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Big Freedia at the Turf Club, 2/2/13

Big Freedia at the Turf Club, 2/2/13
Photo by Erik Hess

Big Freedia
Turf Club, St. Paul
Saturday, February 2, 2013

By the time New Orleans' Queen Diva Big Freedia took the stage, the crowd seemed worlds away from a cool down. With all that sustained pleasure, it makes a bit of sense that the roomful of Freedia Freaks would eventually fizzle.

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Slideshow: Big Freedia at the Turf Club, 2/2/13
Big Freedia: My personality drew all these people to me

Steam began pouring out of the Turf Club's entryway at a pretty early point on Saturday. The front end was venting that sweaty dance biproduct like a manhole about half an hour into DJ Shannon Blowtorch's time -- well before bounce music high priestess Big Freedia began leading the room. DJ Shannon Blowtorch seemed well tapped in to Freedia's ass-shaking tenants considering the perpetual break-beat punches crammed behind nü classics like "Ni**as in Paris."
Big Freedia at the Turf Club, 2/2/13


Big Freedia at the Turf Club, 2/2/13
Photos by Erik Hess

That's not to say it wasn't a thrill to get to the come down. Freedia's three-piece hype team made good on the Turf Club's curbside advertisement that promised "Ass Everywhere!!" Throughout the hour, ass managed to gyrate atop speaker stacks. Legs stretched to the house lights above. Booties, both amateur and Freedia-sponsored alike, were reeling across the room like yoyos. So it comes at a bit of a letdown that the fluidity between Freedia and her DJ never really mirrored the succinct rhythm that wall-to-wall butt cheeks achieved. 


The group brought out their fan favorites early. "Gin in My System" and "Rock Around the Clock" popped out within the first three tracks. And while Freedia controlled the atmosphere of an entire room dedicated to her call-and-response, she could never really connect with her DJ's timing. You could, however, perpetually count on a Jamaican air horn followed by a bomb-drop sample to indicate the end of a track. 
Big Freedia at the Turf Club, 2/2/13

Big Freedia at the Turf Club, 2/2/13
Photos by Erik Hess

But these imperfections are hard to dwell on. The wafting stank that filled all corners of the club kind of reiterated that this whole thing is supposed to be a messier affair. And what Freedia does best is making that experience a shared one. Guys and gals took to the stage song after song, many shedding layers. Freedia's comfort with this closeness is a joy. It's a sensual multitasking of sorts. At one point, she offered her hand for a kiss to an older gentleman all while her head was turned to chat up a beefcakier male dancer. So good at giving herself, in fact, that people seemed to begin feeling satisfied before the meal was over. 


 

There could be an inherent flaw in bounce music's ability to sustain a traditional headlining set time. Because it's a young genre committed to somewhat stringent parameters, the music can feel like an assault of a singular rhythm. So what happens is people become less committed to devoting their attention to Freedia as a performer but more so to Freedia as a very entertaining DJ. The crowd began to thin out toward cigarette breaks after the set rounded the hour mark. As Freedia continues to tackle bigger crowds, this seems like the glaring dichotomy that will have to be synthesized. But if the biggest obstacle in a roadshow surrounds the crowds inability to shake ass past an hour, Freedia should be able to work out the kinks. Or at least twerk them out. 
Big Freedia at the Turf Club, 2/2/13
Photo by Erik Hess

Critics Bias: Have been looking forward to seeing Big Freedia since bounce music began popping up on party playlists over the past year or so. I was promised "Ass Everywhere!" and "Ass Everywhere!!" I was given. 

The Crowd: Like a Greyhound bus from Williamsburg broke down outside the club on its way to Portland. Seriously though, it was a pretty sexy crowd. And many were dressed in wonderfully unemployable manner. 

Random Notebook Dump:
So the girls have purple bras too. That's the kind of calculated that sells out shows. 

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