LMFAO w/Far East Movement, The Quest Crew, Sidney Samson, Eva Simons and Natalia Kills
The Prudential Center
Friday, June 29
Better than: You’d expect.
The problem with an LMFAO concert, I realize three songs into the LMFAO concert, is that even the biggest of LMFAO fans don’t want to hear more than five of the group’s songs. “Sorry for Party Rocking” opened—that’s one—and neither “Party Rock Anthem” nor “Sexy and I Know It” were coming out until the end, so what happens in between? Well, the David Guetta cover was a nice way to kill time, as were the Black Eyed Peas remix and the Quest Crew dance intermission. But it doesn’t take much longer before it becomes clear that the real answer is “nothing so complicated that you can’t sing along to the hook or unpredictable that you won’t be able to pump your fist or two-step to every beat.” This makes things a lot easier for everyone involved.
Although some claim to find LMFAO—or at least the idea of LMFAO—utterly intolerable, I’m continually fascinated by them, even beyond my enjoyment of the hits mentioned above. Perhaps it’s because their music is so shamelessly pure, what some would might call lowest common denominator, that’s its so irresistible to both listen to and (against every one of the group’s intentions) think about. Take their four-CD I’m in Your City Trick box set. Isn’t this pop music at its essence? 51 versions of an otherwise identical song tweaked just enough so that everyone from Austin (disc one/track one) to West Palm (disc four/track two) can feel as though it belongs to them? Or the song “Shots”? How much money has been spent on a beer, whiskey, and novelty shot glasses solely because this song exists? If you own a bar, you’re actually losing money if you don’t license their music. Of all the pieces to critically engage with the band’s music and brand, the best I’ve read is Leah Caldwell’s “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” over at the New Inquiry, and only she places proper emphasis on the fact that RedFoo was a day trader before deciding to don the neon-zebra Speedo.
Regardless, whether or not the modifier “lowest” is apt, the group’s party rock anthems have certainly become a common dominator across cultures and genres, inspiring otherwise unseen dance moves out of everyone from David Carr and A.O. Scott to people in attendance at a recent Lady Antebellum/Darius Rucker concert at Radio City. The group won “Crossover Artist of the Year” at the recent Billboard Latin Awards, and the day after the show I received a text telling me that their music was causing quite a stir at an Indian wedding. When Redfoo yells, “Where my party people at?” he’s talking to all of us.
As for the records, it struck me last night how many other songs, both mainstream and underground, that the group’s own music seemed to be in dialogue with, both intentionally and by chance, as if mocking the continued usage of the terms mainstream and underground in the first place. Before the show, I had to resist the urge to chant “Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots-Shots-Shots” as I listened to the Vjuan Allure remix of Schwarz’s “Lose Yr Fvcking Mindz,” and in the arena, when RedFoo chanted “Do my ladies run this motherfucker? Do my fellas run this motherfucker?” I imagined Memphis Bleek standing next to his unimpressed 10-year-old daughter, insisting that they got that from him.
Earlier in the set, the monotonous hook to “I Am Not a Whore” brought to mind the “I am no cyberwhore” vocals from Felix da Housecat’s “Watching Cars Go By,” but before that could settle, the duo began chanting 2 Live Crew’s “Face down ass up / That’s the we like to fuck” and, inexplicably, seguing out with a discussion of what foods they like to eat after intercourse (“Oh, you’re a sandwich guy?”). This, of course, led into a song “about” hot dogs (called “Hot Dog,” I’ve since learned) with background dancers pushing hot dog carts and doing hot dog-themed moves across the stage.
This is how things move at an LMFAO show. Some would call the humor juvenile—certainly the parents who brought their tweenage children to the show wouldn’t—but sitting in the crowd it felt much closer to a tradition dating back far before everyone in attendance, reminiscent of something like the traveling medicine shows of 100 years ago much more than anything belonging to today’s kids. Surely, some of the bits go back even further, as when Redfoo riled the crowd by asking who had a birthday today, then asking who had celebrated one in the past week before SkyBlu interrupted to ask who had had a birthday… in the past year. LMFAO, right?
Leaving nothing to chance, the group did in fact end with “Shots,” “Party Rock Anthem,” and for an encore, sort of, “Sexy and I Know It,” incorporating a narrative that almost made this arc seem dramatic. Essentially, “Shots” ends with Sky and Red running around stage drinking copious amounts of clear liquor not as shots but through a funnel (“Where my alcoholics at?” as the song somewhat uncomfortably goes) and a team of dancer doctors enters and carries them out on stretchers. Are they gonna make it? The “Party Rock Anthem” music video begins playing on the jumbotron and we learn that yes, thankfully, they are. Then we dance and pretend that we’re actually afraid they might not return for that encore and then we dance some more. OK, it doesn’t sound that good on paper, but of course, what about LMFAO does?
Critical bias: https://twitter.com/nickrkm/status/219654141264400384
Random notebook dump: Forgot to mention the parts when the guitarist started playing “Seven Nation Army” and when one of the two referred to the girl/guy split as a “fellatio ratio.”