Chromeo Brings High Octane Funk To KCRW Apogee Sessions

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KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic show’s live performances are both coveted ones by the musicians and their fans alike. In its Apogee Sessions, KCRW tapes select ones of these performances at legendary studio mastermind, Bob Clearmountain’s Apogee Studio in Santa Monica, California for broadcast at a later date. On Tuesday April 22, 2014, Montreal-bred, Brooklyn-based, Chromeo, was the entertainment on Apogee’s stage. Fresh from their high billing on Coachella’s Main Stage the previous two weekends, the duo of Dave 1 and P Thugg stripped its chrome and lights show way back to its basics—and was none the less high octane for it.

Taking the small stage in front of 175 or so lucky attendees, some of whom won tickets from KCRW, the Chromeo fellows were flanked by six silver choir robe-clad lovelies, the Chromettes—as snazzy as the Supremes times two—with the performance mixed by Clearmountain himself. Chromeo’s latest album, White Women isn’t released until the middle of May, but with three albums already under its 10-year-strong belt, there is more than enough familiar and well-loved material from which to choose. Handling the myriad of instruments both conventional and unconventional alike—with the synthesizers perched atop illuminated ladies’ legs instead of the usual keyboard stands—the two looked like they could be from different bands: Dave 1 an indie rock ‘n’ roller and P Thugg an ‘80s hip hop throwback.

This discrepancy did not hinder them from tearing through their funkified electro dance pop groovers. The room was swaying in unison (the free flowing beer and wine wasn’t hurting the mood) as attendees felt that surge of recognition every time Chromeo started on another favorite. Keeping the selection spread out over its four releases, the two didn’t inundate the crowd with too much from White Women since the album’s disco rhythms haven’t had a chance to lodge themselves into fans yet. Early on Dave 1 mentioned that this performance was a far more intimidating one that Coachella since he could see every person’s face, accompanying facial expression and reaction.

The set was broken up with an interview conducted by Morning Becomes Eclectic’s host, Jason Bentley. Well-versed in Chromeo’s history, as well as the musical scenes the duo is influenced by, started in, and has evolved through, Bentley asked knowledgeable questions that hopefully put Chromeo in context for the casual fan. Dave 1 never removed his shades, further propelling his already rock star image while P Thugg never said a word that didn’t go through his trusty Talk Box, further propelling his image as the quirky one. Both had the crowd in stitches when asked about their collaboration with Toro Y Moi on “Come Alive” and Dave 1 admitted every girl he brought home mentioned how much they loved the crooner, and P Thugg concluded with something along the lines of, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

Returning to the performance, the second half featured more tracks from White Women, including the seductive “Over Your Shoulder,” over whose refrain, which includes the word “stop” the Chromettes tapped deep into their inner Supremes. Also included were the instantaneous hit “Jealous (I Ain’t With It),” and the saucy “Frequent Flyer.”

The evening was billed as a dance party, and that is exactly what it was, albeit a super-special intimate one. This was especially welcome after Chromeo’s over-sold-out show at the Fonda Theatre two weeks prior where visibility of the two was next to nil and elbow room non-existent as well. And even if no one will admit it, these days attending Coachella is the equivalent of going to hell, and Apogee Studio is far from that. Plus the ban on all electronics made it the experience of not watching the show through a sea of lit mobile phones an exceptionally special one. — Lily Moayeri

Chromeo’s performance and interview will air on the May 9, 2014 edition of Morning Becomes Eclectic, which will be accessible, online at: www.kcrw.com.

Photo credit: Jon Gordon McKenzie