When I got home from this show last night, my boyfriend asked me how it was.
“Pretty great…as in, really fucking great,” I replied.
“Does that mean you’re going to sit down and blog your little heart out about it?” he wanted to know.
“Hmm… y-” I started before realizing that what made the show “pretty great…as in, really fucking great” wasn’t the sort of thing one can normally blog about. Or at least not in a way that would convince others of the show’s pretty/really fucking greatness. But I wasn’t sure why I couldn’t write about it, or even to express it in some other way; it was just a feeling. An idea. So I decided to sleep on it and attack it in the morning.
I’ve figured it out, I think, since. This was quite possibly the first show I went to that was so enjoyable solely because I had so much fucking fun at it. This is not to belittle any of the musicians who performed last night; after all, it’s because of them that I was even having all of this fun in the first place. But I’ve never been to an electro-pop show, at least not that I can recall, so I’m far more used to deriving enjoyment from watching the technical talent of whoever’s on stage than I am with frenetically dancing and jumping around like an asylum escapee. Last night’s show was my introduction to that feeling, to the world of ecstatic, day-glo abandon that is an electro concert. That being understood:
Telephoned kicked off the night, a duo comprised of Sammy Bananas on laptop, knobs, noise-making, etc. duties and the glamorous Maggie Horn on vocals. Their beat-driven, sample-laden music takes one of two forms: 1) they take a popular song from mainstream radio and record their own song/lyrics on top of it and 2) they take a popular song from mainstream radio and sing another popular song over it (they covered both “Runaway” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and “Friday I’m in Love” by The Cure this way, backing both with Top 40 songs I couldn’t name but know I’ve heard in clubs or on the radio).
This is pretty interesting to behold in the live setting, especially with Bananas’s hamfisted puns and Horn’s continuous gyrations in a skin-tight black dress. Their first song begged us to join in, being mostly comprised as it was of the lyrics “I wanna see you dance!” At first, the crowd was wary, but by the time Telephoned treated us to their super sexy reworking of “Rude Boy,” most of them seemed to be feeling it. I can’t imagine this band opening for anyone other than Chromeo, but in the context of what we were to see later that night, it was a great way to kick off the evening. Especially at the end of their set, when Horn and Bananas stood at attention and began singing about “dinosaurs with guns.”
Neon Indian came on next, but not before a seemingly endless session of fiddling with their equipment to make sure everything was perfect on some kind of level that a non-musician like me can barely wrap her head around. The band was standing in their place for about five minutes before they actually started playing, but when the music finally happened, they didn’t disappoint. There was nothing different about their set from when I last saw them at the House of Blues when they opened for Massive Attack, but it was still bucketloads of fun, and unlike at Massive Attack, the crowd actually seemed to be enjoying it.
I’m chalking this up to the fact that your average Chromeo fan is a few shades less serious than your Massive Attack fan, especially when it comes to music. Sure, I understand why people might be off-put by the fact that live, they look like a ragtag collection of music memes (there’s the epitome-of-the-’70s guitarist, the drummer who looks like he should be in a hardcore band, the pixie hipster girl on keyboards, and of course Alan Palomo with his terminally-eye-shrouding ‘fro) and that their music sounds much the same. But I love my cheese, especially the cheese of bygone decades, the cheese so beloved and embraced by chillwave, and I suspect many other Chromeo fans of having a similar relationship with it. So, of course we’re going to bounce up and down to “Deadbeat Summer” and jam the fuck out to “Ephemeral Artery.” That’s what those songs are for!
Chromeo took the stage sometime around 9:45 and they fucking threw down. That phrase always makes me think of death metal, but I don’t know how else to encapsulate how thoroughly they nailed it in a two-word phrase like that. At any rate, Dave-1 and P-Thugg were welcomed by an impressive throng of fans screaming their token “Chro-MEEE-oh, whooaaaa-oh” introduction before properly kicking things off with a new track from their forthcoming album, Business Casual. The crowd continued to flip out for the duration of the night; it had been three years since Chromeo stopped by last, and everyone was determined to be as ridiculously enthusiastic and pumped-up as possible about it.
I was a little surprised to see that it was just Dave and P playing. Having never seen them before, I thought they may have conscripted a live drummer or a guitarist, but they didn’t. Instead, they just shocked the shit out of me with how much sound – and how complete of a sound, too – two guys can deliver when they put their minds to it. They were hilarious, too, their deliberately corny back-and-forth stage chatter was made ten times funnier than that of any other band from the presence of P’s vocoder tube alone. The best thing said all night by far and away was Dave’s description of what bonuses you’ll get if you pre-order Business Casual: “P will come by your house and cook you dinner, I’ll give you French lessons, it’ll be great!”
As far as the actual songs played go, this is a band who knows how to please their crowd to no end. They loaded their setlist with fan favorites like “Tenderoni” and “You’re So Gangsta,” and before ripping into “Night by Night,” their new single, they gave us a brief tutorial in how to sing along with the chorus. The highlight of the night for me was “Fancy Footwork,” an awesome enough song on record that transformed into this stomping, dance-or-die insanity live. Also fantastic were “Bonafide Lovin’,” “Call Me Up,” and “Needy Girl,” all just as bouncy and ruthlessly head-sticking as they are on record. I was too busy flailing my limbs and being shoved into the barrier (yep, I was right up front and a little right of center) to take note of a proper setlist, but someone else in the blogosphere will get to it sooner or later.
Speaking of flailing and shoving, I generally dance and move around far more than the people I share crowds with at concerts, but this was not the case last night at all. The first four or so rows back from the stage, which was about all I could see, were brimming with ass-shakers, bouncers, gyraters – y’know, the whole effin’ nine yards. It was fantastic to be enveloped in such unquestioning, un-self-conscious fun. No “kids with their arms folded tight” were at the House of Blues yesterday, as far as I could see, and it was a beautiful thing to behold.
All in all, it was a kickass evening, undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable concert experiences I’ve ever had. Every band delivered, everyone was having copious amounts of fun, and being right up front prevented the at-times craptacular sound at the House of Blues from sucking at all. Maybe it’s a little melodramatic to say this, but the show even sort of reaffirmed my faith in music fandom. Even though the Internet is filled with cynics and trolls, even though the hipster clubs are filled with people who would sooner die than so much as bob their heads, there’s still some places where it’s not even a question of the music mattering or not: the music simply is. So why not dance to it?