explaining the NFL to an Arsenal fan. It ain’t easy, and trust me, I’ve tried. Maybe that’s why it’s taken a longer time for UK’s underground to emerge on the mainstream here. Sure, pop and blue eyed soul have crossed over, but other than dubstep, hip-hop 2-step, broken beat and grime have been stuck in reverse while trying to make headway in The States. Those who have tried–from Dizzee Rascal to Ms. Dynamite have been left in the dust.Enter Katy B. The petite songstress was already pegged to bring lead the pirate radio culture in out of the shadows in her home country, but the question must be asked…is she the answer that the industry has been looking for to bridge the divide to The States? The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

I entered Webster Hall thinking that it would be the typical New York show–a bunch of posers and jaded industry types with their arms crossed trying to gauge the latest “next big thing” from overseas. Thankfully, The Studio at Webster Hall was filled with FANS–those who downloaded their album illegally as well as those who copped the US release on iTunes the day it dropped. The crowd ranged in age and makeup, from Black gay men, to older women to girls who look plucked from the Jersey Shore. I’m not joking when I say that this  was the most raucous crowd I’ve ever seen for a show in New York. I wandered into the middle of the floor expecting to be surrounded by zombies, yet the entire show was a mosh pit from start to finish.

And Katy brought it. It’s hard to recreate electronic sounds in live music (read:non club or festival) environment and not have it lose its soul. Thankfully, Katy’s live band, complete with horn section, brought her debut album On A Mission to life. For over and hour, she went through the entire album, and honestly the songs sound better, brighter, and even edgier live. It’s the best live interpretation of house and electronic music since Tortured Soul. Her renditions of tracks like “Perfect Stranger,” her debut “Louder,” and even the house-flavored “Hard to Get,” were transferred to the live setting perfectly.

Though Katy is a competent live performer, she’s still young and her stage presence still has kinks to be worked out. She even seemed quite perplexed at the men in the audience screaming “I love you Katy!” over and over. Said kinks and nerves will work itself out over time however.

But again, the question should be asked….can she play well in Peoria? Sure, David Guetta’s brand of Euro-trance has taken this country by storm, but could Katy’s mix of classic house and 2-step be the next big thing? The jury might still be out. Without any strong US radio singles on her debut it might be a tough road to break through in this country. But having that said, her label must be very pleased at the turnout and raucousness of the crowd at her first full New York gig. Something big is definitely happening here and we were all a witness last night.

Katy B’s debut On A Mission is available on the US iTunes store. today.