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Chromeo w/ Mayer Hawthorne @ Turner Hall Ballroom

Oct. 3, 2011

Oct. 4, 2011
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From the moment they announced themselves with their 2004 debut She's in Control, there seemed to be little doubt that Chromeo would find success. Their impeccable synthesis of electro-funk, '80s crossover R&B and pop, Prince and Daft Punk is a dance-floor contagion, with few immune to its charms. But, beyond the music, it's a little surprising they didn't catch on even quicker, given the Canadian duo also comes with a ready-made narrative, something hack journalists just can't resist: The coming together of the lanky, Jewish Dave 1 (alias David Macklovitch) and the heavy-set Arab P-Thugg (aka Patrick Gameyal), who together spread peace and good times through the power of funk? That's not a band bio, it's a comic book waiting to happen.

Opener Mayer Hawthorne seems to also to be destined for stardom, albeit for all the wrong reasons. A Detroit-area native, Hawthorne revives Motown (and Philly) soul, aiming for smooth, but ending up slick, and what's worse, smug. Signed to the usually credible Stones Throw Records after label head Peanut Butter Wolf heard just two of his songs, Hawthorne does have some chops, playing most of the instruments on his recordings. I'm sure the complaint most often leveled at him is derivativeness, but his real crime is being dull, with him and his backing band coming off like the world's best cruise-ship act. Oh, did I mention he was smug? Because that bears repeating; we're talking, like, John Mayer smug.

Then Chromeo swept in, taking their places behind the leggy keyboards seen on the cover of Fancy Footwork,
and completely erased any bad taste left lingering by Hawthorne. The set-list was somewhat predictable, given they've only really got three albums to draw on, but since those albums are pretty consistently banging, that's not a disappointment. Dave-1 plays the front man, slinging the guitar and high fiving fans, leaving P-Thugg to work out the synths and the signature talk-box (seriously, who doesn't love the talk-box?). They let the momentum dip a bit too low from time to time, but mainly kept the bodies moving with big beats and charisma, clearly pleasing an eager crowd straight through to the night's closer, Business Casual's "Grow Up", which sounds a lot like the best song Billy Joel never released.

Speaking of the crowd, for the most part, the audience was hipsters, bros, random party people, (read: pretty standard stuff), but there was also a small, yet highly visible, contingent of hippies. I say "highly visible" because they were the only ones swinging light-up hula hoops around, nearly whapping anyone who walked by. You can't claim your spot and
five feet in any direction; this isn't Bonnaroo, space is a commodity. Whatever I guess, "and no harm no foul shall be the whole of the law" right? But here's the rub, when others asked if they could maybe join in the fun, they were turned down! Doesn't that seem completely antithetical to what one would assume to be the hippie hula-hoop ethos? I thought sharing was caring.

Photo by Erik Ljung


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