POSTED Wed. Jul 24, 2013
When Big Freedia met the Postal Service
Adam Karlin
Written by ADAM KARLIN

So: hometown hero Big Freedia has been opening for the Postal Service while the latter is on tour. If that sentence doesn’t mean anything to you, put it this way: the gay black bounce performer who does this song is warming up for the skinny white hipsters who perform this one .

For the record, both of those tracks are great. But the reaction to Freedia in the Pacific Northwest has generally ranged from bemusement to all-out disdain. From the Vancouver Sun:

…the “Queen Diva all the way from New Orleans, Louisiana” has done something quite impressive making a career out of such a limited and, ultimately, annoyingly repetitive genre. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that it is all an elaborate joke.

What a twit, right? The local reaction to this reaction (thanks, internet age) from commentators like Cajun Boy and the Gambit has been predictably (and understandably) a mix of annoyance, irritation and our own brand of sneer. You don’t get our music, world? Well to quote the Queen Diva, y’all get back now.

With all that said, I’m inclined to give the folks in the Pacific Northwest a break. I’m not from the PNW, but I went to the University of Washington and put in four years of Seattle-observational fieldwork. And said research leads me to this conclusion: it is difficult to imagine a city that is less receptive to bounce. Bounce is loud, confrontational, hypersexual, participatory and danceable. It’s a perfect musical vehicle for a town whose citizens are unapologetically sensual and proudly epicurean, a never-shy city where people like to look you in the face, ask about ya mominem and show off their considerable, haha, assets (yes, that was meant to be a punny nod to Juvenile, who arguably mainstreamed bounce for a national audience back in the ’90s).

Despite giving the world Sir Mix-a-Lot, I think it’s safe to say Seattle does not, figuratively or literally, like big butts. Also: her residents tend to avoid eye contact, casual conversation, or engaging in demonstrative displays of approval at concerts, let alone dancing, let alone twerking. I know, I know, this doesn’t apply to everyone in Washington and Oregon. Yes, I’m speaking in generalities, but I believe there’s enough standoff-ish paint on the PNW easel to brush with these broad strokes.

Anyways, I’m not saying the above is bad. Up yourself, Northwest! You have a well-developed appreciation of coziness, irony and sarcasm, and the salmon is great. And I’ll always be a loyal Husky. I’m just saying the Seattle Freeze is a thing – maybe a tad exaggerated, but present enough to be palpable to outsiders and something I know a few PNW natives are actually proud of – and that thing is as compatible with bounce as a minuet.

Besides all this, shouldn’t we cut concert-goers a little slack for expecting their opener to somewhat match the headliner? How would you react if you bought tickets to see Lil’ Wayne and Belle & Sebastian did the first set? Or just reverse the actual gigs. Would people attending a Big Freedia concert in New Orleans want the Postal Service to open?

Actually, come to think of it, they probably would. I’ve seen Freedia perform at Siberia on the same night as some decidedly unbouncey acts. Across the street, the AllWays Lounge also consistently mixes up the many musics of black and white New Orleans. And say what you will about Marigny/Bywater hipsters, but they love to twerk it, even if their skinny white butts can’t always pull off the requisite moves. Plus, while the cross-penetration isn’t as deep, I’ve seen black bounce fans enjoying the punk or singer-songwriter acts on St Claude Ave; that music may not be as twee as the Postal Service, but it’s definitely not Peanut Butter either.

And that’s something I love about New Orleans. How our musical tastes are so hard to pigeonhole, other than ‘good.’ We’ll sway one minute, cry the next, laugh at one set and shake our azzes at the end. What matters is that the music moves us, be it emotionally or butt-jigglingly.

Yes. Butt-jigglingly. That’s a word, alright?

Y’all get back now.

Images courtesy of The Postal Service and Big Freedia


    Our Local Publisher Partners

    • The Arts Council of New Orleans
    • WWNO
    • WWOZ
    • PRC
    • NOMA
    • The Historic New Orleans Collection
    • Southern Food
    • Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.


    WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at


    WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.


    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.


    As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

    The Historic New Orleans Collection

    The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.



    was added to your favorites.



    Share On Twitter Share On Facebook