This particular Tuesday night, the Echoplex was a frenzy of men in short-shorts and women in push-up bras, both wiggling their most prized and prominent features. There was only one way to join the gesticulating bodies that swelled the room: without inhibitions. That is to say, hopefully temporarily uninhibited via intellectual or material substance and ready to move. And so we sauntered into the dark and dank bar for a pre-Independence Day party with Zebra Katz and Big Freedia.
Accompanied by Njena Reddd Foxxx (we canâ€™t pronounce that either), Zebra Katz commanded the stage, full of uncharted charisma. The time finally came for â€śIma Read.â€ť The slow, heart-thrusting song features more than a few menacing phrases: â€śI'mma tell the whole school you a stupid bitch/Watch how fast we read that bitch/Watch my mouth, did you see that shit?/I called you a slut, what you gonna do bitch?â€ť Though it almost always immediately offends, the song was actually recorded over five years ago as part of Ojay Morgan's (Zebra Katz) senior thesis at the The New School for Liberal Arts, a tribute in part to the movie Paris is Burning. But you donâ€™t need to catch all the allusions when youâ€™re throbbing along to the bass. The end of the set left us crazed and thirsty for more.
It had to be just the right moment before Big Freedia and entourage could burst through the lights, clad in Red, White, and Blueâ€™s. The energy was dripping off foreheads and upper lips. People grabbed the nearest railing, hand, counter, or trashcan in order to assume a proper booty poppin' position. Freedia does this to men and women alike, her presence chewing up diversity and spitting out acceptance, crookedly into open arms.
It takes more than a little queerness to be at the forefront of a gender-bending, hip-hop genre from New Orleans. But Big Freedia remains the undisputed Queen Diva of Bounce music. She gains respect by way of her skillful sampling and harvests enthusiasm through her call-and-response performances. There is so much crowd interaction that we canâ€™t help but feel like a part of Freediaâ€™s show.
Both acts usually isolate listeners with their rude and crude lyricism; Freedia really gets your â€śazz everywhereâ€ť and Zebra Katz vows to â€śread that bitch.â€ť Neither performers leave room for the weak or the timid. With a go hard or go home attitude, we rose to the occasion and went harder than everyone.
Even though her sets are usually short lived, next time you hear Big Freedia is in town, it's worth it to grab your hot shorts and make your way to Freediaâ€™s stage.
Written By Alexis Sophie Kozak