men + big freedia

yes, the irony is not lost on me that the biggest tag in my tag cloud is “men.” but well, by now you know that i’m talking about the awesome electronic band that contains jd samson (formerly of le tigre). if you read my blog frequently, you’re probably tired of hearing me talk about them. but i’m just such a huge fan. i can’t help myself.

my blurry camera-phone pic from right in front of the stage

so though i am a lazy blogger and it is now several days since men graced a stage here in new orleans at the republic on saturday night… i am still going to go ahead and tell you that it was one of the best live shows i’ve seen in a long time. which maybe isn’t saying much cuz i hardly ever go to shows anymore, but seriously, the energy in that room was electric. and just downright happy. it was really good for my soul to feel the love and exuberance of all those dancing, smiling queers (and a few non-queers).

but let me back up. it was an early show, due to the venue double-booking events for the evening. i called ahead just to be sure and was told the men show had to wrap up by 11:30pm because that’s when doors opened for the late show, whatever it was. (all i know is that the guys who were lining up outside to get in when i was leaving looked like rejects from a jersey shore casting call.)

the last time i had been inside the republic was back in 2006, post-katrina, when girl gang productions had their last show. i pretty much did that show alone, as my two partners in ggp were still caught up in their own post-k goings-on. i was living in kentucky but had come down to spend some time in the city, doing markets and working on this show that featured lezzies on x, nicky click and scream club (such a killer line-up!). sadly, we didn’t get much of a crowd, though those who were there appreciated it. it made me think of that show when i walked in and saw only a handful of people inside the cavernous space.

when i arrived, the australian 80s-synth-throwback band romy was onstage playing. though there wasn’t much of a crowd, almost all of the cushy vinyl sofas were taken. there were a few familiar faces, though i didn’t notice anyone i was particularly friends with at first until i saw my friend jordan. so i sat chatting with him for a while. it was nice to catch up with him for a bit. eventually more women i knew started filtering in, as we were all by this time waiting for big freedia to arrive. dj rusty lazer was onstage killing time via his laptop, but true to diva form, freedia was late.

big freedia w/her fly girls, dj rusty lazer in the background

but damn, she was worth the wait. in a whirlwind of activity, she took the stage with her two fly girls, the beats started booming and stuttering, and it was on. new orleans sissy bounce in the house, y’all. and the mostly white, largely lesbian and fag audience took the bait and threw down. they were twerkin‘ it all over the dance floor. (and yes, the music still wants to give me a seizure, but i was certainly enjoying it in that moment, particularly with all the delightful visual imagery to go with it.)

fifteen, maybe twenty, minutes later and it was done. everyone had worked up a sweat. freedia done did her job of warming up the crowd. literally.

men then took the stage quickly since freedia’s tardiness had eaten up some of their set time. their opening number had them wearing some ridiculous contraption that formed a triangle (each of them wearing a helmet that was attached to the other band member’s helmet by pvc or something)… as seen in the blurry cell phone shot above. but that quickly went away and the dancing commenced. jd was in great form. i wish i had written down the set list but now several days later, i can’t remember. (bad reviewer!)

but the highlight of the set for me is the song that i’ve been calling the new queer anthem, “who am i to be so free.” jd unraveled a large banner tacked up on the wall behind them with the words of the title, and the entire audience jumped up and down, throwing fists in the air, screaming the refrain “who am i?” it was awesome.

i didn’t really notice how long the set went, but it was promptly at 11:30 that it ended. all in all, it was a great night. i got to see a lot of folks i haven’t seen in a long time. i got to reconnect to that feeling of loving live music, and of being part of an audience, being a fan. and i got to dance.

i need to do that more often.

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