Chromeo and Neil Frances at the Malkin Bowl, 6/7/19
The veteran Montreal funk duo Chromeo took Stanley Park back to the 80s Thursday night when they performed with a full live band for the first time at the Malkin Bowl.
Almost nobody was standing when opener Neil Frances took the stage, people content to simply lounge around and enjoy the beautiful forest around them while listening to some premium funk music.
Dressed in an all-white ensemble, the relaxed, dreamy falsetto of frontman Marc Gilfry was a good warmup for the real deal. At one point, he asked the crowd for the Raptors score, to which someone yelled “NOT GOOD.”
Chromeo have never taken themselves too seriously, but the crowd knew just how tongue-in-cheek things were going to get when they entered the stage to a funk version of the guards’ chant from The Wizard of Oz.
Stepping out with a chrome guitar and some stylish sunglasses, frontman Dave 1 started singing the energetic “Fancy Footwork,” immediately drawing people in.
Dave 1 was a silky-smooth master of ceremonies all night, the crowd responding to his every command as he flashed his grin and slid through some deliciously cheesy dance moves.
“We’re coming at you live from the great Canadian outdoors!” he shouted.
While it seemed like Dave 1 and his bandmate P-Thugg were having the time of their lives, it almost seemed as if their backing band, hilariously dubbed The Funklordz, were having even more fun.
All of Chromeo’s arrangements are very rhythmically complex – there were even two drummers on stage – so they had a lot to do, and the adrenaline must have been pumping as they hyped up the crowd just as much on tracks like “Juice” and “Come Alive.”
P-Thugg sang into a vocoder all night, adding some retro flair to every song and even singing on tracks that didn’t previously feature his vocals. At one point, Dave 1 left the stage and P-Thugg started talking to the audience, still modulating his voice.
After some typical stage banter, P-Thugg mentioned that it was Dave 1’s birthday, and as he walked back on stage, the crowd started singing “Happy Birthday” to him to his visible delight. Of course, he had to preserve his too-cool-for-school image, so he simply nodded and said “not bad!”
Taking in his surroundings, Dave 1 noted that the outdoor venue was “a nice change” from the Commodore, “which we’ve played a grand total of 952 times.”
As the show progressed and they started hitting some throwbacks like “Hot Mess” and the now 15-year-old “Needy Girl,” which they called “our first song that people ever liked,” the crowd started spreading out as people added their own dance moves. It seriously looked like a club, despite being outdoors.
Some of the most impressive musical moments came near the end as well, Dave 1 holding his own with some funk legends with his soulful vocals on “Slummin It” and the duo adding a slow-jam breakdown to one of their best tracks in “Don’t Sleep.”
Dave 1 called for a “special request” before playing “Over Your Shoulder” – he needed to see “At least five people on shoulders, or we’re not playing.” He certainly got his wish. There must have been more than 50.
Chromeo ended the main set with crowd favourites like “Must’ve Been” and their biggest hit “Jealous,” prompting some of the biggest synchronized jumps from the audience.
As the sun went down, so did the stage lights, the duo performing the encore by the light of the crowd’s cellphones.
It was the perfect calm-down to a perfect night. The Raptors even came back to win.