The leaves on the trees at Central Park SummerStage we just starting to fall, leaving the branches bare and the view of the stage a bit less obstructed. The air was crisp enough for the crowd at Chromeo to dance wildly without too much unseemly perspiration, and for Big Freedia to pull out twerk moves without sweating out her weave. It was the last Summerstage of the year, and the Kings of Funk met the Queen of Bounce for a gleeful send-off to the summer of 2014.
The show was sold out, but people were still trickling into the park when Big Freedia took the stage. Known as a pioneer in the New Orleans Bounce scene, any Big Freedia show is a gender-bending, twerk-tastic onslaught of a freed sexuality. Her dancers were the same group I’ve seen at previous shows – three boys and two girls in matching trapped out black and white outfits. They moved as one, but each with their own style, complimenting Freedia as she rapped “Rock Around the Clock” and “Ass Everywhere”. Freedia whipped her trademark long hair as the sun started to set, with booty popping out of boy shorts all around her. It was clear her dancers were not just twerk-starts, but athletes with some serious skills.
Behold the evidence on this Instagram:
After Freedia bounced away, the ubiquitous keyboards with legs, as seen on Chromeo’s “Fancy Footwork” album, were placed on stage. The crowd, filled with mostly professional 20-somethings, took this moment to jump into the beer line. The audience was ready for the alt-funk stylings of Chromeo, who have built a cult following with their highly danceable songs and rockstar persons. By the time Dave 1 and P-Funk took their spots, the audience was into it. From their first song to their last, almost everyone was dancing. Dave 1 roamed the stage like a leather-clad jackal, while the tanned girls in the crowd yelped and rocked out.
The duo’s charisma was more than matched by their technical execution. The sound was perfect – every track sounded exact like the album. During “Shoulder,” Dave invited every girl to go into festival mode. “I wanna see every girl up in the air!” he cried, and every girl promptly hopped on their bae’s back. My view was blocked, but this didn’t matter. I still felt the funky energy.
By the final song – their hit “Jealous” – I was inside an episode of “white people gone wild”. Chromeo is essentially music for music nerds that just happens to be infectiously dance-y. Maybe it was the beer, or the fall air, but there was a vibe just as wild as a rave, but more mature and centered. The crowd was Chromeo were distinctly grown up, or who never went too deeply into plur territory. The essence of crooning soul and dirty pop was there, but it stayed smooth. Just like a Chromeo song, the show was consistently fun, and kept the funky vibes going from beginning to end.