I remember VIA day one, 2010 clear as day. Myself and another fine young Pgh broad were given the task of picking up Freedia and crew from the airport to take them to their CMU lecture gig as a part of the educational workshops VIA was holding for the festival. As someone whose always had a little extra badonk, I can appreciate a broad with a sweet ass. Nobody likes a pancake ass, let’s be serious. Few, however, take ass appreciation to the level that Big Freedia does. As I sat in the workshop and watched a room full of awkward intellectual types learn how to bounce their tooshies, trying to hold in the lols, I realized – this is nothing to laugh about – this is something to celebrate. So what if you have no rhythm, all you need are two cheeks on your behind and you’re good to go.
Chilling with Freedia, her DJ Rusty Lazer, and dancer Altercation was the highlight of VIA 2010 for me. How many people can say they’ve toked a bleez daddy with the Queen Diva? Plenty, I’m sure, but not too many Pgh-ites. It was during that time that my foolish perspective on the New Orleans bounce movement transformed from lighthearted and satirical to something more deep and intellectual. We talked about the unique and vibrant music scene in New Orleans, a microcosm of American culture I’ve yet to experience. I didn’t realize until Freedia’s return trip to the Pgh how much we mimic that sentiment. I have in my notes from the night – “Kept talkin bout d**k and how Pittsburgh is just like home.” Well – you can find the former anywhere, but its rare that you can recreate the sense of community Freedia’s music fosters in New Orleans hundreds of miles away.
Our praises, made evident on the Facebook pages of both Javelin and Rusty, are a testament to the heights our scene has been climbing to over the past few years. We have no one else to thank but ourselves. We’re the ones who come. We’re the ones who make it fun. We’re the ones who put in the time to bring acts to this city who would have laughed at us five years ago.
As for the night, well, there was certainly ass-a-plenty. Cucitroa started it out the only way he knows how, banger-style – an ideal choice to lube up the crowd for the night. The first Javelin song was a quiet transition, but didn’t go unnoticed while a speaker fell from the stage and made me realize how homemade their entire production really is. Between sets Cucitroa played the very appropriate “Miss New Booty” which had been in my head the entire day, and an old favorite, “Danga” by Twista. He kept it real as the crowd patiently waited for Freedia’s ass to explode all over the Shadow Lounge.
As I got tossed around a sweaty sea of bodies and ass I was reminded of everything that Freedia represents – being free with who you are. So what if you have a jiggly ass? Shake that shit! So what if you’re gay, straight, man, woman, both, neither, or all of the above? Who effing cares. Freedia’s music brings together communities that wouldn’t otherwise be united – crossing gender, sexual and racial boundaries in a way that’s both creative and innovative. So what if the sound was a little off – that’s not what this was about anyway. It was about grabbin that broad who wouldn’t otherwise be up on stage, swinging her over your back, and bouncing her above your ass like you’re life depends on it. And for those of you who stuck around, yeah, that happened, and it was effing sweet. That kind of shit doesn’t happen in Pittsburgh every day, but it should.