Yaaaas, Queen Diva Big Freedia Came Back to Cleveland and It Was Glorious

Concert Review


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Big Freedia invited skilled-at-twerking audience members to join her on stage last night. She told them to turn their backs on the crowd. "I don't wanna see no faces," she said, before they all got to dancing. - PHOTO BY LAURA MORRISON
  • Photo by Laura Morrison
  • Big Freedia invited skilled-at-twerking audience members to join her on stage last night. She told them to turn their backs on the crowd. "I don't wanna see no faces," she said, before they all got to dancing.
Big Freedia's beloved dog died over the weekend. But still, last night, the queen of New Orleans bounce music came out on the Beachland Ballroom stage full of life and spirit. As she showed her Cleveland audience last night, there's nothing that a lot of booty shaking can't heal.

Hot on the heels of a partnership with Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (check out her delicious flavor Bouncing Beignets) and a brand new single with none other than Ke$ha, Big Freedia arrived with her crew of six dancers in matching blue choir robes rapping "I Got the Power." By the end of the number, the robes were cast aside revealing booty shorts, tight T-shirts and later, six-pack abs.

The crowd, nearly two-thirds full and from about every demographic, yelled and moved along to every beat, letting the wave of pure energy ride over them. Through the set, which miraculously started close to 10 p.m. (she's known for going on late in the night), Freedia pulled out fan favorites like "Explode" and "Rent" as well as her biggest hit from last year that featured Lizzo, "Karaoke." Her recent single, "Bawdy," which has lyrics that literally tell you to grab a fork and a knife and a plate and shake your body, was also a huge highlight of the evening.

As Big Freedia admitted to Scene last year, the show really is 90 percent about dance and 10 percent her on the microphone. And there wasn't much of a break between songs as the DJ kept the show rolling, one Freedia original after another.

How her dancers are able to twerk for minutes at a time without wiping out from exhaustion is its own miracle. Their choreography, between the high donkey kicks and arm whacks and head bangs and even a crazy ass split twerk move, was truly exceptional.

In this recent Azz Across America Tour, Big Freedia brought along Philidelphia's Low Cut Connie to open the show. While on paper, the rock band wouldn't seem like a natural fit, its wild live show was a force to be reckoned with. The piano-thumping frontman Adam Weiner, who came out in a Baker Mayfield-esque headband, worked plenty of his own booty shaking and piano-humping into his set.

With two guitars, bass, drums and two up-for-anything backup dancers, Low Cut Connie was every bit as loud and in your face as Big Freedia, albeit in a different musical style. At the very end of the night, Freedia even invited the band all out on stage again to do one number together, which turned into a call and response with the audience:

Big Freedia: "I got that gin in my system"
Crowd: "Somebody gonna be my victim."

It went on and on with more dancing and clapping and thanking the crowd for being so great for a Monday night.

Bounce music's stutter-stop electronic instrumentation and lyrics are repetitive, and some non-believers may claim simple. But Big Freedia uses her songs to help alleviate whatever else is going on in her fans' life. As it has for the past 20 years, and will continue to do in the future, Big Freedia's music will continue to set people free. And that's no simple feat at all.

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