Big Freedia at the Firebird, 7/21/12: Review and Photos

Photo by Alexis HItt
Big Freedia and the Divas | DJ Drace
The Firebird
July 21, 2012

Big Freedia and her Divas came wiggling into the Firebird on Saturday. It was an unusual show. Unusual how? Let's cut straight to the end of a four-minute, logic-defying a capella freestyle from Freedia herself, half drum-line precise flow and half church choir wailing. That's when she started up one of her many trademark call-and-responses.

For full impact, let's turn to the crowd for a second. Somewhere not too far south of a hundred, from all walks: High-schoolers to people who could be (actually were, in some cases) their parents, hip kids and jocks, black, white, gay, straight...

So Freedia - who is transgendered, not incidentally - has this whole mess in the palm of her hand, and she gets unanimous response when she yells:


It was an euphoric moment, whether you like sucking dick or not, whether you have one or not, because those sorts of minor distinctions had been so brazenly, thoroughly trivialized by the hour-plus of Big Freedia using her substantial charisma and will to get everyone to shake everything. It's Kumbaya with louder bass and more sweating.

Alexis HItt
If you need a primer on bounce music, I'd recommend an authority better than me. Diplo, who has been an ambassador for all kinds of musical pockets, spent a few minutes acting more disinterested than he really is in New Orleans. The New York Times wrote an authoritative feature on Big Freedia back in 2010, although a few of its observations about her crowd are out of date. What remains true is that Big Freedia and other gay rappers in New Orleans have found success playing everywhere from clubs to sports bars, and that, yes, there are plenty of straight rappers, male and female, performing bounce - there have been for two decades. What seems like it might be shifting, based on this weekend's show in St. Louis and the evidence from elsewhere around the country, is how this is received.

The Times (and Diplo, actually) observe that bounce music -- the subset of gay bounce artists in particular -- attracts an overwhelmingly female audience, and the men follow because the women are there. I'm sure that's still part of it, but in the past two years bounce has become a nation-wide destination unto itself. Freedia is a big enough star that you can credibly say that most of the people there on Saturday went to see her and not to see the people dancing. And while there were definitely more women than men at the Firebird, there wasn't the gender division described in the story - everyone just danced.

Location Info


The Firebird

2706 Olive St., St. Louis, MO

Category: Music

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Keep the place breathing? Hardly. We left at 10 because NOTHING HAD HAPPENED. We got there at 8, right as the doors opened, expecting the show to at least start at 9 or 9:30. We sat around for over 2 hours with no music. That local DJ just started setting up as we were leaving. How did you not mention that? Was there some memo that we and the staff at the firebird missed about Big Freedia not even showing up till after 11? The best we figure is that She did not even play until midnight at the earliest, and that is just not cool. Yeah, we could have stuck around, but we had better things to do at midnight (The Room at The Tivoli with Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero). That is not how you treat your fans. I'd be over it if Big Freedia would have at least sent an apologetic tweet, since she tweets quite often, but nothing. Just supposed to understand and get past it. We could have gone to The Room on Friday and gone to Nelly downtown earlier in the night. We could have done so much, but Big Freedia wasted our time. Time we wont get back, and probably will never receive an apology for.


Not to mention there was apparently a heroin problem going on while we were at the venue.


Note: Big props to the Firebird for giving us our money back without question.



 @xxotaruxx Well, I was across town until about 11:00 for Josh Ritter, so I wouldn't know about what happened before then. She went on shortly after 11:30 and played for about an hour, which seems pretty fair to me. That sucks that it didn't work out the way you wanted, but you got your money back, so now it seems like you're upset for no reason. I hope The Room was a good time! 



I don't think it is completely unreasonable to be upset.  When doors open at 8 and a show starts after 11:30 with no word as to why, that has to be a little trying on one's patience. 


 @Kiernan_Maletsky Well, Josh Ritter was at Plush, so won't really say "across town," more like 2 blocks away, but that's besides the point.


I think my anger is justified. Okay Big Freedia may have played for an hour, which yes. Is fair. But the venue didn't know the show was starting that late, and neither did we. How can you think I'd be upset for no reason? I wasted my time in an empty venue spending bar prices on beers I could have drank at home before The Room. If the show was not to start until 11:30, then that needed to be advertised, which is a communication problem between the promoter and the venue. Big Freedia should realize this and at least send an apology or say something about it. If the venue also thought she'd be playing earlier, then there is no was she didn't know that the venue refunded at least 9 ticket sales (from what I saw) at the time we left.


 @Kiernan_Maletsky  @samanthalj89 I understand what you're saying, but you're slightly missing the point. If the fans are upset over something that's the promoter's fault, it's good PR to apologize regardless. There was plenty of miscommunication that lead to a handful of fans to be upset and leave. If that happens, it's good manners to apologize for the mishap. It's not like I want anything more than a simple sorry. Maybe I'm fishing for an apology, but the artist should know when their fans are upset. Unless they're some kind of huge national act to which a handful on fans don't matter.


 @samanthalj89 @xxotaruxx For sure, and it sounds like maybe there was some miscommunication. So that's definitely a hassle. But I don't know that it's so spectacularly out of the realm of concert etiquette that Big Freedia should be issuing an apology. Or maybe I'm just way more relaxed in general today because I was at a Big Freedia show this weekend. 

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