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Review Sun Feb 03 2013

A First Person Account of Big Freedia at the Empty Bottle, 2/1

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.

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Callie / February 4, 2013 5:36 PM

I understand you're not trying to cause offense, but saying Big Freedia is "actually a he" is offensive. Whether or not she is genetically male or otherwise, she goes by female pronouns and is "actually" a she. (Which you get right everywhere else--great!) I hope in the future the author (and editors) can avoid this unintentional slur to trans* people.

Katie / February 4, 2013 10:08 PM

Callie, I appreciate your comment. I can see how you might find my wording offensive -- which was absolutely not my intent. The only reason I felt it was significant in noting at all is that some first time listeners might be confused as to whether or not the performer they're listening to is, in fact, Freedia given her masculine voice. I agree with you in that gender isn't all in biological makeup :) I hope that you'll forgive any offense you might have taken and keep coming back to Gapers Block!

hair loss specialist / February 20, 2013 4:24 AM

It was certainly interesting for me to read the blog an article and this one is well written I seldom appreciate. Kudos to the writer and thanks for sharing

Alex / March 17, 2013 8:57 PM


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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
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Live Fix Blog
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Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
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Theft Liable to Prosecution
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UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
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