Du Hot Club de Bizarre - Crescent Ballroom - 5/8/2013

Du Hot Club de Bizarre
Crescent Ballroom
May 8, 2013

Turquoise Jeep looks and sounds like a novelty act at first, but that doesn't quite explain their appeal. What they're really doing with their bizarre slow jams and paeans to stretchy pants and choreographed dance moves is hitting the basic tropes that make R&B so durable -- sex, euphemisms for sex, memorable hooks over dance music -- at their most ridiculously basic. They're funny, but they deliver the experience they're parodying while they parody it.

Du Hot Club de Bizarre, two packed days at Crescent Ballroom, is everything that makes a music festival a music festival, and nothing else. It's two days long (Ra Ra Riot and Man or Astro-Man? headline tonight); there are booths and beer, and indoor and outdoor stages to walk between; there are lots of different-sounding acts; it has a name. It might seem like a novelty -- like a few separate shows glommed together on short notice -- but you'll get the experience anyway.

That disjointed feeling was at its most acute before the sun finished setting -- Turquoise Jeep, opening the show on the outdoor stage, set a raucous tone that had little in common with, say, of Montreal's raucous tone, culminating in a four folding chairs and some audience participation... lap-dancing? Imagine the old SNL Chippendales sketch, only Patrick Swayze might be a little too into it.

And after that came Houston's Wild Moccasins, who found themselves playing to a thin room and a steady stream of of Montreal fans on their way out the door. When the exodus stopped a crowd finally reformed out of the remaining Hot-Clubgoers, and the stragglers were treated to intricate, effect-laden guitars, a near-disco groove, and the kind of jittery boy-girl vocals that will (if there's any justice) make for remarkable karaoke 20 years from now.

I can't fault the people who left, but the people who stuck around got one last micro-festival experience, in addition to another excellent set: Punch-drunk, happy exhaustion. It was only a Wednesday, and it had only been a few hours, but sticking around after the headliner and dancing on a school-night turns out to be a fair way to approximate that experience, on short notice.

Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Du Hot Club de Bizarre at Crescent Ballroom. Personal Bias: I thought it was pretty okay when of Montreal got a lot of money from Outback Steakhouse. The Crowd: Mostly coupled -- lots of hands in lots of significant others' back pockets, state fair style. Overheard in the Crowd: [Turquoise] "Jeep!" [Turquoise] "Jeep!" (They were very good at that.)

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Dan Moore