What’s more New Orleans than a crawfish boil and king cake? Bounce music! The uninhibited twist on hip-hop is as beloved in NOLA as Go-Go in the nation’s capital. Freddie Ross, Jr., better known as Big Freedia (pronounced “FREE-da”), recently showed a packed 9:30 Club why he’s the “Queen of Bounce.”
Philadelphia’s Low Cut Connie opened the Oct. 29 concert with a rousing rock performance. Lead singer and frontman Adam Weiner brought an energy that set the tone for the night. He would play the piano standing on his piano bench and sing atop the instrument like a young Jerry Lee Lewis. The vibrant band was a perfect choice to begin an uptempo night.
Stream Dirty Pictures (Part 2) by Low Cut Connie on Spotify:
Big Freedia and his dance troupe, also known as the “shake team,” stepped onto the stage in purple choir robes. It may have been Tuesday, but after an invocation from DJ Juane Jordan, it was time for the Church of Bounce. The choir director (aka Big Freedia) kicked things off with “I Got the Power,” from the 2010 album Big Freedia Hitz Vol. 1.
If you’re not from New Orleans, you may think you don’t know Big Freedia, much less bounce music, but that’s where you’re wrong. The sound characterized by call-and-response lyrics and rapid-fire beats went mainstream in the ’90s with Juvenile’s hit “Back That Thang Up.”
Big Freedia has since become the ambassador of bounce. His distinctive voice can be heard on Beyonce’s 2016 Grammy-winning single “Formation,” as well as Drake’s “Nice for What” (2018). During the show, Big Freedia would perform excerpts from both songs, but not before fans were properly in the spirit.
“I need volunteers. Real ass shakers. If you’re not gonna shake your ass, don’t bother,” Big Freedia said. Fans promptly lined up to join the larger than life Queen of Bounce on stage. “I see a whole lotta ass,” Big Freedia said as he performed “Mo Azz.”
Notice a pattern? It isn’t bounce music if the bass doesn’t rattle and asses aren’t shaking! The charismatic and tall diva judiciously ensured that each fan had a moment to shake their stuff on center stage. The twerkers couldn’t be happier to share the spotlight with the Queen Diva.
Stream 3rd Ward Bouncy by Big Freedia on Spotify:
On this night, Big Freedia would dance mainly by proxy. Twenty four hours prior, he suffered a torn tendon as he performed “Raising Hell,” with Kesha, on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Walking boot be damned, he still managed to give fans some of his signature booty roll on songs like “Rent,” “Karaoke,” and “3rd Ward Bounce.”
Watch the official music video for “Raising Hell” by Kesha featuring Big Freedia on YouTube:
During the show, Big Freedia got choked up as he thanked fans and his team for believing in his vision. The road hasn’t been easy, and he has lost people along the way, but the proof is in the bread pudding. Big Freedia has gone from backup dancer for bounce pioneer Katey Red to gracing magazine covers.
Low Cut Connie returned to the stage to assist Big Freedia in his performance of an acoustic version of “I heard.” The song was a blend of pop and bounce that felt like a triumphant ode to the victorious.
The 9:30 Club was so lit that people were practically swinging from the rafters. During the performance of “Duffy,” an anthem to leaving it all on the dance floor, Big Freedia pointed to the balcony at the rear of the building. One of his dancers was holding onto the guard rails, back turned to the crowd, gyrating her hips to deafening cheers. Now that’s how you end a Big Freedia show!
Big Freedia and Low Cut Connie continue the “Azz Across America” tour with stops in Cleveland, Detroit, and Minneapolis. Go to Big Freedia’s website for tour information and updates. If you can’t get enough of the Bounce Queen, try binge-watching Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce on Amazon Prime.
Here are some pictures of Big Freedia performing at 9:30 Club on Oct. 29, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of Will Colbert.