There’s a genuine feeling of excitement that arises when you watch some undiscovered band in a small dingy little nightclub, a band that you know will eventually one day make it really, really, big. It’s a feeling of gratitude and thankfulness because you know that at that precise moment you’re sharing with the artist, it’s also an opportunity that may never present itself again. Well, last night at the Rickshaw Stop was one of those moments, when Eliot Sumner — Sting’s daughter — confidently took the stage and introduced herself to the U.S.
When Sumner first climbed onto the stage in a patched up tight black pair of pants, you could clearly see that she’s not only inherited her father’s perfect cheekbones and intense gaze, but also his amazing voice and songwriting talent. It’s hard to categorize her music, but if one had to it’d be a combination of 80s punk goth rock with some early U2 with just enough guitar and synth leads to ensure the songs ring in your head long after the night is gone. Last night, in what may have likely been an homage to her father, she was hammering away on his old beat up vintage Fender bass guitar — the treasured Fender Precision Bass that was used by Sting during his treasured time with The Police.
And just like The Police, her band that was comprised of some very solid players, sounded tight yet creative in their interpretation of songs that Sumner had composed. The show was part of a current North American tour that comes shortly after releasing a series of tracks that KCRW has hinted sound a little like The Police. Whether they do or don’t is simply irrelevant at this point since her sound is entirely her own. Sumner – whose mother is actress Trudie Styler – started releasing albums back in 2010 under the name I Blame Coco. She has since decided to make music under her real name, which her parents came up with in honor of poet T.S. Eliot. And for any of you that may think Sumner is just some rich rockstar kid that was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Sting said last year in an interview with Daily Mail that his six children would not be inheriting any money from him. “They have to work,” he said. “All my kids know that and they rarely ask me for anything, which I really respect and appreciate. Obviously, if they were in trouble I would help them, but I’ve never really had to do that. They have the work ethic that makes them want to succeed on their own merit.”
Last night, that work ethic paid off when she appeared onstage sporting her long golden brown locks down and with a Billy Idol lip curl started to sing to a packed audience of San Franciscans that were all too eager to ask her what she thought of their city. “I love San Francisco,” she retorted. Riding on the merits of her own talent and hard work and taking command of the stage like a true band leader is all this kid knows, and her performance was for the ages.
Although, she professes that this sense of self-confidence was not something that she had three years ago, when the 25 year old found herself at a creative crossroads. There was a time she had adopted the nickname Coco, and by 17 had begun recording under the band name I Blame Coco. She was most successful when she issued an electro-pop duet with Robin entitled “Caesar”. Unfortunately, the experience left her feeling unsatisfied, since towards the end she felt like she could not connect with the music. She told Examiner that “I Blame Coco was much more commercially accessible and at the time that was cool because I was touring a lot and that was great,” she said. “But I didn’t really connect with the music that much. And also I was very young and I think I’ve matured a lot over the years, and made this album.”
At the Rickshaw Stop that authenticity came through in spades as she played flawlessly from one song to the next and declared her arrival to a country that had already adopted her father’s music some 30 years ago. The crowd was warm and in high spirits chanting “We love you Eliot!” The quiet and at times shy singer took the compliments modestly, but most of all thanked the audience for “helping me to get over my hangover.”