“MINNEAPOLIS PURPLE RAIN FUNKYTOWN MINNEAPOLIS!”
That wouldn’t be particularly impressive stage banter from most artists, but at their sold-out First Avenue show on Tuesday night, Chromeo made clear that they have more than random access memories—to cite another retrocentric pop duo—of the Twin Cities. Lead vocalist Dave 1 (née David Macklovitch) proudly noted that Chromeo have a star on the venue’s exterior, averred that the duo’s entire career has been a sort of homage to Purple Rain, and swore that if he and instrumentalist/robot-vocalist P-Thugg (Patrick Gemayel) ever record a live album, it will be recorded at First Ave.
The Canadian pair had earlier bestowed an unusual sort of honor on Minneapolis when they announced the title of their forthcoming album, White Women, to the world via a missed connections listing on our local Craigslist, sharing the album’s cover art and listing 701 1st Ave. N. as their address. They certainly made themselves at home on Tuesday night, installing a glass-and-chrome set that was so elaborate, the Mainroom screen wouldn’t fit down over it.
White Women—slated for release next Monday—seems likely to take the indie darlings, who’ve built a huge following for their danceable electrofunk despite never placing a single on the American pop charts, to a new level. The album features collaborations with Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend; Toro y Moi; and the alt Knowles, Solange. White Women singles “Jealous (I Ain’t With It),” “Sexy Socialite,” “Over Your Shoulder,” and “Come Alive” were clearly already familiar to the fist-pumping crowd; we only heard one unreleased song from the album, “Frequent Flyer.”
With a set of only 14 songs (15 if you count Fancy Footwork‘s “Intro,” played as Dave 1 and P-Thugg took the stage) in a set that wrapped up in under 90 minutes including a three-song encore, there wasn’t room for much more than the crowd-pleasers from Fancy Footwork—Chromeo’s 2007 breakout—and a few numbers from 2010’s Business Casual. Numerous though they were in the set, the Fancy Footwork songs are starting to feel a little cursory: “Bonafied Lovin'” was tossed off quickly, and “Momma’s Boy”—possibly the duo’s best-crafted song—was deconstructed into a series of disconnected interludes with pauses for the crowd to roar acknowledgment that they knew what was coming.
Fortunately, the strong new material—especially “Jealous” and “Sexy Socialite”—sounded great, pounded out fiercely through speakers cranked to their boneshaking limits. The show’s visuals were just as loud, with strobes and robolights reflecting everywhere and the pair’s trademark illuminated-leg keyboard stands glowing brightly in the moments of darkness between songs. Dave 1’s signature move in the new set is to stand at center stage while the robolights spin to converge on his mirrored guitar; it’s a cool trick, and he got a lot of mileage out of it.
All in all, it was a memorable evening with a pair whose fame is cresting—they wowed at Coachella with a nearly identical setlist, and they’re sure to be a hit at Summer Set when White Women has had the summer to gain traction. In the meantime—speaking of traction—Dave 1’s younger brother A-Trak, whose musical career is also going gangbusters, will be at Muse on June 12.
Night By Night (Business Casual)
Hot Mess (Business Casual)
Tenderoni (Fancy Footwork)
Come Alive (White Women)
Bonafied Lovin’ (Fancy Footwork)
Sexy Socialite (White Women)
Momma’s Boy (Fancy Footwork)
Over Your Shoulder (White Women)
Jealous (I Ain’t With It) (White Women)
Fancy Footwork (Fancy Footwork)
Needy Girl (Fancy Footwork: Deluxe Edition)
Frequent Flyer (White Women)
Don’t Turn the Lights On (Business Casual)
You’re So Gangsta (Fancy Footwork: Deluxe Edition)