Brooklyn’s SAY SHE SHE Sizzles & Gets Political At Sold-Out Hopmonk In Novato, CA [REVIEW]

photo - Sean S. Reiter


With a glistening mirrorball twirling atop a bustling dancefloor, Brooklyn-based phenoms SAY SHE SHE sauntered into the sleepy North Bay town of Novato on a February Tuesday, touring in support of magnificent sophomore LP Silver. Finishing up a West Coast run with a string of sold-out shows, on this evening SAY SHE SHE made even more believers with copious earworm originals and their intoxicating brew of “discodelic”.

An electrifying seven-piece combo that turns back the clock four decades with authenticity and panache, SAY SHE SHE is fronted by three vocalists: Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik, and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Two women from New York and one from London, each singer classically-trained, yet deeply-steeped in stylistic traditions native to 60s and 70s R&B, Soul, and Funk. According to band origin lore, the SAY SHE SHE story begins with one singer hearing the melodious sounds of another seeping through her Lower East Side apartment floorboards. 

Their moniker a cheeky nod to Nile Rogers and Chic, onstage the women emanate a grown n’ sexy aesthetic that enraptures an audience with potent immediacy. Further solidifying their bonafides, the trifecta’s sensual, operatic harmonics are ably assisted by a quartet of groove merchants sourced from SoCal funk institution ORGONE. SAY SHE SHE has dropped two fantastic records over the past couple of years, debut plate Prism put the girls on the map, followed by 2023’s sensational Silver, which was critically-lauded around the world in short order.

Despite the fact that Funk’s apex is considered to be the 70’s, and Soul’s peak a decade before that, SAY SHE SHE’s vibe would thump and thrive maybe most in the post-disco, post-punk, first-term Reagan 80’s. In addition to decadent disco-funk and provocative pop, this rapturous revival can at times recall the likes of Tom Tom Club, Blondie, or ESG, forwarding dubby, smart, subversively psychedelic numbers, tracing musical genetics to both the UK and NYC’s New Wave booms. 

In the live element, SAY SHE SHE uncorks buoyant bops that wash over a sea of bodies, mellifluous melodies that oscillate and penetrate, messages that light a flame within, all of it deftly powered by the backing band’s infectious grooves. 



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A spirited opening set from Gitkin kicked off the dance; this new project from Pimps of Joytime leader Brian J explores world beat styles. SAY SHE SHE took their places on a cramped Hopmonk stage shortly after 9pm, the musicians barely squeezing onto the space as Brown, Malik, and Cunningham lined up at the front edge of the stage in appropriately-steezy couture. 

“Reeling”, Silver’s opening salvo, booted down the front door and swiftly announced their arrival. The orgasmic cut is a call to action, an incantation from Mother Earth to fight against Dystopian late-stage capitalism. Funky? Check. Sexy? Check. Glamour? Check. And political? Oh hell yea.

Yet it would be the trio’s stunning stage presence, juxtaposed with kaleidoscopic three-part harmonies, that would coalesce to win our hearts – and the night – pretty much from jumpstreet.

A tribute to the global dancefloor, “C’est Si Bon”(Silver) wore Studio 54 on it’s lapel, an irresistible jam that runs all the SAY SHE SHE bases: from London to Paris, LA to New York City, shimmying through the swingin’ 70’s, cocaine 80’s, and even a sliver of the Mitsubishi 90’s too. A pair of cuts from debut album Prism followed suit, including the arresting, sultry “Fortune Teller”, and the title track’s dreamy, throwback soul powered by a bulbous, dub bassline that would make Tina Weymouth blush. 

At one point about two-thirds through the performance, the singers departed the stage briefly so the boys could get it in a little. ORGONE’s Sergio Rios (guitar), Dan Hastie (keys), Sam Halterman (drums) and Dale Jennings (bass) dug in with a quickness, reminding those in attendance that these four greasy groove mechanics wield a tremendous chemistry. An accomplished producer and engineer, Rios recorded and mixed Silver at his now-legendary Killion Sound studio based in North Hollywood. (This week of California concerts was Sam’s first run back with the band since he took a paternity leave from performing live in 2023.)


Before long, Nya, Piya, and Sabrina returned to the stage and commandeered every last beating heart in the spot. Other show highlights included the righteously-defiant “Norma” (Silver), a bold protest anthem created in the wake of the overturning of Roe vs. Wade decision in 2022. With a hook inspired by The Flower Duet, the principalities continued with Prism’s debut single “Forget Me Not”, an ode to NYC’s activist-exhibitionists Guerilla Girls, and a call for equality in the workplace. “Questions” (Silver) was another joint that made a profound statement in sound, syrupy harmonies in support of women’s liberation, indicting the patriarchy, unpacking power dynamics, and probing the nature of oppression.

But it wasn’t all fire, brimstone, and punk ethos either; as when the squad rounded third they ratched up the high times and swaggering vibes more than a tad. A new brand of clubland lullaby, “Don’t You Dare Stop” (Silver) was brimming with lusty, amorous yearning. “Astral Plane” (Silver), quite possibly their biggest “hit” thus far, pined for a cosmic rendezvous, delivering a bombastic blast of flirtatious funk. The Bollywood-influenced “Bleeding Heart” (Silver) chased folkloric love around the globe, a parallelogram equal parts Punjabi, psychedelics, and Linda Peracs.

To close out their libidinous, rebellious, action-packed ninety-minute set, SAY SHE SHE welcomed Gitkin guitarist Brian J. to the stage to join them for a grand finale. Reaching back three decades, the now-octet mined the annals of the Jackson Sisters for a euphoric romp through their classic “I Believe In Miracles”; initially a minor-hit upon its 1973 release, the track was reborn as a generation-defining smash in the UK’s late 80’s rare-groove revolution. As Brian J. shredded his axe, and Hastie laid down some nasty clavinet, Nya, Piya, and Sabrina left us slack-jawed and drooling yet again, channeling the celestial harmonies of siren sisters who laid a foundation upon which they strut today. A salient, super-charged selection to close out a monumentally-funky good time at the Hopmonk Novato.

Look out world, SAY SHE SHE is comin’ in hot! As a matter of fact, seems like they’ve already arrived in style.

words: B.Getz

SAY SHE SHE – setlist 2/6/24 – Hopmonk Tavern, Novato,CA

Reeling, C’est Si Bon, Fortune Teller, I’m Not Ready, Prism, Never Say Never, Trouble, Echo In The Chamber, Slippery People, Blow My Mind, Norma, Don’t You Dare Stop, Instrumental jam, Astral Plane, Questions, Forget Me Not, Bleeding Heart

encore – I Believe in Miracles (w/Brian J. of Gitkin)


SAY SHE SHE recently profiled by esteemed journalist Anthony Mason on CBS Mornings.