Live: Estelle Grudgingly Panders to the Splendidly Dressed MOMA Masses


MOMA’s Party in the Garden
Tuesday, May 26

“I am so sick of singing this song,” Estelle moans, and the crowd erupts. This is how she offers “American Boy,” her big, critically beloved hit, and this is how we happily receive it. We, the fancily dressed crowd. The “cocktail attire” crowd. (We all define “cocktail attire” differently; I, personally, define it as “anything you probably shouldn’t play tackle football in,” and am thus catastrophically underdressed as usual.) We’re live at MOMA’s annual Sculpture Garden soiree, and despite the formal overtone and formalwear, everyone’s chirping along now to “American Boy,” which is fine with Estelle, because she’s tired of singing it.

Which is fine, because her loopy, rambling, cheerily profane stage banter is generally the highlight of her show. So after opening strong with the splendid reggae jam “Substitute Lover,” she goes straight into conspiratorial this-one’s-for-the-ladies mode, offering a little advice (“Do not break his shit. It’s a recession. They will charge you. Write a song instead.”) and then launching into a vengeful burner that goes “I hate you/I really hate you … Fuck you/Fuck you/Fuck you/Fuck you.” She invites several ladies (and one gawky dude) up onstage to dance in their finery. They do. And then, after a charming but somewhat random cover-song medley (vacillating wildly from classic soul to Coldplay’s “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face,” she announces she’s sick of her hit song, plays it anyway, and leaves. A mere half-hour of revelry, but “cocktail attire” usually means “free cocktails,” so no one minds.

Let me mention something here: “American Boy” began at the exact moment the Cavs-Magic game went into overtime. And I stayed. I stuck it out, on the off chance like Kanye West jumped out of a cake with Rihanna or something. I’m a fucking professional. We’re talking about a playoff game so compelling that down at the Highline Ballroom, ?uestlove wouldn’t even go onstage. Don’t ever say SOTC doesn’t sacrifice for you.

In 140 characters or less: Fuck Mo Williams.