Chromeo keeps cool at House of Blues
(Photo: Thomas Joseph) Nothing about Chromeo should work. But it does.
It's two dudes from Canada (Canada!) wearing a lot of black leather and playing electro funk. One of their fan favorites, "Old 45s," is a synth infused track about literally wooing a woman by putting a nickel in the jukebox. In theory, the cognitive dissonance is alarming.
In practice: it's a fan favorite. These guys put on a ridiculous live show that gets the people moving. Seeing them in person completely explains their devout following. Chromeo wound down the first leg of their Head Over Heels tour (the titular album comes out June 15) on Wednesday at the Houston House of Blues with a tight set.
The first thing you'll notice on this tour is the intense stage design. Chromeo took their name quite literally, coating every available surface in, well, chrome. From the synth and keys stands - naturally shaped like a woman's legs, because half of their songs are about fucking - to the staircase set at center stage, it's the most memorable we've seen here at BSL. It's like Valhalla for an extra in Mad Max.
The chrome extended to the instruments too. As guitarist and lead singer David Malkovitch (known as "Dave 1") strutted to center stage during "Night By Night" for a solo, an array spotlights landed on his sterling guitar. For a moment, the man was an actual ray of light.
This lead to the heart of Chromeo's set. "Tenderoni," a cut from 2007's Fancy Footwork, followed. This is a track that sees Malkovitch at his best, oozing the kind of charisma only a frontman who wants to get everyone laid can. Malkovitch moved with purpose throughout the night, hitting many of the same spots on stage and never missing a beat. It's practiced and regimented, but it doesn't reek of discipline or overproduction.
"Needy Girl," a track that feels fresh but is somehow nearly 15 years old, finished up this stretch. It's easily Chromeo's best known track, but throwing it in with the prior two songs made it feel special. By now the audience was absolutely entranced by Malkovitch, responding in kind to every request for a fist pump or hand clap.
Malkovitch is joined by collaborator Patrick Gameyal (stage name "P-Thugg"). Gameyal is a huge piece in keeping the show going, layering in the synth and keys. His talkbox interludes drew massive reactions, and his forays from behind the keys onto the bass really connect the audience to the pair's relationship. There are dueling solos and back-to-back moments that music fans love to see.
Not everything goes over well. There's some ham-handed choreography between the two on "Footwork" that just comes across as cheesy. It's redeemed on performances like "Fall Back 2U" though.
(Photo: Thomas Joseph)
The song has a couple of drops that are perfectly handled. Gameyal moved to a different synth stack at center stage, while the Malkovitch hops up the staircase behind him to rip off of a few riffs. At one point, the whole stage goes dark and the music goes silent. Both performers hop right back into the track in time. It drove the crowd absolutely nuts.
Support came from tour mate Phantoms and Houston's own Wrestlers. Joining up for the Texas dates, Wrestlers provided a solid DJ set anyone in the scene would come to expect. A wise man once said a good mix should be all rise. That's exactly where Wrestlers went, and it got the early crowd moving on a week night. Phantoms' set ran the gamut, including a sample of Rihanna's "Work" that was more of an ear worm than the chart-topping original.