|« Pitchfork Announces Headliners for 2013 Festival||Preview: Angela James' Country Music Has a Chicago Coolness @ The Hideout 2/7 »|
Review Sun Feb 03 2013
On Friday, while the rest of Chicago was a buzz over the bumping and grinding that would be going down at Pitchfork Festival this summer, I was a little more concerned with the abundant bumpin' that would be happening at the Empty Bottle on that cold, snowy night.
Here's what I knew about Big Freedia upon walking in: She's actually a he -- real name Freddie Ross. She's the biggest face in New Orleans' "bounce music." The genre is best explained during her NPR interview but, essentially, it's a bass heavy, booty-bouncing-inducing, lyrically minimal, quick tempo-ed version of rap. I also, realized that i would probably be making a fool of myself dancing along -- but new experiences are better when embraced.
Following a shirtless, thong-wearing, "blood punch"-drinking opening act that might have been a better fit at spots like Neo or Berlin, Big Freedia, her DJ and her troupe of dancers took the stage to one of her most popular tracks, 'Ya'll Get Back Now."
The sold-out crowd of Humboldt Park hipsters erupted. Booties were bouncing everywhere. Everywhere.
For someone who describes herself as the "queen diva," Freedia was actually a very humble and charming presence on stage, thanking the crowd for making it out to the show and supporting bounce music on multiple occasions. While she and her three dancers were clearly the bounce pros -- at times doing handstands against the walls shaking their butts all the while -- it didn't stop them from inviting plenty of crowd members up on stage to bump along to the beats.
From what I gleaned, bounce music is more of an experience than an option for casual listening. It's unlikely anyone will ever critically praise an artist with choruses like "ass everywhere/ass, ass everywhere." However, it's not hard at all to understand why Freedia and bounce music are becoming something of a trending topic in the music scene: Her shows are an absolute blast. The music is far from complex, but it is infectious.
It was nearly impossible not to spend the entirety of the show on the balls of my feet modestly dancing along. The fact along that Freedia and her dancers (one male, two female) are able to do this every night without going into cardiac arrest is a feat in itself. The set culminated with a hilariously placed up-tempo remix of Keyshia Cole's "Trust and Believe" and Freedia left the Bottle's stage and its audience a big, sweaty, smiling mess.