Hailing from the other LA – Louisiana, that is – New Orleans’ own Big Freedia the Queen Diva, also known as The Dick Eater you Besta Believe Her, held court this past Friday at the Regent Theatre in Downtown L.A. with jaws dropping moves and asses flopping well into the warm and windy night. The bounce legend played to an adoring crowd in her so-called second home with an impressively rowdy ensemble of backup dancers assembled in tow.
The New Orleans-based rapper Boyfriend opened the evening with her bawdy and ridiculous brand of “Rap Cabaret”. Her hair up in curlers throughout the entire set, Boyfriend warmed over an initially hesitant audience through a series of well-orchestrated and ultimately charming theatrics: multiple costume changes, goodies thrown into the audience, an on-stage armpit shave, etc. Her own posse of performers– amongst them a deconstructive drag queen and a brassy burlesque dancer – weaved their way on stage during her songs and often ended up stealing the show outright. My gay ass was wowed by Boyfriend’s salacious showmanship and commitment to getting everyone in a silly and nasty place for the Queen Diva.
Freedia took the stage not long after Boyfriend took off, and everyone in the crowd was clearly rearing to go. I’d listened to Big Freedia’s 2014 record Just Be Free as well as a few select jingles from her recent Christmas release A Very Big Freedia Christmazz before, but I was still unprepared for the extent to which the Queen Diva’s music comes alive in; it is truly made for a live setting. Listening to “N.O. Bounce” on a walk to the grocery store is sufficient, sure, but hearing it shouted directly from Freedia’s mouth as people shake and sweat and cackle all around, and on top of, you is another thing entirely. As the Queen Diva makes overwhelmingly clear, she wants everyone at any of her shows to have a truly good time – and she enforces that ideal, trust. A mere point of her long pink fingernails at anybody in the audience was an instant command to start moving or ELSE. Freedia absolutely owned to room with her presence despite only actually singing or rapping for about half of the actual show time; her DJ and dancers take center stage during the rest. Athletic, astounding and altogether awesome in the purest sense of the word, Freedia’s four dancers bounced and twerked and death-dropped like none other. At one point, one of the dancers got on to a railing of the balcony and broke into a p-popping split much to the delight of the VIP’s up top.
Big Freedia’s exuberant personality was the total selling point of the concert for me. Being in that crowd made it unimaginably galling to even consider the concept of standing still and not dancing, how dare you disappoint her!!! I spent the large majority of my 8 AM work shift the next morning, head pounding and ears still ringing, watching Freedia interview clips and bits from her reality show on Fuse network, so won over by the performer who willed a packed crowd to move late into the night. The Queen Diva left me bouncing in both mind and body, and I am better because of it. If you ever have the chance to see Big Freedia – go! Please! For your own sake.
DYLAN DELUCA, DJ
THE BANANA MOONSHINE RADIO HOUR, MONDAYS 3:00 A.M-4:00 A.M
PHOTOS BY WILLIAM WILDMER, BILLBOARD