"Two songs in and it was clear: Dave and P came to party. There wasn't much in the way of segues or throwaway banter between tunes. Chromeo let the music speak for itself and went straight for the hipbone."
By the time Dave 1 and P-Thugg of Chromeo took to the stage at last night's Westword Music Showcase, it was about 8:40 p.m. The sun had set and everyone was on their second or third buzz...at least. It was the perfect time to dance to some electro funk.
Chromeo opened with "Don't Turn The Lights On," just the right song for just the right setting. The performance was full of energy, and Dave 1's vocals and guitar work was just sultry enough to get hips a-shakin'. Why was it such a poor choice for an opening song then? Because the mid-tempo moodiness of the jam strangely didn't feel like an opener -- a great song for the middle of a set, yes, but to open a set? Not so much.
Chromeo continued with "I'm Not Contagious," another cut from Business Casual. P-Thugg was on talk box duty: "Don't stop baby, let the rhythm take your body/Don't stop baby, let the music take control." Everyone gleefully obliged and threw down to an extended break not on the recorded version, with chugging synths and cow bell. The thumping beat was fresh and raw. Two songs in and it was clear: Dave and P came to party. There wasn't much in the way of segues or throwaway banter between tunes. Chromeo let the music speak for itself and went straight for the hipbone.
In the process, the duo proved it could hold its own as a two-man band. If you weren't paying attention, from the sounds that were coming off the stage, you'd swear Chromeo had at least six guys in tow. Never was this more apparent than on "Outta Sight" (think Prince's "Controversy" but updated to sound less '80s and more 2007) and "Waiting 4 U." "Hot Mess" saw the two likewise playing off each other with a double snare-and-cymbal dance break. The only thing missing was the Chromettes, Chromeo's sometimes backing vocalists, which typically add that extra oomph to the performance, beyond the drum break.
One of the set's highlights featured a slightly modified version of "Bonafied Lovin (Tough Guys)," which had Dave 1 riffing the hook from "Money For Nothing" by the Dire Straits. That was followed by "Momma's Boy," which P-Thugg introduced by playing the tune's two signature notes for a good twenty seconds before the other instruments kicked in. Unsurprisingly, "Momma's Boy" was the crowd favorite of the night, despite other standouts like "Fancy Footwork," "Night By Night," "Hot Mess" and "You're So Gangsta," driven by a funky groove and an even funkier saxophone-emulating synth solo.
Overall, beyond the odd choice of openers, the setlist worked against Chromeo somewhat in ways P-Thugg and Dave 1 didn't seem to care about during their performance. Why any band would put its most upbeat, danceable songs towards the middle of the set -- "Hot Mess" and "Bonafied Lovin" -- and not as the encore, or at least as the closing songs, is a little baffling.
The fact that Chromeo ended the show with "Needy Girl," which comes from an album that most fans seem to forget about (She's In Control), was made worse by the encore call-and-response performance of "Grow Up." If Chromeo is looking for a song to place in the middle of the set, the search has ended.
Personal Bias: "Hot Mess" is my favorite song to sing in the shower. Ever. By the Way: Strobe lights are nice when they don't take away from the actual show. At a couple points during Chromeo's set, the flicker of the strobes was a little overwhelming like staring at the sun -- you couldn't look at it for more than three seconds without hurting your eyes.
CHROMEO Westword Music Showcase Saturday, June 18, 2011 Denver, CO
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Don't Turn The Lights On I'm Not Contagious Outta Sight Tenderoni Call Me Up Hot Mess Waiting 4 U Bonafied Lovin (Tough Guys) You're So Gangsta Momma's Boy Night By Night Fancy Footwork Needy Girl Grow Up