Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “what’s the funkiest thing happening in my life right now?” If you don’t have an answer to the question, and even if you do, it should be Chromeo in Washington Park on Thursday night at Midpoint. Chromeo is the perfect convergence of the disco wave that taught our parents how to party in bellbottoms and the electronic twiddlings that keep our youth grooving in glowsticks. Dave 1 slinks across the stage with Jagger-esque charisma while P-Thugg whispers robot rhythms through a magical straw. Sounds fun, right? And we haven’t even gotten to their keyboards on sexy legs yet… bare with me.
Dave 1 and P-Thugg have been jamming together since the mid 90’s, making hip-hop beats after the sun set on an early band that brought them together. They were discovered and signed by Tiga to Turbo Recordings, releasing their debut album, She’s In Control, to moderate fanfare in 2004. After recording Un Joli Mix Pour Toi in 2005, a mix of french dance tunes under the Eskimo Belgium record label, and touring with Bloc Party early in 2007, the duo released Fancy Footwork, an auralgasmic collection of new-age lover’s funk that celebrated the dramas of righteous intentions and tumultuous realities. Tracks like Bonafide Lovin’ and Fancy Footwork were all about proving that you’re the right man for her job, with play-by-play commentaries on what one might need to do to sweep her off her feet and onto the dance floor/into your Firebird, or whatever it is that happens in retro conquests for love.
After a three-year gap, presumably occupying time with things like pondering the wonders of the culture or lecturing French classes at Bernard College (Dave 1 earned his Ph.D. in French Literature from Columbia University -- he’s a for real doctor), Chromeo released their third album, Business Casual. Now they’re back on the scene, with White Women driving their current tour and affecting dance everywhere they touch down. The tone of the tracks in White Women reflect a wiser, more mature perspective of the relationships they crooned about in Fancy Footwork and Business Casual, almost as if they’ve been a little jaded by what happened in them and are now in a position to play with the laughable circumstances that take our breath and make our blood boil when the honeymoon phase is over.
Jealous (I Ain’t With It) is a great example; it’s an honest tune about a dude that gets too wrapped up in his love game, gets jealous about feeling played, and how the disrespect is just too much for him to handle. Sexy Socialite is what happens next as that drama unfolds: an outward, open commentary on what that same guy might see around him when he goes out on the town, single again. Come Alive is the attractive beckoning of finding someone new that he’s interested in, opening up, and edging her to come experience life with him rather than just heading straight for the dance floor like they might have in Fancy Footwork. Their tale is amusing and engaging, but it’s perfected in their delivery: enter the keyboards on sexy legs.
I had the pleasure of seeing Chromeo at Bonnaroo this year, and it was far more than I bargained for. I strolled up to their set about five minutes late to a scene of Dave 1 standing behind what looked to be long, fake pinup legs, until I realized that it was only the coolest keyboard stand ever. Dave 1 addressed the crowd directly, like the ringleader of the funky circus that was about to unfold before us, introducing P-Thugg. P-Thugg is no ordinary thug; he may or may not be part robot thug. P-Thugg is a master of the talkbox, a filter for his voice and instruments that turn the world around him into party from behind his pair of legs. I couldn’t look away.
As far as showmanship and production value are concerned, these guys are masters of ceremony, building rapport with the crowd as they go and keeping the energy high throughout the show. I had never seen so many people break it down in public like that before, but there is something about their music that just creeps deep in the depths of your core and dances its way out. One thing is for sure, though: you owe it to yourself to come get down with such a funky ass party. This is the only concert where it will be socially acceptable to chicken strut with your hands on your hips, eating the feed of funk.
Bock bock, friends. Bock. Bock.