“Oooh, Oh, Chrome-ee-oh, Oooh, Oh, Chrome-ee-oh,” a sold-out room of fans at Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club chant-sang Monday night as a bank of lights to put Justice to shame came to life and the space-disco intro music to 2007’s Fancy Footwork came through the P.A.
Ostensibly, this was the kick-off to the ace party-funk duo’s 22-date North American Business Casual tour, heralding the upcoming release of Chromeo’s overdue third release this September. But fans got just a taste of that record — three songs; still, no one seemed particularly disappointed that the pair was more into reminding the room just how many hits they’d amassed in a mere two records.
They hit hard at the outset with Fancy Footwork jam “Outta Sight,” a punchy boogie lit up with a mean Moog solo from P-Thugg in the middle. But the crowd didn’t get really riled until “Tenderoni,” another old cut that had the entire room with their hands in the air and digging on a mid-song break of two-man woodblock virtuosics.
Yes, Chromeo is the kind of band that can start up a crowd with that. To say nothing of them being the only group that could possibly make a Peter Frampton-esque voicebox sound gold-plated sexy.
Chromeo brought out plenty of Fancy Footwork big-hitters as the night went on. The pleading “Call Me Up” got a big sing-along reaction; Dave 1 could barely even say “2-Step” before the crowd practically took control of “Fancy Footwork” themselves.
Meanwhile, the comparably slow jamming “Bonafide Lovin'” had fans swaying on the club floor. It was a nice come-down from early-days track “Needy Girl,” introduced by Dave 1 with “you ever have one of those girlfriends that just. . . calls you a little too much?”
After giving some love to local dance genre go-go, they went into one other She’s In Control track, “You’re So Gangsta,” with its razor-sharp “gangsta!” sample and lack of other vocals, which made it sound almost experimental in comparison to Chromeo’s usually straight-forward palette. And the track’s power-funk percussion — ditching the usually heavily electronic beats of the duo — made it seem like a slight homage to go-go father Chuck Brown and Co.
Oh, and yes, this was the Business Casual tour kickoff, so they did get to some upcoming tracks, if only for a three-song extended taste.
The first song was a toned-down number, name unknown, played for the “first time in the world” that turned into an odd-man-out lament with Dave 1 waxing about love and loneliness. This cut, added to the already-circulating Business Casual tune “Don’t Turn the Lights On,” a brutally sincere dark-disco track about a passed-on lover, and a believably unironic cover of the Eagles’ ” I Can’t Tell You Why,” might be pointing fans to a more mature Chromeo to come.