Performance Review | 02/11 – Tipitina’s  in New Orleans, LA

Contributing Writer : Anna Whalen

Contributing Photographer : Grant Gutierrez

Thanks to carolynola11 at YouTube for the video!

The last time you heard from me I was drenched, dancing to keep warm after braving a torrential downpour that could not deter me from the hot live acts at Voodoo Fest. Well, not much has changed. It’s another month and another show—RJD2—but the rain persists. I roll up the bottom of my black leggings and hop over an ankle-deep puddle to exit the car, parked in the Rouse’s parking lot. The lot is spotted with the usual evidence of a show at Tipitina’s, the renowned Uptown New Orleans venue located across the street: kids in pink wigs and fluorescent pants doing whip-its. I am not-so-inconspicuous myself, as I sling my sparkly blue and green hula hoop across my left shoulder and skip towards Napoleon Street.

The crowd appears thin from a distance.  There is no line outside the venue, and the purple trailer that usually vends garlic fries and other late-night yummies to munchy-eyed fans is closed. But once my hand is stamped and I step inside, the mood is instantly transformed. Bar customers form a cluster that is three rows thick. I suck in my stomach to squeeze through the damp audience in an attempt to make my way to the front. Eventually, I leave my photographer to forge his own way to the front, and I head upstairs to get a good view.

Tipitina’s has a large upstairs balcony that forms a horseshoe facing the stage. It is a prime vista not only for seeing the performers on stage, but also for watching the lively crowd below, which is always a crucial part of the entertainment. RJD2 is playing for an exhausted and exhilarated crowd. It all started a few weeks ago, when we won the NFC Championship… And then just this past weekend we won the Super Bowl… And next Tuesday is Mardi Gras! There isn’t room for any more excitement in this city right now! But RJD2 is still bringing it.

RJD2 plays what the audience expects to hear and wants to dance to. He knows how to turn on the party and keep cranking it up. The set included favorites from Since We Last Spoke, the RJD2 album that turned me on to the joy of the group’s instrumental- electro-pop-hip-hop-dance-your-ass-off grooves. Listening to RJD2 on your ipod is fun— I bop my head, I sway my hips, and sometimes I have an impulsive urge to hula-hoop that I just can’t quell when RJ’s in my ears. But listening to RJD2 live is a captivating blast of outer-space energy. They overtook the audience, who did not stop dancing en masse until after the group had left the stage. My arial view of the crowd was an image of one large cluster of movement—it wasn’t a bunch of individuals dancing, it was like an autonomous organism of RJD2 nuts.

The Colossus is RJD2’s most recent album, which was just released in January and has been subject to mixed reviews. I haven’t listened to it myself. I wanted to have virgin ears for the Tip’s show so that I could form my impression based on the live deliverance. Critics can say what they will about the quality of RJD2’s studio efforts, but I will say that after seeing the live performance of these songs, I am going to buy The Colossus. The new tunes flowed seamlessly with the old, all gelling into a cohesive and endlessly danceable experience. RJD2 cranked up the volume and pumped up the party for those of us who should be all partied out by now—and he left me ready for more. I will be sure to make it to the next show and shine my dancing shoes…

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