On paper, Chromeo is a band that should not work. “Canadian electrofunk revival” is not a phrase that rolls easily off the tongue of even the hippest of hipsters. But the younger-than-usual sold-out crowd at Red Butte Garden Wednesday night would beg to differ.
The rain began at 7:30 and did not subside until 9 p.m. Patrons were advised to “take shelter in their cars” by Red Butte staff but only a few were willing to give up their spots. Opener DJs Classixx took the stage to no announcement and played for about five minutes before anyone in the crowd noticed they were too well-dressed to be roadies doing a sound-check and they were not still playing the house warm-up music.
Classixx played a tasteful hour-long DJ set remixing Daft Punk and Janet Jackson songs for the first half and closing the set with their music from their own 2013 album Hanging Gardens.
The next performers for the night, ODESZA, were forced to cut their set short while roadies rushed to cover equipment in tarps. The fans were so dedicated they literally laughed in the face of the weather, with new sheets of rain eliciting cheers from the crowd. Umbrellas could be seen bopping from side to side all night as the crowd two-stepped with the bands.
After a long intermission in an attempt to wait out the rain, Dave 1 and P-Thugg took to the stage and launched into a hit parade set list of mostly older songs like “Hot Mess,” “Tenderoni” and “Bonafied Lovin” before getting to work from their new album White Women like “Sexy Socialite,” “Something Good” and “Old 45s.” During the slow groove “Over Your Shoulder,” one of White Women’s stand out tracks, much of the crowd boosted each other up on their shoulders.
The sheer sound dynamics “Funklordz” P-Thugg and Dave 1 create as a two-man band continue to impress and translate from recording into live performance beautifully. Chromeo is able to consistently produce a tight, engaging and even earnest live show.
“We thought you guys were all going to leave because of the rain, but here you are!” a delighted Dave 1 told the crowd.
Though the band played as a supporting act at Twilight in 2011, “this is our first real Utah show and we were just told this is the first time electronic music has been played at this venue,” Dave 1 said. A Red Butte representative confirmed that this was the first time an electro act had booked the Garden. Tickets sold out weeks in advance.
It wasn’t all dancing in the rain though; the stage direction for all three acts was misguided and at times could have come straight out of Spinal Tap. The fog machine seemed to be on the fritz and clouded the field of vision on the stage so completely that the performers were occasionally not visible to the crowd and at one point caused ODESZA to miss beats during “Say My Name.” The overuse of strobe lights caused more than one audience member to turn from the stage and blink until they got their bearings again.
There appeared to be no opportunity or desire for an encore from Chromeo in the face of the weather and the lights came up abruptly on the crowd at 10:30 p.m. sharp. Though they may have been the first electro act to come to Red Butte, they likely won’t be the last.