Location. Location. Location. As an across-the-board aficionado of music‚ I'm not one to gripe about a venue if there's a good band playing. But what the hell is it about the UVM gym that has the ability to just straight up suck the life out of any musical performance? Some have managed to overcome: The Grateful Dead in '83‚ a decent Primus show ten years ago‚ and Ween on All Hallo's Eve a few years back. But others... I recall a Toots and the Maytals concert where halfway through I felt like I was in a sober Miller Lite commercial‚ and The Flaming Lips' lifeless performance two years ago had to be a low point of their big stage career.
So I don't know what I was thinking when I had high hopes walking into Chromeo in the gym at 8 o'clock on a Saturday night. It had only taken me one 3 A.M. impromptu Chromeo dance party a few months prior for me to wake up a believer. I mean‚ Albert from Revenge of the Nerds playing guitar in a leather jacket with a Latino guy in a doo-rag rocking out a vox-coder? C'mon‚ sign me up. The tongue-in-cheek odes to beloved girls labeled as "Tenderoni" are undeniably catchy‚ finely crafted‚ and impossible to not move to. And despite the hype‚ they're no mere novelty act. The music cries for cocktails on a tightly packed‚ sweat-infused dance floor‚ and I've only heard of the legendary 5000-person dance-offs these guys have been inspiring at their Montreal shows as of late. So‚ let's have their first Vermont performance be an alcohol-free event on campus in a gigantic gym with 1000 UVM undergraduates who weren't even alive in the '80s and thus mistake the irony in Chromeo's sound for some cheap throwback fad that makes them all want to wear day-glo and leggings. Am I getting old?
The fellas were tight from the onset‚ but I guess it's hard for a prerecorded drum track to fall out of time. Whatever though‚ the digital sound is their pocket‚ and they're both playing enough instruments to hold off most vengeful analog-music lovers. Despite only being two of them‚ they are very much so a band‚ regardless of how many clueless kids are in the audience. Yet as much as the unfocused crowd was getting to me‚ the band was also obviously jaded by the youthful absurdity. Dave 1 had to stop a song at one point to acknowledge that if one more glow stick hit him in the head‚ he was going to end the show. I tried to find the inspiration to put on my dancing shoes‚ but was cloyed by the teenage girls with side ponytails who were acting as if they were listening to Thriller on their iPod. They played everything you wanted to hear: "Fancy Footwork‚" "Momma's Boy‚" "Bonafied Lovin‚" but the 30 or so old folks in their late '20s all stood motionless in the back corner. Chromeo is the pro-shop of modern party music‚ and they frankly don't belong in any place that has chaperones and a bake sale going on in the lobby.
The show lasted about an hour but felt like a week. I was reminded of a friend recently telling of hating the newest David Lynch movie‚ but due to his love for the director he faced an inner moral dilemma when he chose to walk out. I stayed the whole time‚ but turning around at the end of the show‚ two-thirds of the old fogies had already left. Horrible off-campus promotion unfortunately shaped the fate of Chromeo this night‚ and left me yearning to actually see them perform for my first time. In other news‚ I heard for Spring Fest the school is already lining up the Dead Kennedys to play the child day-care center on campus.