Ass Everywhere: Big Freedia Brings Big Booty Bounce to Eclectic
Following a studious week of hard chairs cutting off buttock circulation, Wesleyan students flocked to Eclectic on Thursday to get the blood flowing again. After a crushing postponement and what felt like decades of waiting, Big Freedia was here, ready to bless us all with her stripped-down, hyped-up New Orleans “bounce” music. Those who have seen the incredible videos for Freedia’s singles “Y’all Get Back Now” and “Excuse” know that her high-octane party anthems combine samples and callbacks to induce as much spine-dislocating twerk as possible. Rejecting the heteronormativity of most music about butts, Freedia proves that whatever your gender, race, class, or sign, there’s some thunder in your bum ready to get rolling.
The night started off with a set from Khalif Diouf ’11, aka LE1F, who primed the audience for high-energy fun with his trademark “gayngster” rap music. Already an accomplished figure in New York’s underground rap scene, LE1F has collaborated with fellow alumns Das Racist and just released a mixtape of his own, “Dark York,” on their Greedhead label. His perfect flow and ear for grimy and poppy electronic beats made his one of the best rap shows I’ve seen in recent memory.
With practically no wait between acts, Big Freedia took the stage and got people shaking. Fans swarmed on top of the stage, both to get closer to this demagogue of derriere and to give everyone else a better look at their behinds. Freedia had impeccable stage presence for someone often blocked from view, and she launched right into the frenzy of her most famous track, “Y’all Get Back Now.” After about 10 minutes of butt-bouncing bliss, however, Eclectic began to have some issues with music playback. As techs scrambled to reconnect the cords, Freedia guided us through the painful withdrawal with some keenly selected callbacks: “Ass everywhere! Ass everywhere!” she would shout, and in the musty black darkness, the crowd held on.
When the power returned, the concert was more hyped than ever. Booties popped, grinded, juked, and clapped. Newly invigorated, people pushed on through their limp legs and cheek friction and moved as though if their asses slowed down they’d blow up the bus in “Speed.” Our rumps had minds of their own, a hiney-hive-mind, and if we didn’t move them to the beat, they did the work for us. Freedia’s two big singles sound exactly the same, but the rest of her songs had enough infectious chants and variety in tempo to keep the night from feeling repetitive.
Towards the end of the night, Big Freedia brought the attendees of her free “bounce” workshop onstage to display what they had learned. As you can imagine, most of the people already onstage didn’t want to get off, so the resulting hot, turbulent sea of ass served as the night’s climax. Instead of Big Freedia, all anyone could see was a wall of flesh, a mirror to our own jiggling, bobbling, jerking bottoms. We saw butts and the butts stared back; our bodies and minds swirled together in an effervescent milkshake of milkshakes; we were the crashing waves, the flickering fire, the hypnotic rhythm of the universe.
We shuffled out of Eclectic exhausted, but with the hearty satisfaction of having sated some primitive, essential instinct that other booty jams had only teased. As we return our butts to tasks like cushioning our bodies as we sit, connecting our legs to our torsos, and holding our pants up, let us not forget what they’re capable of when provoked.