PHOTOS / RECAP: Big Freedia / Don’t Talk to the Cops / Radjaw @ Neumos, Seattle 2/5/13

“This is the first national bounce tour ever,” Big Freedia (pronounced “Freeda”) declared at Neumos on Tuesday night. Outside the South, the New Orleans native is the best known “sissy” bounce artist, referring to the overtly queer themes of her raps. The genre is characterized by intense bass beats, repetitive percussion elements, and catchy phrases sung at high volume. The video for “Y’all Get Back Now” features a giant Freedia stomping through the Big Easy throwing beats at people and dancing with fans in the streets. She’s a powerhouse live, commanding a prophet-like fascination from the crowd. At the first note of the beat, before she even took the stage, the crowd went buck wild. Dancing to bounce consists of a variety of forms of “twerkin’,” where the dancer bends their knees and shakes their booty as much as humanly possible. This can include fully bending over with one’s head between one’s knees, or laying flat on the ground and moving only the hips and buttocks. Freedia’s two “Diva” dancers flanked her, churning out “twerks”, and a male dancer wore a shirt that read, “Stay. Positive. Bro. Life is good.”

Freedia’s beats incorporated recognizable hooks from such artists as The Jackson 5, Beyonce, and Destiny’s Child, but she made edits here and there. During “Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child, when the lyrics usually say, “Girl, I didn’t know you could get down like that,” Freedia’s version challenged, “Bitch I didn’t know you could hate like that.” The words grew even more outrageous, as Freedia proudly sang, “I’m a dick eater, eat a lot of meat.” Some of her lyrical choices are overwhelming, but from a dancing perspective, Freedia brings the party. She pulled people up on stage to shake it, and even asked, “Where the Seattle boys at?” prompting a slew of young men to climb up. One group was so zealous on stage that they accidentally pushed Freedia into the crowd. “Now THAT is a first! Seattle you crazy!” she laughed while regaining composure. This is the power of Big Freedia: no matter who you are, she’ll unleash your crazy, sexy side.

Opening the night were Seattle locals Radjaw and Don’t Talk to the Cops. The former spun records with an 80’s and 90’s feel, upbeat and conducive to bounce style dancing. Don’t Talk to the Cops are a DJ and two MCs, namely Larry Mizell Jr. (local KEXP and Stranger personality), djblesOne, and emecks. Mizell recently returned from a tour with Shabazz Palaces, and the crowd was eager to have them back. When blesOne said, “clap along Seattle,” everyone started clapping their own rhythm before the beat had even started. The MCs indulge the crowd with synchronized dances, incessant beats, and catchy raps. “Guess I’m Strange” is a proud banger for the weird-kid hip hop so quintessential to Seattle’s scene, and “Laos” asks listeners to respect emecks’ South-Asian culture. These Seattle partiers got everyone pumped up for the debauchery and mayhem that is Big Freedia, and all went home happy and thoroughly worn out.