Song Of The Day 7/21/2013: Big Freedia - "Y'all Get Back Now"

I went to The Postal Service show at Key Arena the other night. This is the electronic supergroup put together by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie, Jimmy Tamborello aka Dntel, and Jenny Lewis. They put out one album, Give Up, in 2003 that was a sleeper hit. Now they're doing a 10th anniversary reunion tour. If you've heard The Postal Service you know their basic program: Gibbard's introspectively plainspoken voice, singing about romantic fracture and emotional transubstantiation, gently emotive material that's framed by Dntel's electronic colorings. It's lyrical, transportive dance music. I like it okay.

However, when I walked into the Key Arena to take my seat, the opening act was onstage. There was a DJ, a rapper, and three dancing girls. The dancers had their backs -- well, to be honest, their asses -- to the audience, and they were maniacally twerking. Most of the time the rapper was repeating certain two- or three-syllable phrases for entire stanzas at a time, and the DJ was playing extremely fast beats. But mainly it was the twerking girls that commanded attention.

They must have played for around a half hour. And the end of which, the rapper turned to the audience and said, "Y'ALL READY FOR THE MOTHERFUCKIN' POSTAL SERVICE???"

Yes, all things considered, and judging from my pulse rate, projected attention level and state of mind, I conducted a cursory review of my personal inventory and ascertained that I was, indeed, ready for the motherfuckin' Postal Service.

I'm not saying the performance was bad, at all. I'm not saying anything like that. I'm just saying it was a strange way to set up a songwriter whose M.O. is decidedly cerebral and classically sentimental, and would probably be the last person in the world to have a party in his apartment, much less a party with twerking going on. I expect turtlenecks on Ben Gibbard's opening band.

My friend Dana, also at the show, posted on my Facebook feed: "This is the most incongruous opening band I've ever seen. And I saw the Pixies open for Def Leppard."

Who we saw, I got as I was leaving the venue, was Big Freedia (pronounced "free-dah"). While researching in a manner that made me feel exactly like an out-of-touch dad checking out his teenage kid's music by visiting NPR's website, I discovered that she was the "Queen Diva" of New Orleans bounce music. And, for that matter, the bounce music scene is where twerking originated, so it's got some added cultural relevance as well. Yesterday the Times ran a review of the Postal Service show by Andrew Matson*, which focused on the apparent disconnect between bootyshaking Big Freedia and snowglobe-shaking Ben Gibbard. Gibbard, true to his gentlemanly nature, said he booked Big Freedia because, simply, he loved her music.

In preparing for next weekend's Capitol Hill Block Party, which she's playing, I can across a single by Big Freedia called "Booty-Whop." I decided to listen to it away from the visuals to see what I thought of it.

And, uh, you know what -- I kinda liked it. Ben was right.

So here's another video she did a few years ago. It's funny. But also let it be known that I am at that perilously vulnerable point in my music journalism career where I'm terribly afraid I'm going to start looking like that staid, elder statesman type writer who looks awkward when writing about new sensations sweeping the nation's youth. I get the feeling all the hip kids are going to see me at the Block Party next weekend and wonder if I'm a narc. Or a music critic. A music critic or a narc. (Sigh) Where's my blazer with the elbow pads?

Incidentally, if you'd like to try your hand at Big Freedia's Guitar Hero-esque "Booty Battle" app, you may do so now.

*(I also reviewed the show for MSN Music; the article will appear later this week)

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