Big Freedia and Low Cut Connie join forces for the Azz Across America Tour | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Big Freedia and Low Cut Connie join forces for the Azz Across America Tour

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Big Freedia is both a practitioner and a champion of bounce music. On the first episode of her 2013 reality show, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, she defined the New Orleans hip-hop style as “uptempo, heavy-bass, ass-shaking club music.” Bounce music emerged in the mid-80s, after Queens duo the Showboys released the 1986 single “Drag Rap (Triggaman).” By the early 90s the sound had been adopted by New Orleans, where its mash of hip-hop and house with call-and-response lyrics reflects the eclectic nature of the city’s party spirit. Born Freddie Ross, Freedia is by far the most famous face of bounce, but she’s been careful in interviews to pay homage to the origins of the genre. In the late 90s she started performing as a dancer for her friend Katey Red, widely considered the first transgender bounce artist (Freedia is a gay man but uses she/her pronouns to refer to her stage persona), and only a few years later she was making her own music with longtime collaborator DJ Blaqnmild, achieving local acclaim for her high-energy shows and her commanding vocals on infectious tracks such as 2003’s “Gin in My System.” Bounce’s booming electronic beats and frenetic dance moves encourage audiences to participate in the let-it-loose atmosphere of a Big Freedia set, and her goal is to bring the music to the mainstream while honoring its roots. During her appearance at the 2014 Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, she surprised the crowd by bringing out the Showboys for a version of “Drag Rap,” and she named her empowering 2018 album 3rd Ward Bounce (which features guest spots from Lizzo and New Orleans blues/neosoul singer Erica Falls) in homage to the neighborhood where she grew up. Freedia is touring with Philadelphia band Low Cut Connie, whose theatrical, piano-driven party rock reminds me of the J. Geils Band at their 70s peak. They’re each playing their own sets, but Big Freedia will also step in for a few numbers with Low Cut Connie. One can only hope that Park West has floorboards sturdy enough to handle all the ass shakin’.   v

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