It Was Twerks Galore as Big Freedia Worked the Crowd and Herself Last Night at White Oak

Big Freedia at White Oak Sunday night.
Big Freedia at White Oak Sunday night. Photo by David "Odiwams" Wright
Big Freedia
White Oak Music Hall
April 14, 2019

The forecast for the weekend was supposed to be wet and dreary but luckily the weather, as usual, didn’t listen to the projections. Houston, for the first time in a while, experienced an unexpectedly warm and beautiful Sunday. As the night came, the temperature dropped and the crowd of energetic Big Freedia fans standing outside White Oak Music Hall were ready to let loose. A young woman tugged at her sheer dress, complaining about how it felt.

“Take that shit off! It don’t matter! We came here to bounce! We came here to bounce hard!” yelled her friend as he pointed at another girl dressed in sweats as though she was headed to the gym. “She gets it. You ain’t here to look cute.”

As the Dj cued up “Old Town Road” the unmistakable booming voice of Big Freedia, the artist largely responsible with the popularization of New Orleans bounce music, filled the room.

“You already knoooooooooooow! Y’all know H-town is my second home!” she screamed while walking out on stage flanked by her five dancers. The New Orleans native stood tall in black jeans with an orange and black fatigue jacket matching her dancers’ spandex uniforms. Flipping her hair, she boisterously welcomed the audience to the Big Freedia Show, a high energy concert that contained an equal amount of performance and audience participation.

A siren loudly blared as the intro to Beyonce’s “Formation” played and Freedia stood center stage, controlling the room with the progression of each verse. The DJ quickly transitioned into a bounce version of Adele’s “Hello” before Freedia invited around 30 people onto her stage.

“Y’all ready to shake your ass or what?” she asked picking through volunteers to see who would take center stage. The first notes of Juvenile’s “Back That Ass Up” echoed through the room sending the crowd into a frenzy.

“If you’re on the stage now turn around!” Freedia yelled as she stood arms outstretched amongst a stage of twerkers from the audience. For the rest of the night Freedia commanded and the audience followed.

click to enlarge New Orleans bounce music was in the house. - PHOTO BY DAVID "ODIWAMS" WRIGHT
New Orleans bounce music was in the house.
Photo by David "Odiwams" Wright

When an overly excited man in a pink unitard started hopping on a speaker the Queen of Bounce quickly brushed him away without missing a beat. Women and men gyrated across the stage at Freedia’s will, eagerly waiting for her to point in their direction with an instruction.

Freedia then pit dancer against dancer in a “twerk off’ as the Dj ran through hits like “I Heard” and “Rent.” Everyone on stage was fair game with Freedia’s dancers grabbing the initially reluctant Inayah Lamis and bringing her to the front of the stage. Just like with other members from the crowd reluctance eventually turned into full participation as the Houston Instagram sensation and rising singing star danced across the stage.

The crowd was happily exhausted as Drake’s, Big Freedia-assisted hit “Nice for What” blared through the room. Big Freedia continued until it seemed the audience could dance no more thanking everyone for coming out as the DJ played Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”. The spent crowd walked out of White Oak Music Hall and into the cool night serenaded by the chorus and the echo of Big Freedia’s words.

“Put one finger in the air for love. Put two in the air for peace. Just be Free.”
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Houston Press contributor DeVaughn Douglas is a freelance writer, blogger, and podcaster. He is 1/2 of the In My Humble Opinion Podcast and 1/1 of the Sleep and Procrastination Society. (That last one isn't a podcast; he just procrastinates and sleeps a lot.)